Data Mining Exec Pays For Burgers In Cash To Keep His Insurance Company From Knowing His Bad Diet Habits

from the privacy?-what's-that? dept

The Economist recently had an interesting article on how insurance companies are increasingly using data mining to "analyze risk." That is, they look through the data which was originally collected for the purpose of better marketing, and use it as a tool to see if you lead an unhealthy life. However, the really interesting point is highlighted by Kashmir Hill, where an exec at a datamining company admits that he's changed his habits because of this. Not his eating habits, mind you. But how he purchases food:
Insurers' interest in data mining will only grow, says Kevin Pledge, the boss of Insight Decision Solutions, an underwriting-technology consultancy based near Toronto.... Insurance firms will also analyse grocery purchases for clues about policyholders, he predicts. But that raises some sticky questions about privacy. Mr Pledge himself has begun to forgo his supermarket loyalty-card discount on junk food and pay for his burgers in cash. Promising as data mining is, much will depend on how regulators, and consumers, react.
He also notes that he's working on a system that will go through your social media profiles to see if you provide any info insurers may want to know about. This, of course, is the natural extension of our data explosion. But, in my experience, all of these companies who collect data seem to do an incredibly bad job at getting it right. And... as long as there's that "cash hole" for data, it's hard to see how accurate such information would really be.

Filed Under: data mining, health, insurance, social media


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  1. icon
    Jesse (profile), 22 Jun 2012 @ 8:49am

    Re: Use Cash

    I was thinking about this. How do you make purchases untraceable?

    The reason is I wanted to get VPN via bitcoins. But then I needed to get bitcoins. So I was going to pay cash to get a chargeable credit card, but everyone uses security cameras.

    An okay solution. If you just walk in with a mask, people get weird. Instead, ride a motorcycle. Park a ways away, so as not to get your license plate on parking lot cameras. Keep the helmet on, tinted visor. I used to do this all the time when I rode, out of convenience; it can be a hassle to take off the gloves and mask just for a quick purchase.

    Alternatively, you could just buy yourself a burqa for an anonymous day of cross dressing (for the men anyways).

    Lastly, you could do it on silk road. Also, use a string of bitcoin tumblers for extra security.

    I don't really need this level of security, but it is more of a thought challenge as a proof of concept.

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