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.

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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Jun 2012 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    They might only be in the PayPal data base for 2 years, but who else has access to that data? Is Denny's data mining and keeping track of you.

    This is the problem is there is so much data, so many ways to get it, and no clear rules about all the details.

    I had my high school sell out decades of graduates to a company who wanted to sell us a directory of everyone for like 50 or 60 years... they paid the school for access to the records and gave them a cut of every sale, in return they were handed the full transcripts of every class, every teacher, every grade... of course they don't share information but funny I got a brand new wave of targeted mail to my full name that I never use...

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