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. identicon
    Scout Mac, 10 Jun 2014 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Individual insurance rates.

    Hello,
    I realize this is a strange way to reach out but I work for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. I saw post you put up on brokers and medical data. We are doing a story on data brokers who mine people’s medical information and are looking for people who may have had this happen to them or have some experience with it to give us a TV interview.
    The interview would likely happen sometime in the next two weeks and depending on your location we can send a camera crew to you or even do an interview over Skype.

    If this is something you’d be interested in please get in touch, my email is Sarah.MacEachron@nbcuni.com

    Feel free to verify my identity via Google this is not a trick!

    Thank you very much,

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