Loyalty cards and what they really know of you

Viimeisellä rannalla (in Finnish) acquired the list of information that is collected from you when you use the Plussa card. It's quite impressive, including things like whether you own a cat or a dog, how old your children are, where your summer cottage is, and how you live - all connected to your social security number.

I don't have any loyalty cards (except for frequent flyer cards). I always feel uncomfortable with people prying my personal details - I like to be in control of the things that are known about me. Blogging allows me to lie as much as I want (not that I do it that often, but it's good to know the option is there) - but lying on your shop receipt is a lot more difficult (and expensive).

Luckily, in Europe we have pretty good personal information protection laws. I'd hate to think what happens if these databases that are collected about us were combined and misused. You see, corporations tend to think like psychopaths, and almost anything can be sacrificed to increase profits. (Only the well-to-do corporations can afford to be benevolent.) Including your right to privacy.

Update: Dan Gillmor touches this (and my next entry) in his new column: "Insidiously, the Bush administration has turned the corporate data mongers into partners in the dawning surveillance state. Evading even the most trivial safeguards, including federal laws protecting privacy, it buys or uses data collected by private companies that are under no such restrictions." It's a good read.




Comments

They have these in the US, too and you almost can't get around using them since they make it more of a hassle if you don't. The difference between here and there is that because they aren't giving you those bonus points and discounts for 'free', they get to use that data pretty much however they want to and sell it to whomever they want. Of course, the US credit card companies already have more information on you than the FBI or any other federal agency anyway so if some grocery store wants to sell your address to a vendor who sells stuff that you generally buy, it's not much of a shock. Personally, I think those cards are evil.

--80.186.148.112, 27-Oct-2004


Yes, I was trying not to mention the US situation, as I don't know enough of it. I do know that private companies have almost no restrictions as to how information is collected and used.

The government then obviously buys this information from the private corporations, because they have restrictions as to what information can be collected.

--JanneJalkanen, 27-Oct-2004


I'm glad there are others who don't like this kind of data collection as well. Most of my friends laugh at me and say "who cares - it's not like they are evil companies" or something closely related. Sometimes I kindly reply to the clerk at the counter when he/she asks for such a card, "I respect my privacy" and sadly they don't usually get it - they don't see the information the company collects.

--Antti, 27-Oct-2004


You can always remind them of Sonera and ask "are you sure corporations never abuse their powers?"

--JanneJalkanen, 27-Oct-2004


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