One of the ironies of Libertarianism in America is its soft-spot for Capitalism — as though anything that brands itself free, like free-enterprise, actually promotes freedom. Libertarians never tire of warning about the threats posed by the NSA and other intrusive government agencies, while the coercive and covert power of commerce generates far less fury.
Yet anyone who is genuinely concerned about infringements on civil liberties through electronic systems of surveillance, probably needs to be more wary of business than they are of government.
Most of the data the government collects gets poured into digital black holes — the data being collected for business applications, however, is constantly being mined to extract all its value.
Government might be watching you, but business is telling you where to go.
The New York Times reports: Pass a billboard while driving in the next few months, and there is a good chance the company that owns it will know you were there and what you did afterward.
Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, which has tens of thousands of billboards across the United States, will announce on Monday that it has partnered with several companies, including AT&T, to track people’s travel patterns and behaviors through their mobile phones.
By aggregating the trove of data from these companies, Clear Channel Outdoor hopes to provide advertisers with detailed information about the people who pass its billboards to help them plan more effective, targeted campaigns. With the data and analytics, Clear Channel Outdoor could determine the average age and gender of the people who are seeing a particular billboard in, say, Boston at a certain time and whether they subsequently visit a store. [Continue reading…]