Monthly Archives: August 2017

Silicon Valley Responds to Trump and Hate

Silicon Valley, the very heart and brain of the nation’s tech industry, is sending a strong message to both Donald Trump and white supremacist, NO!

Since the neo-nazi and alt-right demonstration in Charlottesville the nation has come to realization that hatred and bigotry is alive and well and supported from the highest office in the land. But tech companies are reacting to shut racist down

Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted Trump for his words supporting racist in an email to Apple employees. In the email cook said,  “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.” Cook continued on to say, “Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

Cook announced that Apple will donate $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League.

Cook and Trump have locked horns before over his immigration and climate change positions. At the same time Cook has been working to influence Trump’s policies on issues from tax reform to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Apple has also shut down Apple Pay on all white supremacist websites selling clothing and accessories.

Google, the world’s largest and most powerful search engine acted quickly to cancel the Daily Stormer neo-nazi website’s domain registration. Google acted in a mere 3 hours after it signed up. A Google spokesperson stated that the Daily Stormer was “violating our terms of service.” Web hosting service GoDaddy also rejected the neo-nazi website. GoDaddy tweeted that is giving the site 24 hours to move to another domain provider for violating of its terms and services.

White supremacist bands are also being silenced online. Billboard.com reported that Spotify is removing “hate rock” from its streaming service. Other tech companies and forums shutting racist out include Reddit which bans ban hate groups, gaming chat app Discord also shut down racist accounts and GoFundMe shut down a campaign to support the man accused of driving a car into protesters this weekend in Charlottesville killing one women and injuring 19 others.

PayPal all took steps to shut down white supremacist outlets and Twitter even suspended an account that provided updates for the site.

Other financial services companies are also rejecting hate group’s commerce en masse. Square, Visa and Discover Card have all stopped hate groups from using their service to accept payments. Other companies rejecting neo-nazi activity on their platforms include Cloudflare which stripped away the Daily Stormer security and protection against hackers

But can all this action to shut down hate really make a difference? Some believe that hatred will survive online regardless. Neo-Nazi and hate groups have already moved onto the dark web according to news accounts. In the debate on racism, hate and the groups that support it some believe that sending these groups underground is counter-productive. The argument is to keep these groups out in the open so they can be monitored closely. Others, including the ACLU, have argued in support of hate groups to express themselves freely. The ACLU was key in helping the neo-nazi demonstrators win a court battle for permission to carry out the Charlottesville march.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement that hateful and bigoted speech must be heard. “Racism and bigotry will not be eradicated if we merely force them underground,” Romero wrote. “Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks such bigotry squarely in the eyes and renounces it.”

Facebook and Intel Report Diversity Improvement

Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Executive Diversity Chief

Facebook’s surprising diversity report showed marked improvement in hiring of women and minorities. While the report shows that Facebook is still overwhelmingly white and male the improvements show that Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Executive Diversity Chief, is having an effect on the company.   Facebook’s report revealed 35 percent of its staff  are women, up from 33 percent a year ago. The number of number of women in leadership positions is up a percent to 28 percent.

Even with these improvements retention of female employees in the tech sector is a another challenge. Women are leaving the industry after hire in the face or sexism and other bias. So these numbers for Facebook can only be considered an improvement if women stay on with the company.

The report shows an increase of Hispanic employees of 4 to 5 percent and African-Americans by 2 to 3 percent. However the guys at the top are still white men making up 71 percent of the company leadership. No change there.  The rest of the company leadership is held by Asians at 21 percent with other groups holding only 2 to 3 percent.

How is Williams making change happen? Along side the diversity report Williams blogged about initiatives she believes are improving Facebook’s hiring and workplace culture. She pointed out the  “Diverse Slate Approach,” which encourages consideration of applicants who don’t look like the hiring managers.  According to Williams Facebook has discovered that “the more people you interview who don’t look or think like you, the more likely you are to hire someone from a diverse background.”  Facebook’s “Managing Inclusion,” training program teaches managers to consider what issues affect under-represented groups.  Facebook believes that this training helps to build an understanding of how these employees or applicants arrived in tech the industry and what obstacles remain.

Williams believes Facebook is moving in the right direction but said, “We aren’t where we’d like to be.”

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

Another major tech company is also touting its diversity improvements.  Intel has reported that its diversity program is actually two years ahead of schedule.  In a recent blog post Intel CEO Brian Krzanich claims Intel is two years ahead of its original diversity plan. “We set out to achieve by 2020 an inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity we see every day in the world around us,” he wrote. “Doing this would bring the number of female, Hispanic, African-American and Native American employees in Intel’s 50,000-strong U.S. workforce to full representation.” According to Krzanich the goal is now moved up to 2018.

Krzanich, in a stand against racism, resigned from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council after comments the president made about the events in Charlottesville that one left one woman dead. According to Krzanich he wants to “…call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues…”

Intel’s mid-year report shows the company’s five-year plan is on track to bring full representation of  women, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in both technical and non-technical jobs. According to Intel full representation is defined as the “full market availability of women and underrepresented minorities.”

“In December of 2014, our gap to full representation was 2,300 employees. Today that gap has narrowed to 801 people, a 65 percent improvement, said Krzanich.

But like Facebook and other tech companies white and Asian men still represent  almost all top management positions. More than 90 percent of Intel’s mid to senior-level technical roles are white and Asian men.  Intel is also dealing with a retention problem with women and minorities. The company says it has added “diversity playbooks” and other programs to help managers hire and retain under-represented groups.

Although diversity in the tech sector is a real issue, and progress is epically slow, there is progress. According to workplace culture and company review platform Comparably  companies are doing better.

Comparably has come out with a list of the top ten companies that are doing better than most in the area of workplace diversity. The scores of these companies are on a 0-100 scale and based how female employees rate their experience at the company. The diversity score is based on how employees of color rate their experience at a company. Here is Comparably’s list for women.

For diversity

 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Will.I.Am, Floyd Money Mayweather, Miami Heat

Rapper/Entrepreneur Will.I.Am

Rapper/Entrepreneur Will.I.Am’s company i.am+, has acquired Wink, which makes hubs for connected household devices. Wink is widely considered to be one of the most popular smart home platforms.

Wink announced the acquisition by email praising Will.I.Am’s company and saying the two companies will be merging. The statement said in part, “Our teams are in the process of coming together to shape our future roadmap and we can’t wait to share what we’re working on. In the meantime, please know that your Wink app and Wink Hub will continue to operate just as they have. The acquisition doesn’t change anything with regards to the Wink user experience.”

Wink also announced in the email it will be introducing “a number of new in-app features and partner integrations in the coming months.”

The problem is that Will.I.Am does not have a very good track record with his technology investments. Among some of his less successful ventures include the Puls Smartwatch, an iPhone accessory that added a keyboard and interchangeable camera lens to the iPhones 4 and 5 and wired earbuds that were considered dead on arrival by critics. None of these ventures saw any notable success.

Will.I.Am is a known technology nerd who is obsessed with futuristic tech. So much so that Intel hired him to be their Director of Creative Innovation.

Will.I.Am, born William James Adams Jr, lacks experience building smart home products or the services that power them. This alone could spell trouble for his new investment. That being said, Wink is already a popular Internet of things platform with over 1.3 million devices connected as of last year. Will.I.Am, brother, we wish you luck.

Boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather

Is boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather about to enter the crypto currency ring? Mayweather posted on his Twitter page a picture of himself on a private jet with an ungodly amount of cash in front of him. In the post he claims to be ready to make a “$hit t$n of money” on August 26th.” 

Is Mayweather is talking about an ICO or Initial Coin Offering? ICOs are the newest form of fundraising. Companies use ICOs to raise money from the public by selling digital coins or tokens. Dozens of companies, many never before heard of,  have raised over $1 billion this year alone.

Maybe Mayweather is jumping on the ICO bandwagon with Stox.com.  Another company no one had ever heard of before Mayweather made them kinda famous. Stox.com claims that “every day [sic] people will be able to predict and trade the outcome of events in almost any imaginable category: Finance, sports, politics and even the weather.” Stox.com is seeking to raise $30 million.

There are few question that need to be answered, most important of all; is this method of raising capital even legal? The SEC expressed doubts by ruling that the coins or tokens sold in an ICO are actually unlicensed securities and violate federal law. Financial industry experts interpret this as a warning from the feds against ICOs.

The next question is, is Mayweather really investing in the ICO or just pumping up the company? You know, by endorsing them. If it is an endorsement he better say so because there is another government agency, the Federal Trade Commission, that is cracking down on undisclosed endorsements. Wait a minute! Mayweather said a “$hit t$n of money.” Was he talking about that $100 million fight with Connor McGregor? Thats on the 26th. Stay tuned!

For Miami Heat fans the future is now. The NBA team has announced that it is dumping paper tickets in favor of mobile based or smartphone tickets for home games. 

According to team management a third of all  fans used their smartphones to attend games last season. Other NBA teams like the Timberwolves and the Cavaliers have already switched to mobile tickets but those teams still offer the option for fans use a driver’s license and credit card to get into the stadium.

The new policy applies to all Heat tickets. Even if you walk up to American Airlines Arena and buy tickets at the box office, you’ll still get them on your phone. Re-sellers i.e, scalpers can relax. The Heat will still allow tickets to be transferred although how is not exactly clear.

Shonda Rhimes Makes the Move to Netflix

Shonda Rhimes

 Netflix has added a powerful new weapon to its war on conventional television. Shonda Rhimes, producer of a string of hits on ABC is moving her production company Shondaland from ABC to Netflix. Rhimes has agreed to a multi-year deal to produce new series and other projects for the streaming service.

Rhimes has a string of mega-hits at ABC that include Grey’s AnatomyScandal, and How to Get Away With Murder.  Rhimes long-time producing partner Betsy Beers will be joining her at Netflix.

Through an existing relationship Netflix already streams Rhimes’ hit shows. The shows will continue on ABC as the new seasons begins.

Chief Content Officer at Netflix, Ted Sarandos called Rhimes “one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television. Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best.” Sarandos added that she is a “true Netflixer at heart.”

Rhimes said the move is part of a plan between herself and Sarandos. In a statement she said, “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for, the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation.”

Expressing her gratitude to ABC for kicking off her career Rhimes said, “I continue to be grateful to work with so many talented people.” 

Netflix seems to be a new home for black artists and producers. A spokesperson stressed this point saying the streaming TV the company wants to be a home for black artists pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling.

Shonda is not the first black producer to join Netflix. Others include Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay,  Justin Simien, Dee Rees,  Yance Ford and “In Living Color” alum Marlon Wayans.

Attracting black producers is becoming a strength of Netflix’s effort to capture audience. The company claims to offer space for complete creative freedom. Netflix subscribers can see uncensored episodes of Spike Lee’s #BlackGirlMagic/#BlackBoyJoy on demand on any device with Netflix.

No financial terms or the partnership were released.

NAACP Partners with AirBnB to Fight Racism

AirBnB and the NAACP have teamed up to fight racism on the hospitality platform. Guests have repeatedly reported that hosts using the app have discriminated against people of color. Airbnb has been fighting for years with racism on its platform in the US and overseas.

The partnership seeks to involve more African-Americans in the sharing economy as an income stream and improve the diversity of hosts to curb discrimination.

Numerous cases have been reported of racist hosts denying rental applications from people of color claiming the accommodations are booked on the selected dates. Evidence indicates that these same hosts then rented the property to white users or leave the room vacant. Some hosts have turned away people of color at the door once they discover who they are.

Many of these incidents have been documented on social media, Quirtina Crittenden, an AirBnB user, coined the hashtag #airbnbwhileblack last year and it quickly went viral. Her action resulted in hundreds of personal stories of discrimination creating a public relations nightmare for Airbnb.

Racism on its platform is not only a public relations nightmare but an unacceptable business risk for AirBnB. In 2016 AirBnB narrowly escaped a potentially devastating racial discrimination case brought by Greg Selden. Selden, an African-American, fooled a racist host into accepting his application from a fake account using a picture of a white person after his original application was denied. He sued Airbnb claiming it violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Airbnb successfully moved the case to individual arbitration avoiding a class action suit.

This new partnership with the NAACP indicates that Airbnb is taking the fight against racism seriously. AirBnB chief business affairs officer Belinda Johnson said, “Our fastest-growing communities across major US cities are in communities of color and we’ve seen how home sharing is an economic lifeline for families. This partnership will build on this incredible progress. The NAACP is unrivaled in its tireless work to expand economic opportunities for minority communities and we look forward to collaborating with their talented team.”

The NAACP seeks to help Airbnb target communities that could benefit greatly for home-sharing services and the additional income they provide. Airbnb announced it will also donate 20 percent of its earnings from rentals in these communities to the NAACP. In return the NAACP will help AirBnB to improve its workplace diversity efforts.

Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement. “For too long, black people and other communities of color have faced barriers to access new technology and innovations. This groundbreaking partnership with Airbnb will help bring new jobs and economic opportunities to our communities.”

Retail Tracking- “Who Knows Everything?” Book Excerpt

“Who Knows Everything?” is the title of my upcoming book about consumer privacy and the corporate spying. This book details the technology, strategies and depth of corporate spying. The objective of the book is to expose the incredible amount of information collected by corporations and the detail and intrusiveness of this relentless spying. In this chapter you get an idea of what is happening to you as you simply walk through a store. And there is no law against it.

Retail Tracking

You are being followed…everywhere!

If you think you can only be tracked online I have some bad news for you. Merchants have begun tracking customers while they’re in the store, walking near the store and or driving to the store. One method used to track customers is to track their cell phones. Stores use the Wi-Fi signals coming from the customer’s cellphone to track where they go in the store and what they look at. Major retailers such as Nordstrom, Family Dollar and Cabela’s are testing these technologies and using the information to make decisions like changing store layouts and to tailor coupon offerings. Apps such as Apple’s iBeacon are also used to track customers in stores.

But you need to understand how far this tracking goes. You don’t even have to be in the store to be followed.

A recent case settled by the Federal Trade Commission revealed really creepy technology being used by retailers.  According to the FTC sensor technology built by Nomi Technologies tracked the physical movement of more than nine million customers via their smartphones.

The tracking worked like this. Nomi’s technology tracked the smartphones of customers as the device searched for Wi-Fi signals inside stores or almost anywhere the owner went. Nomi stored this information making their equipment capable of tracking the movement of people throughout its clients’ retail outlets. This tracking information could also be used to track people’s shopping habits between stores.  The same MAC address appearing in several different stores reveals valuable information about the person whose smartphone possesses that address. Basically, you are being watched even if you are not in the store!

The FTC is not however accusing Nomi of providing anybody your individual information. But the agency did accuse Nomi of tracking consumers both inside and outside of its clients’ stores. According to the FTC Nomi allegedly,

  • Used the tracking information to inform its clients how many consumers passed by store entrances without entering.
  • How long people remained in stores.
  • How many people who entered a store had been in that store or other stores of the same chain within a certain period of time.
  • And various other forms of tracking data.

Is this illegal? No, retail tracking is not illegal. There is almost nothing in this book that’s illegal!

Many retailers use advanced methods and technologies to track customers including bionic mannequins. But the FTC took action because Nomi may not have informed, or even mislead consumers of the tracking. According to Nomi’s privacy policy consumers were supposed to be able to opt out of being tracked.  The consumer could use Nomi’s website or “at any retailer using Nomi’s technology” opt out. Nomi did provide an opt-out option on its website. But the FTC claims that at various stores using Nomi’s technology there were no disclosure notices that the technology was in use and no way for consumers to opt out.

Nomi’s settlement with the FTC was not exactly lenient. Nomi is prohibited from future misrepresentations and subject to twenty years of privacy audits and compliance oversight. In other words, they have to do a better job of informing the consumer they can opt out of this tracking. This means that much better notices must be posted at stores, and easier onsite opt-out options will be made available. Umm, have you see them?

How to hide from retail tracking

Consumers who do not wish to be tracked can change their phone setting to airplane mode or turn off the Wi-Fi. Politicians are becoming more aware of the tracking and have begun to take action. Although not a law, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York brokered a code of conduct aimed at companies that provide tracking technology and analytical services. The agreement allows consumers to opt out of tracking at SmartStorePrivacy.org.

Some stores use video to watch where consumers go inside the store and how long they stay there. Stores can also recognize returning shoppers because their mobile devices have unique identification codes recorded in their networks. Merchants can now study how repeat customers behave and measure how often the consumer visits the store.

Retail spying technology

But the spying technology does not stop with Wi-Fi signals, cell phones and cameras. Now stores are using the lighting to track shoppers. Philips Electronics has developed connected lighting to track you. Yeah, lights! The company unveiled a pilot of a connected in-store LED lighting system that communicates with a smartphone app using the store lights.

How does it work? The lights placed in the store are used as a data channel. Placed in a grid pattern the lights become a positioning system. The grid then locates the smartphone by determining which lights on the grid are closest.

Customers using an accompanying app can then receive alerts based on whatever the shopper is looking for. Let’s say the shopper has a shopping list for a particular recipe. The app, using the store lighting grid, can direct the shopper to the ingredients and offer relevant coupons for those ingredients. So even the lights in the store are watching you.

Just so you know this is an emerging technology. Philips is not alone in producing spy lighting. ByteLight of Boston is also selling light-based proximity beacons that link to a phone’s camera. ByteLight’s goal is to turn a room’s lighting fixtures into a data casting system.

You’re probably thinking; how far can this tracking technology go? How about heat tracking?

New camera-based technology helps retailers track what the customer touches, what they ignore, and where they walk. This helps merchants optimize the layout of the store. They use real-time imaging to track how shoppers move around the store. The information is converted into heat maps. It’s a high-tech way to determine what consumer’s buy and how.

Prism Skylabs is one of the companies offering this technology. The company also provides analytical data to retailers. The company uses real-time video recordings from in store cameras and analyzes shopper’s movements. They are looking for two things, where shoppers go in the store, and what they stop to touch or pick up.

But let’s get really creepy. Did you know stores use high tech cameras to watch you? Known as gaze trackers, these tiny cameras are hidden in tiny holes in the shelving and they detect which brands you’re looking at and how long you look at it. Remember those bionic mannequins I told you about? Well they have cameras mounted in their eyes that detect a customer’s age, sex, ethnicity, and facial expressions as they pass by. And there is no law that requires a store to tell you the cameras are there.

What does the merchant do with this information?  It is extremely important to know how to layout the store and place products based on popular vs. unpopular and expensive vs. less expensive merchandise. Merchants want to know where to put these products to make them more likely to be purchased. Placing a product in the right place in the store can make a big difference. Why do you think all those mints, gums, candy and magazines are waiting for you at the checkout? These items are classified as impulse buys. It’s the same reason all the children’s cereals are located below your eye level but right online with the kid’s eyes. Merchants can also charge for premium placement of retail products adding additional revenue streams.

Meanwhile, out in the parking lot.

 While you’re in the store, being spied on and followed around, other companies are cruising the parking lot collecting data.  An investigation into license plate scanning describes how companies are sending people out to drive around shopping center parking lots with cameras strapped to their car. They are supposedly looking for cars to repossess. However, these camera-equipped cars are photographing every license plate they see along with time and location data. The data is then sent off to brokers like Digital Recognition Network of Texas. This company claims to collect plate scans of 40 percent of all U.S. vehicles annually. I am pretty sure there are other companies that collect the other 60 percent of the plates. What do you think they are doing with that information?

These car-mounted cameras can snap more than 100 pictures of license plates every minute and sort them against a database of cars slated for repossession. Needless to say, the repo man’s job has become a lot easier.

These license plate pictures go into that commercial database. The image is accompanied by location data revealing where the picture was taken. That data is then sold to global information brokering companies. These companies, the same ones that provide credit checks and identity protection, are also selling license plate data revealing where you’ve been, accompanied by records about what you own, where you live and who you associate with.

That data’s life becomes endless in the systems of big data companies. Your license plate records are bundled with your other personal information and sold, over and over again.

The practical uses of all this combined information are endless and terrifying. What if your auto insurance company decided to track where you drive and decided they don’t like the neighborhoods you visit? They may see you as a risk. Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Freedom Foundation said, “I would definitely be concerned with insurance companies getting access to this.”

Background checks performed by potential or current employers could reveal what businesses or establishments you frequent based on where your car is parked. A life insurance company could see for certain if you go to the gym on a regular basis as you claim by looking at data that shows if your car is in the gym lot regularly or not. What else could be learned just by tracking your car?

Digital Recognition Network, owner of the largest private database of license plate records, also collects data that’s used by law enforcement. Vigilant Solutions, an affiliate company, also provides license plate technology and data to law enforcement.

To ensure a steady stream of data DRN has contracts with 550 companies that hunt the streets across the nation with car-mounted, fast-action cameras.

What you have to understand is that the data that DRN and Vigilant Solutions collects is not connected to you right away. Refer back to the list of data points we talked about earlier in this book. Its after DRN sells the information that it becomes directly connected to you. Here’s another interesting fact, most people rarely travel more than twenty-five miles from home. Most of the businesses you frequent and places you go are fairly close to your residence. So, it’s pretty certain wherever your car is seen you live close by.

Your license plate data is combined with DMV information that finally identifies who owns the car. According to state contracts New York State DMV took in more than $4.3 million selling citizens personal DMV data in 2014 alone.

TransUnion, yeah the credit reporting people, is one of the companies that combines DMV records with license plate data and other records.

TransUnion demonstrated its top-of-the-line search that revealed how quickly a stranger can learn almost anything about you. Just entering your name in the search engine can reveal three months of location data on your car. The database will reveal what is at each location and plenty of personal information like your phone number, email addresses, social media accounts and home address. If that’s not enough the search engine will also expose your social network map, showing you, your family members, spouses, friends, acquaintances, etc. Are you sick yet?

License reader technology has become a favorite of law enforcement. But some police agencies, though required to delete this information, don’t. The Fairfax County, VA. police department was sued for violating a citizen’s privacy by retaining license plate data and even sharing it with other nearby police departments. According to Virginia law if the license plate data is not part of an ongoing investigation it must be destroyed within 24 hours.

A California man discovered that the local police department had collected images of his two cars 112 times in a database. He was shock to discover one image taken in 2009 that showed him and his two daughters getting out of one of his cars while it was parked in their driveway.

License plate data collection has become a concern not only for privacy advocates but the FBI as well. Internal documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that the FBI was instructed by its own lawyers to stop buying the devices for a time in 2012.

The FBI’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) was concerned about the agency’s use of the technology. The General Counsel focused on the lack of a clear government policy protecting the privacy of citizens whose vehicles are photographed by the readers. That concern prompted an order from the OGC to temporarily halt buying additional readers.

Is there any way you can avoid this level of spying? Probably not because someone already has your license plate in their database and it is probably connected to one or more of the profiles with your name on it.

However, you can eliminate the continued tracking of your vehicle by using devices that hide your license plates from cameras but not the naked eye. The filter fits over your license plate and clouds the image of your license plates from cameras. But to the human eye the filter is invisible. You can buy these devices online and at auto parts stores. Other devices use powerful flashes of light to blind traffic cameras. Some people have altered the license plate with tape or other items. This is almost always illegal.

Predicting Your Next Move

 Can marketers predict what you will do? Yes they can! Marketers can figure out, based on statistics and super sophisticated algorithms what you want to buy. Go back and read about Applied Predictive Technologies again. It’s called predictive technology and it’s catching on big time in the marketing industry. Why? Because marketers that use predictive technology have outperformed those who don’t. The bottom line is, competition.

But how does predictive technology work? Companies use super computers with highly sophisticated algorithms to calculate statistics and hundreds of variables. They use all the data they collect and create a pretty accurate model of what the consumer will do or how they will react to marketing efforts. It’s called data mining. Its information converted to numbers so computers can see into the future. But regardless of how advanced the technology is you’re still dealing with people. There are plenty of examples of people defying even the most precise computers and algorithms.

The government can’t but corporations can.

 The most troubling fact about the information you have already read is that the government is absolutely forbidden from investigating your life in the manner corporations do. Law enforcement needs to convince a judge that they need the information for a criminal investigation. They need a search warrant.

 The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, The Bill of Rights, guarantees protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Bill requires a judge to authorize any search and that there be a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and there is evidence of that crime.

No such law applies to corporations. They are free to investigate everything about you they wish. And they don’t have to tell you they are doing it nor do they have to reveal what they found. And, as we have said before, it really does not have to be correct.

And do I need to tell you that the government is buying this data? According to the World Privacy Forum the U.S. government began using a database called “The Work Number” in 2013. The database is owned by Equifax and contains 225 million active salary and employment records and 175 million historical records. Over 50,000 organizations use the database to verify employment and salary history. The company collects payroll data from thousands of U.S. employers and sells it to companies like credit card issuers, property managers, auto lenders, universities and governments at all levels. So, as you can see, the IRS is not the only agency that knows how much money you make.