Targeted by Target

All of us know that we are all the victims of electronic snooping by the government and business. But even I was unaware of the amount of sophisticated snooping that companies like the department store chain Target do on us. This clip from The Colbert Report reveals how they do it and what they can glean about us. Even I was surprised at how creepy the whole practice is.

The Colbert Report
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This clip appeared on February 22, 2012. (To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. Elipson says

    After viewing the clip, I have been wondering if main stream retailers will be shifting from a end user service, to selling information in the future. Also, would the information gathered be affected by European user information restrictions, if this was to happen in Europe?

  2. P Smith says

    The problem isn’t “big brother”, it’s the big bully, the kid who wants to beat you up and take your lunch money. Companies like this want to nickel and dime you out of your nickels and dimes.

    And who’s to say that companies like Target keep it strictly in house? Let’s say you go to a doctor at a private clinic to avoid having the visit put in your medical records and protect your coverage. If you get your prescription filled at Target or other companies, what’s to stop them from selling that info to your medical insurer, and you lose your coverage because of it?

    What I used to do when I signed up for “member cards” was to give a fake name, address and phone number that didn’t exist and weren’t used. I got use of the cards and though once a card was cancelled because they couldn’t verify the address, I just applied again with more fake info.

    This is one case where I would have no qualms about getting and using a piece of fake ID. Get one with your picture, and use it only to sign up at stores. Are you committing a crime by giving fake ID to Radio Shack when they ask for your address? Arguably, no. It’s only a crime if you’re applying for a credit card to steal, or a teen trying to enter a bar. I’m talking about getting a card that will let you buy something for ten cents less, something the stores are willing to do anyway. This is about protecting your privacy, not fraud.


  3. Mr Ed says

    From the LifeHacker article Link

    I’ve been using a browser plug-in called Do Not Track + for a couple of days now. It claims to stop code on web pages from reporting back on your web habits. I really don’t have any way of verifying if it is working. The website for the plug-in claims that they don’t track but who watches the watchers.

  4. TomeWyrm says

    The part that bugs me the most in that whole thing isn’t that Target is spying on shoppers, or that they’re using the knowledge gained to market to susceptible targets.

    The thing that really bugs me is the whole scenario about the teenaged girl and her father.

  5. unbound says

    Do Not Track Plus does a good job, although mine shows that it’s blocking 9 items right now.

    3 Ad Networks – Quigo, Quantcast, Zedo
    6 Companies – Google Adsense, Quigo Adsonar, Google Analytics, Quantcast, Zedo, StatCounter

    Some of the tracking items vary depending on the ad being served.

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