What Stays in Vegas : The World of Personal Data--Lifeblood of Big Business--And the End of Privacy as We Know It
Overview - The greatest threat to privacy today is not the NSA, but good-old American companies. Internet giants, leading retailers, and other firms are voraciously gathering data with little oversight from anyone. In Las Vegas, no company knows the value of data better than Caesars Entertainment. Read more...
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More About What Stays in Vegas by Adam Tanner
The greatest threat to privacy today is not the NSA, but good-old American companies. Internet giants, leading retailers, and other firms are voraciously gathering data with little oversight from anyone.
In Las Vegas, no company knows the value of data better than Caesars Entertainment. Many thousands of enthusiastic clients pour through the ever-open doors of their casinos. The secret to the company's success lies in their one unrivaled asset: they know their clients intimately by tracking the activities of the overwhelming majority of gamblers. They know exactly what games they like to play, what foods they enjoy for breakfast, when they prefer to visit, who their favorite hostess might be, and exactly how to keep them coming back for more.
Caesars' dogged data-gathering methods have been so successful that they have grown to become the world's largest casino operator, and have inspired companies of all kinds to ramp up their own data mining in the hopes of boosting their targeted marketing efforts. Some do this themselves. Some rely on data brokers. Others clearly enter a moral gray zone that should make American consumers deeply uncomfortable.
We live in an age when our personal information is harvested and aggregated whether we like it or not. And it is growing ever more difficult for those businesses that choose not to engage in more intrusive data gathering to compete with those that do. Tanner's timely warning resounds: Yes, there are many benefits to the free flow of all this data, but there is a dark, unregulated, and destructive netherworld as well.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Tanner takes readers beyond the headlines of national government snooping to unveil how private businesses are gathering personal data on multitudes of individuals every day. Tanner uses casinos and their practices to scaffold his study because they were some of the early users of customer data but his focus is much broader. Companies that most Americans have never heard of gather information from name, address and email to purchasing patterns, sexual orientation and mug shots. He repeats that these corporations generally "use our data for legitimate business purposes, essentially to market their products" without much discussion of whether marketing of this intensity on this scale is truly innocuous. He does acknowledge that personal data aggregation is not always used in the consumer's best interest. While much data gathering happens online via "cookies" that are possible to control, other activities such as gathering data from mobile devices involves no consent at all. He concludes by offering an appendix with various tools and strategies for controlling the flow of personal data while acknowledging that no single practice is a silver bullet but he offers no discussion of the potential harm posed by the possibility of hackers. Nevertheless, this should prove to be a valuable look at our startling lack of privacy. Agent: Alice Martell, Martell Agency (Sept.)