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Thu Nov 28, 2013, 02:49 PM

 

Walmart Now Possesses Info On An Estimated 145 Million Americans: Analysis - HuffPo

Walmart Now Possesses Info On An Estimated 145 Million Americans: Analysis
Jillian Berman - HuffPo
Posted: 11/26/2013 5:31 pm EST | Updated: 11/26/2013 5:58 pm EST

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Walmart has amassed a trove of personal data on 60 percent of adult Americans -- possibly over 145 million people -- according to estimates from a report released Tuesday.

The retailing giant collects information on what shoppers buy, where they live and what they like via in-store Wi-Fi, Walmart.com and other company apps, according to the report. The analysis was prepared by three pro-worker advocacy groups, The Center for Media Justice, ColorofChange.org and SumOfUs. Information on shoppers allows Walmart and more than 50 third-party sites to profile customers and infer things like relative age, income, gender and race in order to target people for specific products and deals, according to the report.

“This is part of a growing trend that leaves American consumers -- particularly consumers of color and poor consumers -- really vulnerable to violations of their online privacy,” said Malkia Cyril, the head of the Center for Media Justice, a left-leaning media rights advocacy group. In order to compile its figure, the report's authors used a Walmart statement in which the company's CEO said that 60 percent of Americans shop at the store each month. The authors then used U.S. adult population estimates, and assumed the company had information on all shoppers based on statements about Walmart data collection.

Walmart E-commerce Spokesman Dan Toporek disputed some of the report's findings, noting that most of Walmart's stores aren't Wi-Fi-enabled and that the company doesn't track shoppers in stores. He said the company takes pains to protect customer privacy and mostly uses customer data and passes it along to third-party sites in aggregate rather than individually. So for example, the company knows that people who buy detergent are more likely to also buy fabric softener, he said, allowing the company to target deals accordingly.

"We use that to deliver a better customer experience," Toporek said. "Third parties don't see that individual information."

While the strategy of using customer information from price scanners and loyalty cards to target customers isn't new, what's striking here is...

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More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/walmart-data_n_4344879.html?utm_hp_ref=business


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