Privacy and Big Data

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

laptop computers (Klein Photography/flickr)

Emily Steel, the Financial Times' Media and Marketing correspondent, discusses Big Data and the corporate competition to accumulate information about consumers. She looks at new data analytics products and services in today's industry, the future of data broker laws and regulations, and what privacy advocates are doing.


Emily Steel

Comments [22]

thatgirl from manhattan

Fuva - Exactly! NPR/WNYC introduced us to Zoe Chase in the past year or so, and all I can think of is "excited 16-year old from Milwaukee." She covered post-Sandy work and financial industry malfeasance, and made it all sound like I was hearing it from a locker room at Sweet Valley High.

You'd be surprised how many people chime in/smack their heads when I mention Chase! But truthfully--this kind of feedback can bring about change. There was an announcer on WNPR (CT) who sounded like she was on lithium and selling marital aids--and she did news and program announcements. I know I wasn't the only one to complain, and now, about a year or so later, one would never recognize her as the same person whose voice gushed like a sorority girl over incoming bad weather.

When people can't get past how you're saying what you do, rather than the substance of it, it's not good.

Jun. 18 2013 04:09 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Hey Tish, I posted agreeing with you and my comment got removed too. I see here others agree. I wonder why their comments weren't removed. And I wonder how many other comments were eremoved or rejected. You know that line about someone have a face for the radio? That woman has a voice for print journalism.

Jun. 18 2013 04:01 PM
Tom R. from CT

I'm a NPR fan but the interview with Ms. Steel was unbalanced, "ignorance" radio at it's worst. Yes, shady data practioners do exist - but they are few and by no means the norm. She grossly generalizes, biasly characterizes and lumps companies which use data - provided by customers themselves and publically available compiled data - as an evil "they" or "big data" operating in a "shadowy, unregulated world." This is false and naive. Reputable catalogers, direct marketers, retail and e-commerce companies (like LL Bean & Amazon) all use data to market smarter and more efficiently while respecting privacy. They are regulated (out the wazoo)by congress. Data and information services are a viable and important part of the economy. Check out the Direct Marketing Assoc. Shame on NPR for such a 1-sided report.

Jun. 18 2013 03:30 PM
fuva from harlemworld

rudeboynyc, word. And I'm sure there was substance to her thesis here...But these tics have to say something about the zeitgeist...and it ain't good...

Jun. 18 2013 02:22 PM
rudeboynyc from williamsburg

fuva, i feel your pain over the so tick...;-)
but, at least, she doesn't use like 3 times or more in EVERY sentence like (1 time! ;-) so many of her peer group nowadays (disgust!)

Jun. 18 2013 02:13 PM
Tony from Canarsie

I just checked out and they have no record of my having dealt with any of their clients (maybe because I buy so little online).

One down, one thousand to go?

Jun. 18 2013 02:08 PM
Page Simon from Piermont

I went on (they do exist), and they knew who I was even without my typing in any information!

Jun. 18 2013 02:05 PM

Jun. 18 2013 01:59 PM
Tish from NYC

My previous comment was removed, no doubt because I was critical of Ms. Steel's voice which to my ears is unlistenable, which is unfortunate because this topic is important. But the point still holds that a guest is compelling no only because of what they have to say but also how they say it. After all, this is radio.

Jun. 18 2013 01:59 PM
fuva from harlemworld


Jun. 18 2013 01:57 PM
Howard from The Bronx seems not to exist

Jun. 18 2013 01:56 PM
fuva18 from harlemworld

@ that girl -- Say word on Zoey Chace!!...And no modulation whatsoever. The same tone for some quirky story and a Hurricane Sandy tragedy.

Jun. 18 2013 01:54 PM

I think she can help it- listen to Terry Gross' interview with Tina funny and spot on.

Jun. 18 2013 01:52 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Oh, Miscellaneous, I hear ya...
Though, I realize that this may be a low blow and maybe she can't help her voice...But she (and her contemporaries) can help the 'so' tick. Or can she?

Jun. 18 2013 01:47 PM
Michelle from Brooklyn, NY

When I found out I was pregnant I made an appointment for an ultrasound. Soon after that first appointment I began receiving coupons for baby items. I had told no one, didn't google anything or register on any pregnancy sites. Do insurance companies release this information?

Jun. 18 2013 01:46 PM
page simon from Piermont NY

I worked for a short time in direct mail (mea culpa), and one of the sad things that happened was receiving angry letters from parents whose infant had died. They had given out information when they got a "welcome baby" package of sample products in the hospital, and for years after they received mail geared to the supposed age of their baby. Terrible.

Jun. 18 2013 01:46 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Tish - Seriously!

I don't know how Ms. Steel can carry on a broadcast-worthy conversation with a voice that suggests she's eight years old (and yes--employs the annoying upward inflection at the end of every sentence), expecting to be perceived credibly.

Maybe she and Zoe Chase could get a group discount for coaching their childhood out of their professional voices.

Jun. 18 2013 01:44 PM
rudeboynyc from williamsburg

ok, so she has the perfect voice for print media, but she seems to be smarter & more interesting than a lot of other guests (and some hosts) on npr...
i.e. people who think they're competent enough to voice an opinion about the nsa/online privacy dilemma...

Jun. 18 2013 01:44 PM
Tony from Canarsie

Every year, millions of gift cards are not redeemed, so the companies not only get information about the card purchasers but also make a bonus profit from their cards not being used. What a sweet racket!

Jun. 18 2013 01:43 PM
Miscellaneous from New York

1. Ms. Steele DOES have the voice of a 5-year-old. Is it for real or is this just her interview voice? It's pretty annoying, as is her tendency to being every sentence with "so..."

2. I understand that now the NSA is surveilling our cell phone calls, sales of 1984 are increasing. I read both 1984 and Brave New World in junior high school and I hate the idea of this surveillance. Maybe the people doing it never read those books when they were young or they wouldn't be doing this now, OR, maybe their profit motive exceeds their social conscience.

3. We, as individual human beings, need to assert our right to privacy, but we can't do that if we keep using social media. Don't complain about your right to privacy when you openly display yourself on line.

4. Is there a way to shut down "Big Data," or do we need more hackers to get into the system and screw up the records?

Jun. 18 2013 01:41 PM
Elizabeth from Brooklyn, NY

Can consumers sabotage this data collection using a variety of tactics such as phoney names and searches that are irrelavent to yourself?

Jun. 18 2013 01:36 PM
A listener

A couple of things I have recently done to restore my diminishing attention span and reduce the amount of data that is sold about me is to stop using a smartphone and reduce the amount of time I spend online. After switching to a basic cell phone, I found all those apps that are presented as so crucial aren't really necessary at all.

Jun. 18 2013 01:31 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.