In early 2012, an infamous story appeared concerning Targets practice of predictive analytics. The story was about
In early 2012, an infamous story appeared concerning Target’s practice of predictive analytics. The story was about a teenager girl who was being sent advertising flyers and coupons by Target for the kinds of things that a new mother-to-be would buy from a store like Target. The story goes like this: An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager: “My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?” The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture, and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again. On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
Questions for Discussion
1. What do you think about data mining and its implications concerning privacy? What is the threshold between knowledge discovery and privacy infringement?
2. Did Target go too far? Did they do anything illegal? What do you think they should have done? What do you think they should do now (quit these types of practices)?
Step by Step Answer: