Hiding a pregnancy from Big Data might get you flagged as a criminal.

Things I read when I procrastinate


A friend of mine sent me an interesting read this morning: a Mashable story on Princeton sociology professor Janet Vertesi’s mission to prevent marketers from discovering her pregnancy. The manner of methods by which she evaded detection are striking reminders of how embedded in our daily lives are the means of personal data collection–and retrieval.

By now, most people have at least a general understanding of what data mining is and how marketers collect and trade in mined personal data in order to create micro-targeted advertisements for consumers. What they may not know is which consumers retail marketers value over others: new parents. Charles Duhigg, a reporter for the New York Times, broke this story in 2012:

“Because birth records are usually public, the moment a couple have a new baby, they are almost instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies. Which means that the…

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