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How To Protect Your Privacy and Make Money 123

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the pardon-my-skepticism dept.
itwbennett writes "You have precious personal information; marketers are willing to pay good money for it; and now there are services to broker the deal. London-based Allow Ltd., for example, negotiates with marketers on your behalf and cuts you in on the deal. One Allow customer, Giles Sequeira, made a whopping $10 for letting a single credit card company know that he's in the market for new plastic. In the US, a company called Personal is starting a similar pay-for-data service, and you can hop on its waiting list now." Anyone selling bridges?
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How To Protect Your Privacy and Make Money

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Posting anonymous so that... Bots can't dig my posting habits!!

    • by msauve (701917)
      My name is Rufus T. Firefly. I live at 123 Main St., Anywhere, USA. My phone number is +1(800)555-1212. My Social Security number is 078-05-1120.

      How much do I get paid?
    • by antdude (79039)

      /. bots dig with your IP address and trace back even through proxies. [grin]

  • by iYk6 (1425255) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:23PM (#35352574)

    How does this protect your privacy? It sounds more like selling your privacy.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Obvious slashvertisment.
      • by spun (1352)

        I thought that at first, too, because it sounds like a press release. But slashdot user itwbennett has an actual posting history and submissions that include various things of interest to geeks that don't appear to be corporate press releases. If this is a slashvertisement, it is a slashvertisement for IT World, not these services.

        • by h00manist (800926)

          I thought that at first, too, because it sounds like a press release. But slashdot user itwbennett has an actual posting history and submissions that include various things of interest to geeks that don't appear to be corporate press releases. If this is a slashvertisement, it is a slashvertisement for IT World, not these services.

          And are you an actual person, or are you a virtual person creating a virtual testimony to create a virtual good reputation for your other virtual profile.

          • Does anyone here know? How much information is there on people, who are the groups that have it, how to access it, and when do these laws start meeting resistance and limitations? The Habeas Data and FOIA laws give you the right to know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_Data [wikipedia.org]. The lesson of Wikileaks and these laws are, information is power. We need some public information and intelligence agencies, too. Enough information for government only, we all have a right to information too.
          • HBGary?
          • by spun (1352)

            I just showed you how to find out, do you need a tutorial? Look at the user's posting history, diaries, and submission. It should be easy enough to tell if it's a real account.

          • a) Unlike computers, we don't yet have software to virtualize people. Though it's a neat concept, isn't it? "Restore from save: This will wipe all memory since last save. Continue? Y/N"

            b) We are all of us virtual persons here. I doubt your friends call you "h00manist" any more than mine call me "Sabt Pestnu".

            c) As reputation is the province of the beholder, not the subject, "virtual reputation" only makes sense if the entity is not a "real person". I guess that actuarial software could hold a "vir

    • by alvinrod (889928) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:32PM (#35352670)
      It doesn't, but if you're personal information is going to be whored out anyway, you might as well at least be the one pimping it.
    • Once you have sold all of your privacy, all the privacy you have left (none) is 100% protected.
    • by causality (777677)

      How does this protect your privacy? It sounds more like selling your privacy.

      I've argued before that the way online advertisers track your browsing habits and otherwise take your personal data without first asking is like a form of piracy. It absolutely amounts to treating you as a resource like so much lumber or livestock. What I found was that many people are willing to make excuses and rationalizations for it. Some of them even acted like it's some kind of public service to invade your privacy in order to spam you with ads for things you are more likely to buy, as though you c

      • by flowwolf (1824892)

        When you visit somebodies web server, the information regarding that visit is not your personal property. If you don't want them to record and mine your activities on their website, don't visit that website. Get noscript and live on the internet that way

        Thats like walking into a 7/11 and bitching because they're recording you without asking. Its like getting on public transit and bitching at the driver because there are passenger counters installed. Its like going to your local politician up in arms

        • by causality (777677) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @08:43PM (#35353134)

          When you visit somebodies web server, the information regarding that visit is not your personal property. If you don't want them to record and mine your activities on their website, don't visit that website. Get noscript and live on the internet that way

          Thats like walking into a 7/11 and bitching because they're recording you without asking. Its like getting on public transit and bitching at the driver because there are passenger counters installed. Its like going to your local politician up in arms about the traffic counter installed on the road you take home. Frankly, I have no idea what personal data is supposed to mean in this context. You're visiting somebody else's domain. How is a record of that and what you do there, belong to you in any way shape or form?

          It would be courteous of you to learn what browser tracking is, how it is performed, and what sorts of data can be gathered before deciding to speak about the subject. That would save me some time and Slashdot some bandwidth.

          That the owner of a particular site knows my IP address visited that specific site is not the problem. In short, the problem is that there are multiple ways in which an organization can track your browsing across many different sites that said organization does not own.

          This is not like complaining that the local 7/11 recorded my visit. This is more like the local 7/11 hiring someone to follow me around and record every store I visit.

          Now that the very most basic bit of knowledge about this subject has been spoonfed to you, perhaps you could revise your position in light of this new information.

          • by flowwolf (1824892)

            Even though there are ways to be tracked in such a manner across domain, its not accepted. You're just making justifications for hating all of online tracking, including those done by the domain you're visiting. Sites that perform these shady techniques to track your browsing are not smiled upon by the status quo. You're talking about all forms of tracking in your first point, and then justify such a position by presenting techniques usually reserved for use only by porno sites.

            This kind of tracking

            • by causality (777677)

              Even though there are ways to be tracked in such a manner across domain, its not accepted. You're just making justifications for hating all of online tracking, including those done by the domain you're visiting. Sites that perform these shady techniques to track your browsing are not smiled upon by the status quo. You're talking about all forms of tracking in your first point, and then justify such a position by presenting techniques usually reserved for use only by porno sites.

              This kind of tracking has been happening for ages anyways. If you buy gas with your CC every time, that data can be used to track your travels. Even your licence plate driving past cameras can be used to track you. The point is, you leave cookie crumbs everywhere you go doing everything you do. How does this cookie trail even begin to belong to you? How is it YOUR data? These are the main questions of my original point but you completely dodged them. Instead you chose to attack my intelligence. Bravo Sir.

              I don't think I need to explain to you the facts about bandwidth as I assume you're trying somehow to discredit my opinion with that entirely off topic comment; However, you may need to know that slashdot's entire purpose for being are these discussions. You seem to need to be spoon fed this obvious fact though so here comes the airplane open the hanger! VROOOM

              You're just making justifications for hating all of online tracking, including those done by the domain you're visiting.

              Yes, it's just because I'm so full of hate. It can't possibly be that I oppose something on principle. What is this, mainstream politics?

              Sites that perform these shady techniques to track your browsing are not smiled upon by the status quo.

              What, you mean like Google? How about Doubleclick? It wouldn't be hard to name plenty of others who perform tracking but I think my point is made.

          • Perhaps it is time to fight back?

            I dislike that any web site I visit can pull irrelevant information from my browser.. perhaps a privacy option or plugin for Firefox which whitelists information provided to websites?

            Perhaps allow either an override or random values to be sent instead?

            We know that Mozilla is looking into similar options - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1334615/Privacy-victory-Firefox-plans-stop-firms-tracking-look-online.html [dailymail.co.uk] - but this is addressing the problem at a higher

            • Besides the add-ons you already run, you might want to change host and agent data (and some other information) directly in about:config. Not a solution for the average Joe, but maybe worth it. And maybe somebody will write an add-on that will allow to change those data in a more user-friendly fashion.
              • There is an addon for firefox called "user agent switcher" that can send almost any host+browser combination (including iphone, ipad etc) you want.
                • Yes, the user agent switchers are useful. I was proposing to go one step further and have an interface for any information send to / from the browser.

                  Hmm. A thought. Much of what we see today comes from inventive minds of the past (Sci Fi paperbacks come to mind from the 50's and 60's onward). Once the idea is out..

              • Yes, much like the cookie control panel added into Firefox.. and in FF3 kind of hidden.

                Firefox has a good start - all (?) of the information available is accessible.

                It's only when people realise what this data means and how it is used that they will start to move. Most of my family and friends now use firefox with adblock plus, at a minimum.

          • Although you took care to attack your parent's knowledge of computer basics, he does have a point you did not address: The only information captured automatically about me is that IP X visited the site. The rest of the info is stuff I gave them voluntarily (my name, etc.). After that, the sites just cooperate (either directly or through a third party) to aggregate all the instances of IP X visiting their site. It is not like 7/11 hiring somebody to follow me, but more like 7/11 talking with WalMart and any

    • by icebike (68054)

      How does this protect your privacy? It sounds more like selling your privacy.

      Well, it could work out if it were turned around a bit (and the middle man eliminated).

      If every time they contacted you (mail, email, phone) with a sales pitch, they had to send that 10 dollar bill along as payment for your attention and use of your mailing address, it would greatly reduce the value of a list of random names that some company is trying to sell them. If a million name list costs 10 million dollars to use each time it is used, the value and the usage of the list and the collection of the sam

    • Protect your privacy OR make money is more like it...
    • Two years ago I was shopping around for a credit card. I don't care who knew; indeed I told my friends soliciting advice. Earn money too? Sure.

    • by AJH16 (940784) *
      From the article, the company that provides the service uses UK laws to track down marketing databases that have your information and files requests to remove the information on your behalf. So basically they scrub your info from any competitors databases allowing you to control where your information goes.
  • Although this does seem a bit like getting paid to donate blood, somehow good but wrong... this guy [freedom-to-tinker.com] has some interesting writing on how selling your 'private' data can be a good idea.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      What is wrong with getting paid to donate blood?

      I have blood someone wants it, why should I not be at least paid for the time it takes to get it?

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Being paid to donate blood, a renewable resource, isn't wrong in my opinion. It's a bona fide incentive to part with something you need, as well as spend time draining it out.

      At any rate, it's better than a blood tax.

  • One Allow customer, Giles Sequeira, made a whopping $10 for letting a single credit card company know that he's in the market for new plastic.

    If you make $10 selling your own personal information, guess where they'll recover their $10 from, a bit later. You. And they'll make a profit.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Considering I have never paid a late fee or interest on a credit card since college, please tell me how they do that. I always pay it off every two weeks and spend the rewards when I get X amount. How are they making money?

      My real interest is because if this does make them money I will probably stop doing it. My biggest reason besides the rewards for doing this is to hurt these banks.

      • by Auroch (1403671) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @07:32PM (#35352660)

        Considering I have never paid a late fee or interest on a credit card since college, please tell me how they do that. I always pay it off every two weeks and spend the rewards when I get X amount. How are they making money?

        My real interest is because if this does make them money I will probably stop doing it. My biggest reason besides the rewards for doing this is to hurt these banks.

        You mean, the fact that there is a hidden cost of using a credit card built into your daily life doesn't bother you? Of course, you don't see the price increase, the merchants build it in. Generally speaking, you can get a cash discounted price at a mom and pop store for simply paying debit or cash - because then they don't pay the CC company and the related merchant fees.

        So, yeah, I guess just so long as you don't actually *see* the increased cost, it won't bother you. And for big-box stores, those prices are part-and-parcel of their merch, so abstaining from using a CC may not help you there ... but if you're okay promoting the practice, then keep on plastic-ing.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          I have never gotten a cash discount at any store that I know of. Heck, if they offered it I would go for it.

          I am fine with increased costs I cannot change, no point in worrying about that.

          • by RingDev (879105)

            Most stores CC agreements prevent them from marketing it or even doing it. But if you ask a Ma & Pa store owner at the register "is it any cheaper if I pay with cash?" You'll usually hear about their CC fees.

            One local game store around here openly acknoledges it. They can't give you a discount due to their contract with their CC provider, but they do openly point out that you are doing more to support the store by paying with cash or debit.

            -Rick

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              Oh wow, support their game store. Do they donate all their profits to the poor? Maybe they sell everything at nearly cost and operate as a non-profit?

              Otherwise I fail to see why I should care. They are trying to make money off of me just like the credit card folks. How are they any more deserving?

              • by Stregano (1285764)
                Because they will not find ways to fuck you in the ass like a CC company will
                • by mattack2 (1165421)

                  You seem to be missing the point. I, and h4rr4r, pay off our credit cards every month.

                  Thus it is *more* convenient _and cheaper_ (due to rewards, which yes, I realize is simply giving me back a bit of what they charged the store) to use credit cards. The VAST majority of stores take credit cards nowadays, so they must be doing it for a reason.

                  The only time I see cash discount is at (many but not all) gas stations. Though most of the time, the actual price paid when taking into account rewards, the credit

              • by Auroch (1403671)

                Oh wow, support their game store. Do they donate all their profits to the poor? Maybe they sell everything at nearly cost and operate as a non-profit?

                Otherwise I fail to see why I should care. They are trying to make money off of me just like the credit card folks. How are they any more deserving?

                You mean, why should you support a real-life store that provides you with real benefits, as opposed to a nebulous company which provides you with a way to access a highly predatory loan with an outrageous interest rate?

                I'd like to know why you insist on using a CC when a line of credit is usually 1/2 the cost...

                • by h4rr4r (612664)

                  CC costs me nothing, I pay it every 2 weeks. CC companies hire people, give me cash back and a free loan. What does the game store do that compares?

                  What line of credit provides cash back?

              • Gotta be pretty naive to not see the benefits of small local businesses.

                • he acknowledges it, but doesn't care. he is already costing the CC company money by claiming rewards without paying yearly fees or interest. however for every dollar he costs them they are making $1000 back on those who have had the same mindset, found they needed to lean on the credit card for any period of time, and had to pay back the interest. i doubt they are worried because someone can stick to a budget, where as thankfully to them not many people can. tldr; the CC company make their money back on id
          • by Auroch (1403671)

            I have never gotten a cash discount at any store that I know of. Heck, if they offered it I would go for it.

            I am fine with increased costs I cannot change, no point in worrying about that.

            I am okay, accepting the things I cannot change.

            But I am not accepting the things I don't think I can change, because I never bothered to asked, because I wasn't informed enough to do so.

            I guess the problem is "how to know that you don't know" ...

          • by thegarbz (1787294)
            That depends on the store and how they manage their own finances. Some stores will wear the cost and place them into an increase in prices on the shelf, others will apply a surcharge on the way out. When I bought my university textbooks there was a sign at the counter showing the credit card surcharges. They differed depending on the card with MasterCard and VISA being the lowest (3%) and diners club and AMEX being the most expensive at (7%). I paid cash. There was an ATM next to the store so I think pretty
        • You mean, the fact that there is a hidden cost of using a credit card built into your daily life doesn't bother you? Of course, you don't see the price increase, the merchants build it in. Generally speaking, you can get a cash discounted price at a mom and pop store for simply paying debit or cash - because then they don't pay the CC company and the related merchant fees. So, yeah, I guess just so long as you don't actually *see* the increased cost, it won't bother you. And for big-box stores, those prices are part-and-parcel of their merch, so abstaining from using a CC may not help you there ... but if you're okay promoting the practice, then keep on plastic-ing.

          In addition to this flaw, from a psychological standpoint people also spend more [livescience.com] when using a credit card.

        • by Sky Cry (872584)

          CCs are good for the merchants too:

          1) Having less cash to keep and to transfer to the bank means less risk. (They can transfer part of this risk to an ensured security company, that handles the bank transfer, but the amount of cash will affect the price of the security company service.)

          2) People are more likely to buy things when they are not limited by the amount of cash they have on person.

      • Considering I have never paid a late fee or interest on a credit card since college, please tell me how they do that. I always pay it off every two weeks and spend the rewards when I get X amount. How are they making money?

        My real interest is because if this does make them money I will probably stop doing it. My biggest reason besides the rewards for doing this is to hurt these banks.

        It's not you they make money from. It is the person who does not pay off the balance, and thus incurs interest charges.

        Actually, come to think of it, there may be per transaction fees between the merchant and the credit card company, allowing them to make money off of every purchase you make on your card whether you pay interest or not. Some places will charge you less if you pay cash.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          What places?

          I have heard this claim, but never found such a place.

          • Half the independent newsagents/corner shops in the UK will charge an extra 50p to £1 if you pay by card (either credit or debit)

          • I've visited Rhode Island several times, and several gas stations there have 2 prices listed now. You pay ~5 cents less per gallon of gas if you pay cash.

            This was in the Warwick / West Warwick area.
          • by Ibiwan (763664)
            Arco. Any Mexican grubbery in So Cal. Many small grocery stores.
          • Check out small computer parts places in your local Chinatown.
        • They also make money by selling your purchase history to third parties.

          As for the charging less for cash, banks, credit card companies and credit processing companies all get a cut when you pay plastic, and the merchant isn't officially allowed to adjust their price for credit payment. To get around this, some companies add in bonuses for cash purchases. I usually see this at import/export companies, specialty stores, and tech stores.

          For that matter, I've also seen this for online payments (PayPal for ins

      • Considering I have never paid a late fee or interest on a credit card since college

        You are paying the extra 3 or so percent that all the merchants increase their prices by to pay for the credit card fees. Now the fees go to the company who paid you the $10. At 3% and $10, they only need you to spend $334 before they make money on the deal.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          But If all merchants have this price increase and I cannot avoid paying it, why should I worry about that?

          Sounds like it is better to take the $10 and at least get something out of the deal.

          • by flowwolf (1824892)
            You're missing the point. They profit off of you every time you use the card. The merchant is charged that cost and their costs are raised in price so that you have the convenience of paying with your card. If you think that using your credit card daily is sticking it to the banks... you're very mistaken. Thats exactly what they want you to do.
            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              But I cannot escape those raised prices. By at least giving nothing more to the banks I come out ahead.

              • Bzzt. By at least giving nothing more to the banks you come out less behind than you would have. You escape the raised prices by living in a credit card-free society. OR, you escape the raised prices by shopping local, paying cash, and having the extra money go to your local business who then in turn has more money to spend on what YOU are selling, without the money being siphoned out of the local economy to be hoarded by credit companies/banks.

                That said, I pay plastic for everything, because I admit tha

              • You, individually, can't easily escape those raised prices. But clearly, if enough people decided NOT to use credit cards, the market power of the CC companies would be reduced, with all kinds of consequences. Even if you never pay them a dime (beyond the transaction fee), you're extremely valuable to them just as "another satisfied customer".

              • You can often escape credit card payment/processing surcharges by paying in cash. Have you never been in a store where the clerk told you that paying by credit card would cost 1 or 2 dollars more?
                • by mattack2 (1165421)

                  In the US, it is against the law to charge more for credit card use. They can give a cash discount, however. Yes, you may say that that is equivalent, but it means that either the posted price (e.g. for comparison) is the credit card price, or both prices are posted (e.g. gas stations).

      • The rewards don't hurt the banks. They hurt the merchants you redeem them at. They are the ones that take the hit, not the card company/bank.

        • I'd really like to know how that works, but even if you're right it still doesn't pertain. I use my rewards to pay my credit card bill; I won't claim that Cap One isn't still making money off the exchange fees, but the rewards money comes right out of their pocket.

      • And of course that is the reason why if I pay with iDeal (dutch bank system) I don't have to pay the transaction fee that I have to pay when I use a credit card.

        Not all companies do this, most just add the transaction costs to the price. But those companies that operate in more then one country clearly show just how expensive credit cards are and it is YOU that ends up paying it.

        Oh and what is the monthly, yearly cost for your credit card? Mine is 10 euro's per year and I can pay in any shop and online with

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Though that $10 really doesn't seem like much, since I know of one card where you get enough for a $50 rebate right off the bat when getting the card. Yes, I know that this says that he was only "in the market for new plastic" in this case.. But I doubt there are a bunch of different credit card companies willing to do this.

  • Everything is for sale..

    Let's all wait for the general population to whore themselves out further.

  • is way less profitable than selling your body.
  • How can you even begin to see this as effective market research? Your sample has ulterior motives. They'll answer whatever gets them the money.

    Do I even have to ask why affiliate marketing schemes are on front page of slashdot?

  • The company does not even list a Chief Information Security Office (CISO) listed among their upper level management. How can they claim to respect privacy and security when their senior level technology management expertise lies in making online maps?
  • I wonder how long before ID theft get's applied to make money this way...
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I wonder how long before ID theft get's applied to make money this way...

      I wonder how long until "fake ID creation" will be wide-spread.

  • How is this any different from the billion other survey sites on the internet (Rewards Central for example) that pay you to do surveys or polls and then give you a small payment for it?
    • by YoshiDan (1834392)

      That pay you to do surveys or polls and then give you a small payment for it

      Geez that made sense... I need more coffee...

    • It's better because it's honest. The survey people are selling your info left and right and you have no say in whom gets it.

      • by YoshiDan (1834392)
        Every survey site I've ever been a member of claims to provide their client that they are doing the research for with anonymous data only. It's nothing new at all.
  • I'm really not interested in this until I can pull a Chicago attack on it. In other words, create lots of fake identities and get $reward*$fakes.

    Of course, it'd be highly illegal unless I could find some kind of loophole. So, for all intents and purposes (heheh) I'm not interested.

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