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    Buffalo News: Growth of data mining is latest threat to privacy

    The Buffalo News reports on the issue of privacy and the mining of consumer information (also called datamining):

    When you Google “anti-acne remedies,” send a Tweet, sign up for Farmville on Facebook or use Yelp to find the nearest sushi restaurant, you open a digital window into your life.

    Those services collect and store reams of this personal data from millions of users, creating a potential gold mine for the companies and advertisers.

    But can we trust them to protect our privacy? […]

    Facebook, Google and Twitter have come under fire in recent months from consumers and privacy advocates, who contend the companies have compromised personal data or made it harder for users to secure. The privacy breaches are prompting members of Congress and federal officials to consider stricter rules to protect our personal data. […]

    With the growth in GPS technology and mobile devices, users of services such as Foursquare now can reveal their movements to friends, strangers — and savvy criminals. These locational services are leading to personalized ads that speak to you from TV screens and coupons that pop up on your mobile device as you walk into a restaurant or store.

    But skeptics warn that consumers should weigh how much personal information they give up to get a coupon for a latte. […]

    The information that users post on their profiles can reveal more than they intended.

    Two Massachusetts Institute of Technology students developed a software program that predicted with a high degree of accuracy whether a Facebook member was a gay man, a project dubbed “Gaydar,” the Boston Globe reported.

    And Carnegie Mellon University scientists used social-networking sites to accurately predict the full, nine-digit Social Security numbers for 8.5 percent of the people born in this country between 1988 and 2003, according to the school.

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