The Washington Post has a story about Web sites that we’ve discussed before, Blippy and Swipely, which let people broadcast online what they buy with credit cards, debit cards or through accounts with retailers such as Amazon. Blippy recently faced criticism from privacy advocates and others when it was forced to fix a technical problem that exposed some users’ personal financial data on Google. The Post reports:
The founders of [Blippy] and rival site Swipely say the purpose is to reveal the stories behind America’s stuff and explore how much our purchases reflect our personalities. Are we Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, Target or Wal-Mart, Payless or Prada? […]
But privacy advocates say that users are divulging a dangerous level of personal financial information — Blippy has reported one security breach — and that the sites could become a gold mine for marketers seeking detailed data on potential customers. […]
Members can give Blippy access to their credit and debit card accounts as well as 15 other online accounts, such as iTunes, Netflix or Amazon. The site compiles a history of purchases, some dating back several years, and automatically records new ones. Members can choose which purchases to make public on their profiles, but the site’s default setting is to share them all with the world. […]
For now, the sites say they want to establish a following and worry about making money later — and that concerns privacy advocates: Users are relinquishing personal information without knowing how it might be used in the future.