Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sears privacy gaffe

The brilliant Ben Edelman at Harvard has discovered that third parties can search Sears customers personal data via the web, in breach of the company's own privacy policy. Brian Krebbs at the Washington Post says:

"Sears is having a bit of a rough day with the privacy community. The company got off to a rocky start with revelations that many customers who gave Sears their personal details after shopping at the company's Web site also were giving away their online Web browsing habits to marketers, thanks to snooping software silently installed (and ill-documented) by a Sears marketing partner.

Now, it appears the company's Web site may also be making those shopping habits publicly searchable, at least as they relate to products purchased in Sears stores and/or via its Web site.

The discovery comes from Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and a privacy expert whose research has done much to raise public awareness about the intersection of big business and shady advertising practices."

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