Clive Robinson September 4, 2019 9:56 AM

As I don’t read the WashPo or get access to it a little ferkling with DuckDuckGo got the authors name and a similar (may be the same) article from another website.

In that article was the interesting comment by the author of,

    Amazon also wouldn’t say exactly what it receives [from Chase]. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Two points arise from this,

Firstly did it get in the WashPo version?

Secondly, Amazon at best is a predatory company that pays next to nothing in taxes[1]. Why such an organisation gets access to purchase information where they are not involved is probably a shock to many, especially as they appear to use the information not only in apreditory manner to increase their sales, but also to raise revenue off of the information through fourth parties you have never heard of who are at best “Daya Brokers” who then sell info on again.

As Ross j. Anderson and colleagues at the UK Cambridge Computer labs, proved some years ago, you can not make such information sufficirntly anonymous to maintain privacy without totally destroying it’s usefullness as an income source.

Thus treat any claims data is anonymised as at best wishfull thinking that is in reality a well rehearsed lie.

[1] Pitifully below what it should be Amazon payments to the UK Treasury were anounced today,

Thus significant underpayment means larger proffits for Amazon whilst still significantly under cutting other retailers who not only pay to the UK Treasury but UK local Councils that pays for first responders as well as providing local jobs clearing up the mess Amazon makes.

Sancho_P September 4, 2019 10:38 AM

@Clive Robinson

To your first, yes, it’s there in the WaPo, too.

And I’d like to learn more about their data ”— in an anonymized form —”, too.
1) It doesn’t work when you have access to several data collections.
2) If it works, the data is useless.

I’m not concerned about tracking at Target or any other grocery.
What really bothers me are the consequences when they learn how fruitless it is.
Reactive power with real costs.
All this hype will collapse, so will the corresponding businesses (and “jobs”).

Sofakinbd September 4, 2019 11:01 AM

@Clive Robinson

The WaPo’s paywall is trivially easy to go around, at least in FireFox. Open the link in a private window, set reader only mode, refresh. The lock they use can’t obfuscate the article that refreshes in the reader mode. The private mode also means if they give you 1 free read or more a month you have unlimited.

  • Sofa

tds September 4, 2019 11:22 AM


“The WaPo’s paywall”

AFAIK when using iOS Safari, cookies and javascript off, from an IP address in the United States of Amnesia (“‘USA'”), text is readily available, too.

John September 4, 2019 2:04 PM

Cash is king for a reason.

I’d always assumed that banks made it trivial to opt out of any marketing because my bank does.

Clive Robinson September 4, 2019 2:20 PM

@ Sancho_P,

All this hype will collapse, so will the corresponding businesses (and “jobs”).

And with it certain big Silicon Valley Corps, unless they sufficiently diversify.

But when you look on the flip side, most of those programmers cutting in the privacy invasion in a vast number of websites will find their funding gone, and thus wage deflation in that area is to be expected.

But then there are all those involved woth the scams that are online advertising, who just look the other way whilst effectively stealing the advertisers money by various very questionable if not down right fraudulant tactics. Most people should have got the message by now that online advertising is less successfull than letterbox stuffing and realy does not work. Worse most people resent it, thus it builds up negative publicity for the advertiser.

My personal kick back is to have javascript etc off to stop the more egregious adds appearing, and if I do have to see an add due to some services such as U-Tube, I have a policy of never to use that advertiser (it’s because I regard “in yourface advertising” as been theft, not just of the resources I pay for but my life as well).

It’s said that “Marketing” is the largest industry in the world, even more so than any organised religion. Whilst most of what you might call traditional marketing has not changed much in the last half century, the advent ofvthe Internet has caused a feeding frenzy. And I guess you know there can only be so many sharks sustained in a pond after an initial “all jump in” bubble bursts…

I don’t know if you’ve read it but there is a book called “Burn Rate” about the first Dot Com bubble, and mentioned in there is Rupert “The bear faced liar” Murdoch’s daughter blowing mountains of cash and having to get daddy to buy her out of trouble amongst many other failures. The fact that no major newspaper has managed to go “On-Line” as profitably / user as print kind of tells you how deep the blood bath will be when it happens.

Untitled September 5, 2019 3:16 AM

@John: “Cash is king for a reason.”

Indeed. And just for that reason, every player in the game is working hard to incentivize electronic payments. In Europe, it’s now so easy to pay small amounts with a contactless card, and I hear that’s coming in the US too. All the phone makers now let you pay by waving your phone. All those transactions are eagerly recorded and tracked, of course.

Similarly, the banks are working to disincentivize cash payments, by making cash handling difficult and expensive, so that retailers discourage customers from using cash. For example, when I visited London I found that paying cash on the city’s transport network ( can cost more than double the contactless fare.

The government likes you to use your card, too – it makes surveillance so much easier.

Adrian September 5, 2019 7:42 AM

I’d always assumed that banks made it trivial to opt out of any marketing because my bank does.

I don’t think opting out of the marketing prevents the actual data collection. The surveillance goes on.

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