Big Retail Is Watching You: Exposing Walmart’s Massive Data Collection Schemes

Retail / eCom | Sectors   |   
Published November 30, 2013   |   
Lauren McCauley

Outside of its growing reputation for poverty wages, worker intimidation and an overall culture of employee repression, a new report released Wednesday reveals that retail giant Walmart is also throwing its weight behind a massive consumer tracking effort with particular implications for people of color.

Authored by a coalition of consumer rights and social justice groups, the reportConsumers, Big Data and Online Tracking in the Retail Industry: A Case Study of Walmart (pdf), examines many of the ways in which large retailers—with a particular focus on Walmart—collect consumer data through mobile devices and online activity and use that information to “tease out meaningful patterns,” as noted by a November 2011 Walmart blog post.

The report notes that people of color and other marginalized and low-income communities are being disproportionately affected by such data collection since studies have shown they are less likely than wealthier consumers to protect their data or avoid the marketing ploys which target them.

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