Big Box Is watching You

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Walmart has amassed a trove of personal data on 60 percent of adult Americans — possibly over 145 million people — according to estimates from a report released Tuesday.

The retailing giant collects information on what shoppers buy, where they live and what they like via in-store Wi-Fi, Walmart.com and other company apps, according to the report. The analysis was prepared by three pro-worker advocacy groups, The Center for Media Justice, ColorofChange.org and SumOfUs. Information on shoppers allows Walmart and more than 50 third-party sites to profile customers and infer things like relative age, income, gender and race in order to target people for specific products and deals, according to the report.

“This is part of a growing trend that leaves American consumers — particularly consumers of color and poor consumers — really vulnerable to violations of their online privacy,” said Malkia Cyril, the head of the Center for Media Justice, a left-leaning media rights advocacy group. In order to compile its figure, the report’s authors used a Walmart statement in which the company’s CEO said that 60 percent of Americans shop at the store each month. The authors then used U.S. adult population estimates, and assumed the company had information on all shoppers based on statements about Walmart data collection.

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