LP Magazine

MAY-JUN 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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ACADEMIC VIEWPOINT Think about all the questions you get asked to verify that you are you when trying to log into your bank or credit card account. Things like birthday, place of birth, mother's maiden name, favorite sport, first car—all this info is likely right in your Facebook profile and timeline, down to your favorite vacation spot and where you met your spouse. FUTURE OF LP By Tom Meehan, CFI Meehan is the chief strategy officer and chief information security officer for CONTROLTEK. Previously he was director of technology and investigations with Bloomingdale's, where he was responsible for physical security, investigations, systems, and data analytics. He currently serves as the chair of the Loss Prevention Research Council's innovations working group. Prior to his thirteen-year tenure at Bloomingdale's, he worked for Home Depot in loss prevention, and has had various technology, loss prevention, and operational roles at several other companies. He can be reached at tom.meehan@controltekusa.com. We Gave Up Privacy for Convenience Years Ago T he only surprising thing about Facebook's recent privacy fiasco is that anyone was actually surprised. Those of us who use social media and other free online services traded our privacy for convenience sometime in the early 2000s. How many of us are there? Out of 330 million Americans walking this Earth, 218 million are Facebook users. The remaining third of the country, while not on Facebook, is on one of the myriad other free sites that are not really free. It should be said that those calling for the boycott of Facebook are ignoring the fact that this company is neither the first nor the only one that collects personal information about its users for marketing purposes. In 1985, Prodigy and AOL became the first publicly available online service providers. Google was founded in 1998, Myspace in 2003, and Facebook in 2004. I recall in 1996 when Juno's online service was founded, they were one of the first to offer free online access and email. In less than a decade, almost all online services became free. I recall my younger self wondering how could they be free. The answer was, of course, that they weren't—it's just that we did not pay with cash but with our data to be used to pitch us products and services. When It's Free, You're the Product Internet advertising was still largely unknown when the first dot-com crash occurred, leaving a high degree of uncertainty around Internet marketing. I, like many others at the time, didn't have a full understanding of what Juno was doing with my info. I really didn't think much of it—their service was free, and it worked. Of course, now I know that this was my first experience of giving up privacy for convenience. I do wish to underline that I used all the services mentioned, and I am not suggesting people should stop. With this article I just hope to provide a bit more insight into how this tradeoff between privacy and convenience occurred and continues to occur. Google came in the late '90s, and from the start it was an advertising and data company. Google spent a lot of time mastering the indexing of the web, making it easy to search. At the same time, they became very good at sort of indexing their own users. Even early on, Google was able to tell where and how a product or service would sell. Every time someone searched for something, Google became one data point smarter. When Gmail came out as the first free, full-featured email service, its success was guaranteed. By that time, we all should have learned that nothing was free. Our privacy was the cost. Google and Gmail use our search information and look for keywords or phrases in what we type, be it in the search box or in the emails we send. No human is reading our emails, of course—it's an algorithm that looks for certain things. If, for example, you search for cell phone services and then email your significant other about it, Google takes that metadata and stores it. Then if a cell phone company wants to advertise, Google matches them to you. This can be as simple as a banner on a web site you visit or as advanced as changing the order of your search results. From my perspective, this is helpful. If you use Google's Personal Assistant, it can tell you how to get to the airport 48 MAY–JUNE 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM

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