As an European citizenship first and as a individual second, I couldn’t help to be surprised when on Saturday night, as many other nights, I went to bed with last’s week issue of The Economist . I was reading this article “A count that counts” about USA’s census for this year and I reacted on how clearly they speak about the fact that companies will use census results for marketing purposes.
Half way through the article I had to ask myself: What was the initial purpose of the census?? Oh yes to count folks to distribute seats in the Congress, I answered myself. But seriously, I had to think hard because I was so very astonished to read things like this (directly quoted from the article):
-“But the census results also constitute the country’s biggest and most complete market-research survey, and are therefore invaluable to business.”
-“The census this year will ask households to say how many people live there, and to report their race, sex, age, and whether they own or rent. The data on population will help firms decide where to open stores and distribution centres. The other questions provide a profile of consumers in each area, and so help managers pick what products to stock in shops, among other things. “We use census data every day to make business decisions,” says Joan Naymark, director of research and planning at Target, a big retailer. “The 2010 census is incredibly important to us.” The results of the 2000 census prompted Target to offer more hair products for African-Americans and children’s books in Spanish, for example, in its stores in Washington, DC.”
-“The recession has made them reluctant to expand without good market data, ]…[, yet it has also caused them to cut back on research, making the free census data all the more vital.”
And last sentence:
-“No wonder, then, that the Census Bureau has around 47,000 active corporate “partners” helping promote the census to their customers and employees—more than double the number in 2000. Their efforts come on top of the bureau’s own marketing campaign, which is likely to cost over $300m, and the enthusiastic support of local authorities, which are keen to promote participation and thus win more federal funding in future.”
Obviusly without a data privacy act as enforced as we have in Europe it is difficult to protect us from big corporations firstly as citizenships and secondly as individuals.