Inference For Profit: How Credit Card Companies Can Predict the Future - Page 2
In the article it also talks about not creeping out the recipient by hiding that they were targeted (ok I'll stop the punning), this is a whole other kettle of fish; making people think their decisions are a 'choice'. Not what I am here to talk about though.
So with enough data, inferences can be made about you. Not just about purchasing decisions, but about some very personal parts of your life. Yes the goal (at least in Target's case) is to make money and long-term money at that. The phrase that comes to mind is "mission creep". A large data company has not just data about you, but has started making inferences about you too, now that is valuable. My guess is that this practice is very large in the personal data world, but we only hear little snippets of it from time to time.
The other obvious area of the power of inference is national security and law enforcement, and I am sure it is being used widely, but the ethics of catching bad guys is less murky than trying to turn a profit.
Is all this so bad? Not necessarily, but mission creep often pops up in unexpected ways. Does your credit score change before you get divorced but after the credit card company thinks that it is on the cards?