When Big Data Goes Awry: This Is Worse Than the “Rape Sufferers” List

Yes, some scumbag marketing company really does distribute–for money–a mailing list of probable rape survivors. One might think you can’t get much lower than that, but that’s just demonstrating a lack of imagination (boldface mine):

An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company’s junk mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different.

It was addressed to “Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash.”

Strange as that sounds, the mail reached the right guy. Seay’s daughter Ashley, 17, was killed in a car crash with her boyfriend last year. OfficeMax somehow knew.

And in a world where bits of personal data are mined from customers and silently sold off and shuffled among corporations, Seay appears to be the victim of some marketing gone horribly wrong.

“I’m not a big OfficeMax customer. And I wouldn’t have gone there and said anything to anybody there about it [the car crash]. That’s not their business,” Seay, 46, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview Sunday.

In a statement, OfficeMax said the mailing “is a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider” and offered its apologies to Seay. A spokeswoman told The Times on Sunday that the company was still gathering information about what had happened…

“Why do they have that?” Seay said of the information about his daughter’s death. “What do they need that for? How she died, when she died? It’s not really personal, but looking at them, it is. That’s not something they would ever need.”

One would think that a company wouldn’t need a rape sufferers list either, but apparently there is a ‘need’ for such things. By all means, let’s turn more and more of our lives over to these bastards. I’m sure it will work out fine.

And for those keeping score at home, n now equals two…

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