They’ll be watching you (and your kibble purchases)

King County (Seattle) uses grocery loyalty card data to figure out who owns pets, according to a new report from local station KOMO. It then sends them letters warning of a $250 fine if they do not license the animals. The “county said they pay the company who pays stores such as Safeway …for access to customer data contained in every one of those reward card swipes.” And “the mailers work. Just last year they brought in more than $100,000 in new pet licenses.”

But remember, government needs access to Big Data to fight terrorism. [cross-posted from Cato at Liberty]


  • […] Walter Olson comes the tale of the Seattle government using data purchased from third party vendors to threaten […]

  • I am waiting for the “human” application of this. For example, say you have high cholesterol. Will there now be mandatory checks (by your health care provider) to make sure you DO NOT buy fatty meats and/or cheese?

  • Can’t really tell of the new story is accurate, but it appears that the company which gathers data for Safeway is, in turn, selling it to the government (and perhaps others).
    Safeway claims that they don’t know about this sale of their customers’ information.
    Wait for the other shoe to drop.

  • Walter, is this grounds for a class action lawsuit that you’d be in favor of? 🙂