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If you're a TiVo user, your digital video recorder may be ratting you out to advertisers.
In the latest example of consumer privacy being threatened by Big Data, TiVo's number-crunching subsidiary this week announced a partnership with media heavyweight Viacom that helps advertisers target TV viewers with specific commercials.
Think of it like this: A car company wants to reach men in their 20s. Viacom knows that younger guys like watching the spy cartoon "Archer" on Comedy Central. TiVo will now be able to say whether the commercial actually was seen by target viewers — and if any of them went on to buy the car.
"The Holy Grail of TV advertising has been to figure out who's watching and match it with their behavior," said James Dempsey, executive director of UC Berkeley's Center for Law & Technology. "This seems to do that."