ADAM TANNER

What Stays in Vegas exposes the greatest threat to privacy today. It’s not the NSA, but good-old American companies. Internet giants, leading retailers and other firms are gathering data behind the scenes with little oversight from anyone.

In Las Vegas, no company knows this mantra better than Caesars Entertainment. They hold an unrivaled asset: they are able to track the activities of the overwhelming majority of gamblers who walk in. They know exactly what games we like to play, what food we enjoy for breakfast, when we prefer to visit, who our favorite hostess might be and exactly how to keep us coming back for more.

Caesars have inspired companies from across industries to ramp up their own data mining in the hopes of boosting their targeted marketing efforts. Even if you have never set foot in a casino or signed up for an airline’s frequent flier program, companies little known to the public like Acxiom are gathering information on you at every turn. And there are others that will sell your dossier to anyone for cash.

The reality is that we live in an age where our personal information is harvested and aggregated whether we like it or not. And it is growing ever more difficult for those businesses that choose not engage in more intrusive data gathering to compete with those that do. Tanner’s timely warning resounds: yes, there are many benefits to the the free flow to all this data, but there is a dark side as well. With societal and legal boundaries on the use of personal data still largely undefined, the potential for abuse looms large. And, as to what in Vegas? The answer: almost nothing…