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Earth The Almighty Buck Science

MasterCard Transactions To Be Mined For CO2 Data 124

Posted by timothy
from the strip-mined-with-acid-I-hope dept.
seamus1abshere writes "In the latest twist from Big Data, MasterCard and Brighter Planet today announced that cardholder transaction data will be mined for clues about CO2 emissions. Initial coverage will be of flights, car rentals, hotels and other purchases for which the credit card company stores extra metadata. Interestingly, the science behind the offering is all open source."
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MasterCard Transactions To Be Mined For CO2 Data

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  • Oh, sure. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Let's give the greentards access to private financial data. What could possibly go wrong?
    • That's gonna shut the green privacy activists up!

      Are there also any fossil-energy-loving privacy activists? Nuclear privacy activists perhaps? We depend on you now!

    • by guruevi (827432) <eviNO@SPAMsmokingcube.be> on Friday May 13, 2011 @08:00AM (#36116986) Homepage

      Don't worry, the anonymized it by removing your name and address. All they use as an identifier is that random 16-digit number on your card. They have to keep the expiration date as well so they can properly put their data on a time line.

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        thank God they're only using that plus the three little numbers on the back as a kind of checksum
      • by ikeman32 (1333971)

        Don't worry, the anonymized it by removing your name and address. All they use as an identifier is that random 16-digit number on your card. They have to keep the expiration date as well so they can properly put their data on a time line.

        As some one that processes credit card transactions on a daily basis, I know for a fact that all you need to run a credit card at a terminal is the 16 digit number, 15 if it's american express, and the four digit expiration date. The terminal never asks for the card holder's name and only rarely askes for the three digit security code on the back of the card. All they need to complete their pointless and meaningless study is a transaction date and number, and maybe the transaction amount. There is absolutel

    • Mastercard has been giving aggregate data back to its member banks for at least 20 years. This is just another set of aggregate data, but given to corporate card holders. Even if they gave card numbers, names, and addresses, it's only going back to the owners of the cards.

      I worked with Mastercard's data warehouse for 5 years. So if anyone has any questions about what *really* goes on there I might be able to answer (although I can only speculate about this particular program).

      • by NevarMore (248971)

        So whats the typical process for getting data like this? What data do the internal people have access to? What data is filtered out before being given to the requester?

        • Re:Oh, sure. (Score:5, Informative)

          by truthsearch (249536) on Friday May 13, 2011 @09:52AM (#36117922) Homepage Journal

          The short answer is that data is somewhat compartmentalized by department. Each CC transaction first comes through the mainframes, which are very restricted, mostly just for IT. That data is fed nightly to the data warehouse (basically one massive database). A lot of IT get direct access as needed. Some business / reporting applications are then written to query directly from it, limited to the departments that would require it. Any department which needs aggregate data has separate database servers, with data warehouse IT staff facilitating the automatic feed and aggregation of the data.

          Requests for data from outside the company are taken case-by-case. So, for example, when I had to write reports for a particular bank (a Mastercard member), I was careful to only pull that bank's data. I didn't filter anything that was specific to their cardholders. For applications which got aggregate data, individual transactions and CC-specific data was never sent to the application's database servers. It was carefully aggregated first at the warehouse, then transmitted. I have to say there wasn't much general oversight, but it's simply enforced by management throughout the company.

  • So... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So the crazy loons are pulling the same stunt spammers do.

    Thank you, assholes. Oh, wait. Thank you, crazy assholes.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Speaking of spammers (yes i know bad segue but damned if i can think of anywhere to ask this) has anybody else noticed that those "porntube" style sites have figured out how to get your Yahoo address book from your browser somehow?

      I have a customer that loves those porntube style sites and I keep getting these weird spams from him that consist of a single web link that has obviously been generated at random. since I had just cleaned his machine and knew it was good I asked him WTF was going on and he swore

      • by thijsh (910751)
        When you are logged in or have auto-login enabled for Yahoo it is more likely some smart XSS exploit that loads Yahoo in a hidden IFRAME and posts the address book to their servers by means of the XSS payload. Typically this works with all mayor browsers and does not require your address book to be stored locally or your memory to be read directly.
        • In this case it would be a CSRF [wikipedia.org] attack.

          • by thijsh (910751)
            A CSRF can perform an unwanted action, but to post content back to the attacker another method needs to be used (the attacker might request the contact list in the IFRAME but will have a hard time to read it since modern browsers prohibit this). When the attacker has the ability to execute arbitrary JavaScript by means of a XSS exploit this becomes much easier, so this would basically be a CSRF with a XSS to get the result from the request forgery.
            • by Qzukk (229616)

              A CSRF can perform an unwanted action

              You mean an action like yahoo.com /send.php?subj=look+at+my+porn&body=porn+porn+porn&contact[]=Ok&contact[]=Ok&contact[]=Ok&contact[]=Ok&contact[]=Ok...

              I wouldn't be surprised if someone wrote a "send to contacts" page that worked exactly like that, without checking to see if a request was via POST or GET.

      • I think this would make a nice "Ask Slashdot" question. It's a very interesting question and can maybe be easily answered (JavaScript Drive-By attack or something). But I think one possible explanation is our good old friend flash.

        It could also be that this is not directly related with the sites, but rather a rogue advertiser.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          If you can tell me how to post it I'm all ears, as I made a journal entry but damned if I can find a button to add it to ask /. Man I hate this new layout! Oh and I tried this with and without NoScript, with and without private browsing, it doesn't seem to work on GMail or LiveMail but seems to work on Yahoo mail no matter WHAT the user does! I even used CCleaner to clean the machine first, no dice!

          I'm starting to wonder if the new yahoo mail beta isn't storing the address book unencrypted on the machine

  • Kewl... Oh, wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pitterpatter (1397479) on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:21AM (#36115492) Journal
    While I would dearly love to have Al Gore's data from this enterprise, I'm not so sanguine about him having mine.
    • The science is open source. But the raw data has been "lost"...
      • by superwiz (655733)
        But not to worry, any "wrong" conclusions will discarded as a result of "lack of programming skills."
    • by pnot (96038) on Friday May 13, 2011 @03:43AM (#36115970)

      While I would dearly love to have Al Gore's data from this enterprise, I'm not so sanguine about him having mine.

      As I'm sure you noticed from R'ingTFA, this programme basically involves some extra annotation on a system Mastercard's been running since 2002 allowing corporate clients to analyse spending on their cards. So yes, if you're working for Al Gore and spending his money on your company card, he will (shock horror) be entitled to data-mine your transactions for anything he damn well pleases. Get over it: you don't have any expectation of privacy when you're spending company money on company business.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        As I'm sure you noticed from R'ingTFA, this programme basically involves some extra annotation on a system Mastercard's been running since 2002 allowing corporate clients to analyse spending on their cards. So yes, if you're working for Al Gore and spending his money on your company card, he will (shock horror) be entitled to data-mine your transactions for anything he damn well pleases. Get over it: you don't have any expectation of privacy when you're spending company money on company business.

        Are you ser

      • So you're trying to tell me, that just because I'm using a company credit card, that means that when I hire hookers to entertain clients, my boss must be allowed to watch them have sex?

        That would totally ruin our ability to attract clients.

      • As I'm sure you noticed from R'ingTFA

        +1 Funny

  • Matching products (Score:5, Insightful)

    by improfane (855034) * on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:36AM (#36115538) Journal

    I imagine that the most important piece of information regarding the transaction is the supplier and a transaction number. The amount is worthless. How would you match an amount to a product, especially if more than one product is purchased? Many customers pay different amounts for the same product, how will they factor this in? They'd have to ask the supplier what was actually purchased with some kind of order number.

    Some services are bought but not redeemed later in the future such as a flight or a cruise ship. They need to work out when a servie is actually utilised.

    Somehow I think they'd be better of analysing public transport systems. Such as buses, trains, planes and traffic. If 10 people buy a bus ticket, the bus will expel the same amount of CO2 than if the bus was full. Same with trains, they are quite often under capacity.

    • by Kim0 (106623)

      How would you match an amount to a product, especially if more than one product is purchased? Many customers pay different amounts for the same product, how will they factor this in?

      I use least square matrix methods for this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is the benefit of doing this? I'm pretty sure we can calculate how much CO2 is emitted by various activities without invading people's privacy.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Mashiki (184564)

      Because according to the cult of global warming, you have no privacy. They're doing this for *your* best interest.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pnot (96038) on Friday May 13, 2011 @04:35AM (#36116134)

        Because according to the cult of global warming, you have no privacy. They're doing this for *your* best interest.

        I find the psychology interesting here. Companies have tracked spending on corporate credit cards since forever; after all, it's their money you're spending, not yours, and they don't want you to spend it on booze and hookers. I don't remember ever hearing anyone complain about the principle of this. But as soon as Mastercard start to offer carbon emissions analysis to their corporate customers -- because 80% of those customers wanted it -- we have a dozen outraged comments about "invasion of privacy" and "the cult of global warming".

        Just try this: storm into the accounts dept. and tell them you're not going to submit receipts for travel reimbursement, because it's none of their damned business whether you rented a hummer or took the train, and if they say otherwise they're members of the cult of global warming. Maybe you could get the ACLU to take on your case.

        • Companies have tracked spending on corporate credit cards since forever; after all, it's their money you're spending, not yours, and they don't want you to spend it on booze and hookers.

          Those are just two of the many reasons I'm my own boss.

          • Companies have tracked spending on corporate credit cards since forever; after all, it's their money you're spending, not yours, and they don't want you to spend it on booze and hookers.

            "Entertainment Expense"

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Or maybe it's the fact that I live in a part of the world where I have the right to privacy, not the exception to privacy. Amazing what happens in a world when your right's are infringed. So yes, the reality that they're trying to tie things to an unproven science in order to create a fake market for the evils of carbon, really does lead to them doing it for your best interest. You have no rights in doing what you want.

    • What is the benefit of doing this? I'm pretty sure we can calculate how much CO2 is emitted by various activities without invading people's privacy.

      They're just following Kennedy's suggestion: "Don't ask 'why', ask instead 'why not?'". The 'why not?' would also be merely rhetorical, not needing an answer. After all, everyone else seems to be getting away with it, so there cannot be any valid reasons not to do the same...

  • How much computing power will be used to mine all of this data? How much energy will be spent on this project? How much CO2 will be released as a result?
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:58AM (#36115636)

      This is the most idiotic and trollish response that always gets thrown about. Expending energy to figure out how to save energy can easily be a net positive. I'm sure automotive engineers expelled a great deal of energy designing cars that get 30+ miles to the gallon instead of 15. Electrical engineers spent energy designing LED lighting that is far more efficient than incandescent. But you aren't thinking about that, nor are you thinking at all. You're just trolling, because you've been trained to hate anyone who suggests that CO2 can have a negative impact on the climate.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Psychotria (953670)

        This is the most idiotic and trollish response that always gets thrown about. Expending energy to figure out how to save energy can easily be a net positive. I'm sure automotive engineers expelled a great deal of energy designing cars that get 30+ miles to the gallon instead of 15. Electrical engineers spent energy designing LED lighting that is far more efficient than incandescent. But you aren't thinking about that, nor are you thinking at all. You're just trolling, because you've been trained to hate anyone who suggests that CO2 can have a negative impact on the climate.

        No the parent is not trolling. "How much energy will be spent tracking this" is a perfectly valid question. If I spend x+10 energy on monitoring to save x+1 energy then that's a problem. It's a bit like saying that electric trains are "cleaner" than diesel trains. They're not. The pollution (or expenditure of energy) is just transferred to somewhere else.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by artor3 (1344997)

          But the parent doesn't care about the answer, and you know it. He's just JAQ'ing off, as all good trolls do. Ask a seemingly reasonable question with the implication that the answer is a bad thing.

          Tell me, do you really think that the computing power used to mine this data would offset even a single trip by private jet?

        • by Americano (920576)

          Actually, electric trains are, as a rule, "cleaner" than diesel trains. A giant power plant generally operates at much higher efficiencies (generally ~2x the efficiency of a typical car motor, if I recall correctly) than your automobile engine - less fuel is consumed to produce the same amount of energy, which means less pollution is emitted.

          The giant power plants also have the option to generate some or all of their capacity from "clean" (or at least, "cleaner") sources. Diesel engines are... diesel engi

          • by greed (112493)

            It depends a lot on your electricity supply.

            Sure, in the U.S. with a lot of coal power, electric can be pretty dirty.

            But in Quebec, with 95% hydroelectric, advertising that "you'll reduce CO2 emissions by switching to these CFLs" is an outright lie. Diesel is guaranteed "dirtier" than electricity.

            Similarly, Ontario has typically no more than 1/3 of its generating capacity from combustible fuels (fossil and bio). It's usually closer to 1/4; so even if the diesel train and the station-to-rails efficiencies

      • I'm going to call you a name because you disagree with me.

        The troll calling the troll green.

        I haven't been trained to hate anyone who suggests that CO2 can have a negative impact on the climate I just hate hypocrites.
        Take your own advice to reduce your CO2 emissions by stop breathing so much (at all) please.

        I'm going to go driving around in my truck and look for an endangered animal to kick.

  • science is per definition open soource:

    Wikipedia: knowledge in the form of testable explanations

    if it is not independently testable, it is not science!

    • science is per definition open source.

      You haven't been looking at the U.S. Patent System lately, have you?

      • by kenh (9056)

        I think the person that wrote this summary meant to say "the applications behind this is all open source" - referring to the computer programs employed, not the "science" - how long before MasterCard offers to automatically calculate and sell you indulgences (carbon credits) as soon as you purchase the 'offensive' item (airplane ticket, fuel, etc.)?

    • if it is not independently testable, it is not science!

      Good point. The problem is that we're talking about global warming.

      • by superwiz (655733)
        One time events (like weather measurements) are not independently testable by definition. You can still do fact finding without a full scientific process. It just needs a different review process. Peer reviewed fact finding only works if you have reproducible results. One-time events have to reviewed through an adversarial review rather than peer review.
    • by ArcherB (796902)

      if it is not independently testable, it is not science!

      The big bang, string theory, evolution, the curvature of space/time, global warming/climate change, various theories proposed by relativity, etc are not all independently testable. Are they not science?

      (Please do not troll with some test that produces evidence for one of above theories. For example, the only way to independently test the big bang would be to recreate the universe. Using an atom smasher to create a model doesn't cut it.)

      Fact is that not everything in science is "independently testable", y

      • (Please do not troll with some test that produces evidence for one of above theories. For example, the only way to independently test the big bang would be to recreate the universe. Using an atom smasher to create a model doesn't cut it.)

        Glad you see it that way and agree with the OP. All the data for global warming is exactly that: a model.

        And it is subject to Garbage In, Garbage Out.

        See here: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/04/07/climate-models-go-cold/ [financialpost.com]

        for the explanation why the models have been so

      • by kubitus (927806)
        so science theoreticians and philosophers - go on with your work and define science either

        anew

        or we may have to learn a little bit from this fellow:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper [wikipedia.org]

        who introduced a good measure of common sense into the philosophical debate on knowledge and science:

        "we trust a theory we can not proof to be wrong or limited

        until we or somebody else shows us that it is:"

        wrong

        limited

        or completely misunderstood

        .

        but still the question remains: is a theory nobody could cont

  • As usual... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:47AM (#36115584)

    Summary written by a troll.

    Press release is about business services. They are releasing a service to help business track their travel expenditures. RTFA if you want the real story.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Friday May 13, 2011 @01:49AM (#36115598)

    Is it just me or is the text on most comments cut off to the top half? I tried with Firefox, Chrome, and IE and it's the same with all of them...

    • I'm seeing the same thing, or not seeing as the case may be. If the comment isn't expanded it's not all there
    • by perpenso (1613749)

      Is it just me or is the text on most comments cut off to the top half? I tried with Firefox, Chrome, and IE and it's the same with all of them...

      Oh no, its not just you. And Safari on Macs are doing it too.

      I expect a .css file will be reverted shortly.

      • Is it just me or is the text on most comments cut off to the top half? I tried with Firefox, Chrome, and IE and it's the same with all of them...

        Oh no, its not just you. And Safari on Macs are doing it too.
        I expect a .css file will be reverted shortly.

        And Opera (Windows + Linux). Actually, every browser I've used today and yesterday at home (Linux) or work (Windows) has had the crappy cropped text. And being logged in or not on Slashdot makes no difference.

      • The slashdot code writers have caught the "Web 2.0 client side technologies" craze, and are driven to making the UI ever more bloated and useless with each passing day.
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      It's been like this all day. Apparently Slashdot has moved to the "users == testers" school of software design.

    • Looks fine to me. Firefox 4.0.1 under Natty Narwhal.
      • Huh. Things are borked as-described, for me; and I'm using Firefox 4.0.1 using Maverick. But then again I am reading the Slashdots from Europe.

    • Just trying to save some CO2 emissions.
    • by mikestew (1483105)

      Mobile Safari, Safari on Mac, same result.

    • You said you dislike Web 2.0 so they cut it to half (1.0).
    • Is it just me or links aren't working either?
      Is /. really "for nerds"?

  • by bmo (77928)

    What's the carbon footprint of the Dragon dildo that Timothy bought?

    What could possibly go wrong?

    --
    BMO

  • A huge credit card company releasing information (I don't care what kind) to a third party? I hope their servers are decent and users follow protocol... Yeah, I hope.
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday May 13, 2011 @02:12AM (#36115684)

    FTFA: "a new program to help make travel carbon emissions analysis easier ... for the businesses worldwide that use MasterCard corporate cards ... to help businesses more efficiently manage their corporate card programs and meet current and future analytical needs"

    This is a program that companies can sign up for, in which Mastercard will help them analyze their corporate travel programs. Al Gore isn't digging through your receipts at the sex toy shop. Ignore all the Republican trolls.

    • by ArcherB (796902)

      FTFA: "a new program to help make travel carbon emissions analysis easier ... for the businesses worldwide that use MasterCard corporate cards ... to help businesses more efficiently manage their corporate card programs and meet current and future analytical needs"

      This is a program that companies can sign up for, in which Mastercard will help them analyze their corporate travel programs. Al Gore isn't digging through your receipts at the sex toy shop. Ignore all the Republican trolls.

      As a Libertarian/Republican, I have to agree with you somewhat. If MasterCard wants to offer a service their customers want, they are certainly welcome to do so. MasterCard is not a government agency. As long as data is kept private, they should be able to do whatever they want with the data. It's not like they don't have the data now. All they will be doing is a bit more data mining at the request of their customers. If I were a tree-hugging* company owner, I might be willing to pay for the data. (*

  • ... the science behind the offering is all open source.

    Well, what are they offering me? Jet engine exhaust? Vaporware?

  • I thought the gray text on gray background was bad enough, but now the text is divided in half horizontally and I only get to see the top half. What gives? Looks like this in Firefox and Chrome.
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      Yeah, they need to roll back a step to when they took all the whitespace out, but before they cut into the actual text.

  • by kenh (9056) on Friday May 13, 2011 @06:58AM (#36116622) Homepage Journal

    "the science behind the offering is all open source"

    The science of making up numbers and extrapolation?

    Science?

  • by Lumpy (12016)

    Glad I use my Discover card for buying tanks of CO2.

    And yes, I do. I brew beer at home (better than any of the store bought swill any of you drink, really it is. Try home brewing it's easy and produces a far superior beer) as well as keep huge planted tropical fish tanks.. the aquatic plants utterly thrive when I inject CO2 into the water.

  • Look, sitting here playing games with trying to figure out emissions will get us nowhere. Instead, put a sat up in space to measure CO2 IN and OUT of nations. Then have every nation put a tax on ALL GOODS based on emissions levels PER SQ KM basis. With such an approach, then each nation can decide where CO2 is coming from and more importantly, how to address it. This has the benefit that different locations have different contributions. For some, it is economic. For others, it is humans. Finally, for other
  • Make no mistake, boys and girls, this will be used as a way to impose a carbon tax on you, the individual, never mind attempting to carbon tax businesses.

  • Well, after airlines, Obama and Air force One, and Lady Gaga (talking of course), we do have things like Paintball guns, fire extinguishers, and ocean life (yes covering 75 percent of the planet. Phytoplankton (emit oxygen) Zooplankton (emit CO2), both greatly outnumber humans and are one of the main ingredients in CRUDE OIL (after being "processed" by the mantle after being swallows in to the subduction zones at the plate boundaries. so, our war on CO2 must begin with destroying all sea life. As the

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