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Tracking consumers on the Internet and selling detailed profiles is a $400 million business expected to double this year. Advertisers have real-time access to whatever you’re doing on line. On this archived edition of To the Point, will new privacy laws be needed to restore consumers’ confidence? Is there any good news about this kind of intrusion? Also, the danger of alluring layaway plans and, the continuing saga of Guantánamo Bay.

Banner image: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Making News The Dangers of Alluring Layaway Plans 6 MIN, 34 SEC

book.jpgChristmas "layaway" plans go back to the Great Depression, when retail stores wanted to keep low-income shoppers. Credit cards put an end to all that but this year, "layaway" is being revived in a big way by Walmart, Sears, Toys "R" Us and many others. Louis Hyman is Professor of Labor Relations, Law and History at Cornell University. He's author of Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink.

Louis Hyman, Cornell University (@louishyma)

Debtor Nation

Louis Hyman

Main Topic Is There Such a Thing as Internet Privacy? 34 MIN, 45 SEC

Internet spying has become big business, "more pervasive and far more intrusive" than all but a few people know. That's from an extensive study by the Wall Street Journal, which reports that companies track users in real time so they can advertise instantly. They can learn all about you — not just your shopping interests, but your financial and medical conditions — even what you're telling your friends on social networks. Are there benefits for consumers?  What are the prospects for abuse?  Is there any way to opt out?  Would new government rules make a difference?

Scott Thurm, Wall Street Journal
Jules Polonetsky, Future of Privacy Forum (@JulesPolonetsky)
Adam Lehman, Lotame Solutions (@AdamL)
Justin Brookman, Center for Democracy and Technology (@JustinBrookman)

Reporter's Notebook Annual Cost of Keeping One Prisoner at Guantanamo 8 MIN, 5 SEC

In January the military prison at Guantánamo Bay will be ten years old.  About 171 prisoners remain from the 779 who've been housed there. The operating costs are $140 million a year, and the Obama Administration claims that's $800,000 per inmate. Barack Obama's first order as President was to shut down Guantánamo. Congress said no, and the Pentagon is planning for the next 10 years of operation. That's according to Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, who's been reporting on the prison since the first inmates arrived there.

Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald (@carolrosenberg)

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