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https://www.wsj.com/articles/square-sends-millions-of-digita...


With access to years of data on the purchase activity of hundreds of millions of unique credit and debit cards across millions of small businesses, Square has a window into spending patterns that few other tech companies can match. By supplementing that data with contact details that shoppers provide to Square for the purpose of getting digital receipts, the company is able to assemble expansive profiles of consumer behavior that it can use to run marketing and loyalty programs for its small-business customers.

But misfires happen: Square has forwarded receipts documenting transactions as mundane as a cup of coffee and as sensitive as an obstetrician’s visit to people who were uninvolved in the purchases, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In some cases, neither the purchaser nor the recipient could say why Square sent receipts to the people it did.

At issue are the methods that tech companies employ to make money off of the financial data of their users, as well as the degree to which those companies disclose or get consent from their users about those efforts. Data on individuals’ credit-card transactions can be particularly delicate and more revealing than their social-media posts or web-browsing activity. The Journal reported last year that Facebook Inc. requested detailed information from large U.S. banks about their customers as part of an effort to offer new services to users, but that data privacy emerged as a sticking point.
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