Reasons to be fearful?

Not so sweet? Nectar and Yahoo could be analysing your habits online and offline.

News that Yahoo has agreed a new advertising partnership with Nectar, the online loyalty programme for Sainsbury's supermarket and other brands, has once again sparked concern over privacy and the integrity of surfers' personal data.

Britain has been under pressure from the European Commission since last April to amend its laws around so-called behavioural advertising.

The furore surrounds the UK's green light for the controversial behavioural ad targeter Phorm, which monitors surfers' web clicks in order to better target adverts on partners' websites.

In the latest deal, Yahoo and Nectar will draw on the databases of both companies to offer targeted online advertising, bringing together online as well as "offline" data. The idea is to attract reticent bricks-and-mortar-type businesses to advertise on the web, by offering them more targeted ad opportunities and better feedback.

So, should we be worried? That the scheme is an "opt-in", and affects only people who are both Yahoo and Nectar users, should ensure its compliance with privacy laws.

The bigger worry, perhaps, are schemes which require an "opt-out", such as early trials of Phorm's technology. Though strides have been made in this area, you need to fill in a series of forms to be sure you are opted out of certain companies' behavioural advertising schemes.

As well as the privacy concerns, behavioural advertising can lead to disconcerting assumptions. It was noticed last year that users of in Germany who bought a particular aluminium baseball bat were also likely to want leather gloves, a balaclava and a can of pepper spray.

Jason Stamper is NS technology correspondent and editor of Computer Business Review.

Jason Stamper is editor of Computer Business Review

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.