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I’ve been using the pharmacy at my grocery store. When paying, they want to scan my rewards card — not because I’ll get a discount, but for “gas points” (this grocery store chain also has gas stations). I don’t think saving a couple of cents on a fill-up is worth giving up privacy around my prescription history. Do you? The thing is, the first few times, I just handed my card to them, unthinking. Actual hospitals and doctor’s offices have to follow very strict laws when it comes to releasing any information at all about a patient’s medical conditions and/or the treatments they have provided. Grocery stores, as far as I know, are not subject to those laws.

I’ve heard horror stories about grocery store rewards cards already, in fact. People in divorce cases whose access to their children was taken away because they were proven, via their grocery store rewards card records, to smoke cigarettes, or drink beer, or whatever. I don’t know if I believe these stories, but I also don’t know if I don’t.


It’s possibly all academic. The privacy cat may have already left the bag, in my case. I’ve been more open than most people about stuff. I mentioned on Facebook that I have psoriasis, and now I’m getting ads for some high-grade pharmaceutical to treat it (and weaken my own immune system and maybe kill me). I mentioned that my house had recently been broken into, and ads for LifeLock and ADT started sprouting out all over the place — not just on Facebook, but on most of the websites I visit. This post itself is an example of me living my life in public. That’s what I’ve done for years. I was an early adopter, you might say, of the social media lifestyle.

So maybe I should just hand that Kroger card over when I pick up my prescriptions. They’ve already got me trapped anyway in their web of data. I guess I should just relax and enjoy it. Right?