Maps, Inc., is the marketing research division of a large credit card company. The division specializes in the preparation of geo-demographic maps. To prepare these maps, it combines information from customers’ credit card transactions with the demographic data it collected when the customers applied for a credit card. Then, with its profiles of who is purchasing what, in combination with Census data on small geographic areas, Maps, Inc., is able to develop maps that display by zip code area the potential market for various types of products and services. The company in turn sells this information to various manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers after customizing the data to the geographic boundaries specified by the client.
1. Is it ethical to use credit card transaction information in this way?
2. Why or why not?
3. Do the credit card users have a right to know this research is being conducted?