SNAP Online Buying Program

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SNAP Online Buying Program
Short Title Program Helping SNAP Participants Buy Groceries Online Is Doing Profiling
Location United States
Date July 2020

Taxonomy Decisional Interference, Surveillance
Information Location, Computer Device, Preference, Behavioral
Threat Actors United States Departement of Agriculture, Amazon, Dash’s Market, FreshDirect, Hy-Vee, Safeway, ShopRite, Walmart, Wright’s Market

Affected Participants of SNAP
High Risk Groups Disabled people, Ethnic Minority
Secondary Consequences

USDA's SNAP program appeared to be doing granular data profiling designed to influence groceries choices of participants in favor of unhealthy products.


A pilot program designed to enable the tens of millions of Americans who participate in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to buy groceries online was found to be exposing them to a loss of their privacy through “increased data collection and surveillance”.

Online grocers and retailers use an orchestrated array of digital techniques—including granular data profiling, predictive analytics, geolocation tracking, personalized online coupons, AI and machine learning Surveillance — to promote unhealthy products, trigger impulsive purchases, and increase overall spending at check-out.Decisional Interference

USDA launched its e-commerce pilot in 2019 with an initial set of 8 retailers approved for participation: Amazon, Dash’s Market, FreshDirect, Hy-Vee, Safeway, ShopRite, Walmart and Wright’s Market.

SNAP participants include low-income communities, communities of color, the disabled, and families living in rural areas.

While these practices affect all consumers engaged in online shopping, they pose greater threats to individuals and families already facing hardship.

Risk Statistics

Laws and Regulations