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Tim Berners-Lee warns against third-party internet snooping

 12:27 am on Mar 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Web inventor warns against third-party internet snooping [guardian.co.uk]
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, today warned MPs and peers that they should not allow third parties, including commercial companies, to snoop on people's internet browsing. (...) the URLs [webpages] people use reveal a huge amount about their lives, loves, hates and fears. This is extremely sensitive information.



 11:44 am on Mar 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

"...the URLs [webpages] people use reveal a huge amount about their lives, loves, hates and fears. This is extremely sensitive information.

"People use the web in a crisis, when wondering whether they have a sexually transmitted disease, or cancer, when wondering if they are homosexual and whether to talk about it... to discuss political views."

Sad to say, but isn't this exactly why third parties wish to snoop?



 5:02 pm on Mar 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Syzygy, I don't think the search for scandals is the prime driver behind 99 percent of the snooping. Most of it is, "Who has money and what are the spending it on?" Some of this type of snooping is done by scam artists, but most of it is legit biz types looking for legit customer types.

But, as noted, snooping can do harm, sometimes even by well-meaning individuals or organizations who spook folks from getting the information they need on STDs or a political candidate.


 2:26 am on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Third party? Sort of like Google and their targeted browser ads that follow a browser from site to site?


 7:47 am on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Who has money and what are the spending it on?

That hits the nail on the head and I'd even add "and how can we get a bigger share of that".

It would be extremely naive to think that no data is being collected without authorization. Today it feels like it's "gather as much data as you can get away with" on the agenda. Keep in mind that as I say this i'm a little annoyed that Google was gathering visitor information without my knowing about it through my site. Being forcefully and without warning "opted in" to something I didn't know existed smacks of exactly what nobody wants to see happening.


 9:45 am on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

My comment reflects on the fact that, in my thinking, what TBL points out are just some of the areas in which snooping can be and is done. 'Scandal' has nothing to do with it: it really is 'Big Brother' plain and simple. Snooping is much more than commerce wanting to know your shopping habits, although that is more than enough, thank you very much.

Moving above the level of commerce, look at 'snooping' capabilities of inter-governmental stuff like Project Echelon, and the increasing legislation at national levels that enforce the keeping of records of your, and my, online activities and communications.

In some respects I fear that the depth's of Mr Orwell's nightmare scenario's have been far surpassed by modern day realities.

Posted by Anon.



 6:58 pm on Mar 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just read Syzygy's post and thought 'I've heard of Project Echelon somewhere, I think I will just Google it to find out more'. Then, automatically without even reolising that I think this way, I wondered: 'If I search for something sensitive like Project Echelon - will that be recorded somewhere by Google on my search record?' Who gets to check my search record (for all time)? These are increasingly overbearing times.

I just hope Sir Tim is heard.


 8:13 am on Mar 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree very much with the concerns raised in this article. In most of the cases the problem is that the use of the personal information is not declared clearly. Privacy policies and the treatment of personal information collected favours the business and its commercial exploitation.

There is nothing wrong with enforcing a right to the protection of ones private data. There is a big difference between how people view personal information in mainland Europe when compared to the US.

An issue at stake is more about WHAT businesses can do with the information they collect. This much, at the moment, is very very unclear in the most popular website's and social networks privacy policies. But it will eventually change. At the moment businesses are just trying to exploit and gather as much personal data as possible before a solution is found. Equally, users are using things like Communication Privacy Management theory to submit false information on forms and interactive modules, as a measure against protecting their own privacy.

The debate about this issue also ties into fundamental principles of the businesses ethics.

Time will tell.


 2:34 pm on Mar 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

with the way facebook is opening their user's profiles to advertisers for targeted campaigns and only see this activity increasing. a targeted ad for ring tones about my favorite rapper was the only ad i ever voluntarily clicked on a social platform.


 5:01 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is a good post i have too write this post in my view cisco practice

[edited by: engine at 6:14 pm (utc) on Mar. 20, 2009]
[edit reason] See TOS [/edit]


 5:15 pm on Mar 20, 2009 (gmt 0)


Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

[edited by: lawman at 12:03 am (utc) on Mar. 21, 2009]

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