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Your data running Naked on The Net



4:34 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month


The U.S. Justice Dept.'s demand for data on how Web surfers use Google and other search engines raises a disturbing question: Just how much do the Web sites you visit know about you? In general, they know a great deal about the aggregate behavior of visitors, and nothing about individuals unless they have chosen to identify themselves. But there are exceptions


6:41 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think that most of these concerns are publicly disclosed in the privacy policy; its just that no one really thinks about how the data can be used.

Another concern is that of data mining. I would imagine it would be relatively easily to collect all sorts of information (via a bot) on MySpace on its personal users, ditto for LinkedIn and other networking sites.

Another missed point is how much we publicly publish about ourselves. For example, using your real name to make posts on blogs or elsewhere should not be taken lightly.

I know of folks who cross-linked between their blog, flickr and from there a quick search reveals his personal web site and LinkedIn account. You could quickly find out where he works, who are his friends, where he traveled, his political views...and cross check this with MySpace and so forth.

Indeed, I've been guilty of doing some of that, but I've learned to be more careful of what I say and how I say it.


2:51 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Undoubtedly a government inquiry is for information they donít have available. It could be for security purposes or even criminal investigations of individuals. Whatís even more frightening and disturbing though is who the government thinks has this information more readily available than themselves. In other words the government turns to what it feels is the snoopiest element of society to get information. The ones it feels may be routinely invading your privacy. Geez, who would ever think it might be the major search engines.

Is it protect us from to much government, or to much Google?


3:35 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yeah, there are real concerns raised in that article. You can disallow cookies except for a few for-session sites like G (preferences), and I suppose a dynamic IP helps slightly, but if Babylon really wants to, they can spy on anyone's entire internet activity, long after the fact (well, soon at least).

It's always been like that though - even 10,000 years ago, the local Shaman was asking others what you were talking about. The Roman emperors were experts at it, the Borgias, the Inquisition... even my sister is an incredible snoop. I wish the whole bunch of them would just mind their own business.

There's probably no solution, eh? You just have to keep in mind that you always have someone looking over your shoulder, and conduct yourself accordingly.


4:26 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The last post reminded me of a quote I saw somewhere, can't remember where now:

'Conscience is the little voice inside your head that tells you that someone, somewhere, might be watching.'


1:53 am on Feb 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Personally I'm at risk because I started surfing and sharing and chatting on the net before these things seemed like a concern. Now I'm careful entering personal information anywhere, and I have a suite of aliases to somewhat protect my privacy. But there are old, old pages out there floating freely on the www that contain the not-so-guarded ramblings of a much-younger me. If anyone here wanted to find out my exact mailing address, where I went to school, the date I got married, and a list of the last 10 things I bought on eBay... it would only take 10 minutes on Google to pull those pieces together.

The Internet never forgets.


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