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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
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.
Is it protect us from to much government, or to much Google?
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.
The Internet never forgets.