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Privacy Your Rights Online

What MSN, Google, Yahoo and AOL Know About You 169

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the know-me-better-than-i-know-myself dept.
hotgist writes "America's top four Internet companies, Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft's MSN, promise they will protect the personal information of people who use their online services to search, shop and socialize. But a close read of their privacy policies reveals as much exposure as protection. The massive amounts of data these companies collect, which can include records of the searches you make, the health problems you research and the investments you monitor, can be requested by government investigators and subpoenaed by your legal adversaries. But this same information is generally not available to you."
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What MSN, Google, Yahoo and AOL Know About You

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  • Cum on, sue me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:17AM (#18676037) Homepage Journal
    Ok, if I can't find out what records they are keeping about me, but legal adversaries can, someone please sue me and then subpeona them for me.
    BTW, TFA appears to have gone though a buggy porn filter. It has words like "cir*****stantial" and "do*****ents"
    • by Otter Escaping North (945051) <otter@escaping@north.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:19AM (#18676061) Journal

      Ok, if I can't find out what records they are keeping about me, but legal adversaries can, someone please sue me and then subpeona them for me.

      Try downloading some music - I hear that works pretty good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by networkBoy (774728)
      I like the open/close quotes disparity ``" :-)
      Yeah, we need to get a subpoena ring together. I'll subpoena your records, you subpoena mine...
      There needs to be a code of honor though, else I'm in for some trouble.
      -nB
    • Re:Cum on, sue me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:27AM (#18676243) Journal
      BTW, TFA appears to have gone though a buggy porn filter. It has words like "cir*****stantial" and "do*****ents"

      Yet "child pornography" and "sex partners" had no problem. Fascinating priorities for words to censor by a porn filter, there.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by tritonman (998572)
      What we really need to focus on is how much information Jesus has about us. How does he get this information, and what exactly does he plan on doing with it?!?!?
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Let's be chauvinist again !
      In France we have a law called Informatique et Libertés which basically states that any file where records exist allowing to recognize a person, must be declared to the CNIL, a public comitee (this is only notification, you don't have to require authorization). It also states that before submitting information to these files, consumers must be informed of their right to consult, correct or erase the data about them.
  • surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hobo sapiens (893427) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:20AM (#18676077) Journal
    yawn...nothing you do online is private. The real problem here is that people *think* they cannot be seen.

    TFA made an interesting point, though...searches are as close to reading our thoughts as is possible. That is pretty scary. I'll bet there's all kinds of predictive software that could use that search data to profile us, even anticipate our next move. That's pretty scary.
    • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:34AM (#18676381)
      yawn...nothing you do online is private. The real problem here is that people *think* they cannot be seen.

      Ceiling google is watching you masturbate?
    • Yes, but is it pretty scary?
    • Re:surprised (Score:5, Informative)

      by blueZhift (652272) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:38AM (#18676457) Homepage Journal
      Absolutely! There is no such thing as anonymous on the net. So the real solution is not going to be getting Yahoo, AOL, or whoever to stop collecting data. They never will because it makes them too much money. The real "solution" is spreading the word to users that they are not anonymous and behave accordingly.

      BTW, the Chicago Police already use an Oracle based data mining system to produce crime forecasts for the city that they use to decide how to deploy forces from day to day. I first learned about this system years ago, so it may be safe to assume that there have been improvements since that time. The future is now.
      • >Oracle based data mining system to produce crime forecasts for the city
        Is this liek a weather forecast?
        • by LordOfTheNoobs (949080) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @11:16AM (#18677073) Homepage
          It's a bit muggery out there today folks, with a thirteen percent chance of homicide over on 5th. So remember to don those kevlars. Back to you, Tom.
          • by blueZhift (652272)
            It's a bit muggery out there today folks, with a thirteen percent chance of homicide over on 5th. So remember to don those kevlars. Back to you, Tom.

            Actually, it was a little like this. It would show the probabilities of various types of crimes in an area based on past data. So it was easy to see developing trends.
      • by iminplaya (723125)
        The future is now.

        The Future is fun
        The Future is fair
        You may have already won
        You may already be there [firesigntheatre.com]
      • by hackstraw (262471)
        BTW, the Chicago Police already use an Oracle based data mining system to produce crime forecasts for the city that they use to decide how to deploy forces from day to day.

        And now for our 5 day forcast:

        Wednesday, overcast with a slight chance of a mugging.
        Thursday, mostly clear with a chance of a small time drug deal in the afternoon.
        Friday, partly cloudy, then rain likely in the afternoon. Chance of prostitution 95 percent.
        Saturday, mostly cloudy with showers likely. Chance of prostitution 99 percent.
        Sun
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      ...searches are as close to reading our thoughts as is possible.

      I knew you were going to say that!

      • now that you mention it, I just have to...

        obligatory Simpson's quote:
        "I know you can read my thoughts, boy! meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow..."
    • by ozbird (127571) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @04:21PM (#18682127)
      TFA made an interesting point, though...searches are as close to reading our thoughts as is possible.

      So mess with their heads. For example, go to MSN's search page and enter: Microsoft Vista class action lawsuit...
  • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:20AM (#18676081) Homepage
    If you're logged in and you have it enabled, you can have Google tell you all of your search history. I disable that and generally block cookies from being stored by Google. I sometimes, depending on what I'm searching for, use inurl:nph-proxy.pl and find a random open proxy to search through or use a public facility like a SurfThing enabled coffee shop or library.

    If my legal adversaries want to find out that I searched converting 3.5 tablespoons to teaspoons while cooking on Saturday, good for them. The rest of it is protected.

    Now, what the general public does (like the moron that got busted for searching for how to commit undetectable murder and then poisoning her husband) is another story. No matter what, there will always be idiots that don't know how to cover their tracks regardless of the "privacy policy" of third parties.
    • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:23AM (#18676143)
      If my legal adversaries want to find out that I searched converting 3.5 tablespoons to teaspoons while cooking on Saturday, good for them.

      Except when they list also includes "fertilizer" or "ammonia" and some guys end up locking you up and throwing away the room.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:30AM (#18676313)
      Do you really think that Google doesn't keep track of your past searches, just because you disabled it?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)
        I think it adds at least one step for a snoop trying to put me and my searches together(one with direct access to the various databases that is).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mwvdlee (775178)
      3.5 tablespoons of crack? I guess "teaspoon" is slang for syringe?
      I wonder what kind of searches you want to keep private!
    • If my legal adversaries want to find out that I searched converting 3.5 tablespoons to teaspoons while cooking on Saturday, good for them. The rest of it is protected.

      Which brings up an interesting idea - fake search patterns. On the one hand, you could perform all sorts of irrelevant, meaningless searches to clutter up your search record. On the other hand, imagine you wanted to make it appear that someone was searching for certain information, information that might prove incriminating. Assuming you could somehow gain access to their computer(s), wouldn't it be possible to "plant" searches in a person's search history? How many people who use the major search engines every day know they are being tracked?

    • by Radon360 (951529)

      Now, what the general public does (like the moron that got busted for searching for how to commit undetectable murder and then poisoning her husband) is another story.

      FWIW, the way she was discovered was by the police rummaging through her browser history on her computer and discovering what she was searching for, not a supoena to Google, et al.

      So, as you put it, she was one of the morons because she didn't cover her tracks in her own computer, let alone worry about what she was leaving in Google's logs.

    • Only three sites came up....an "animusic" video clip....the website of a nearby community college....and a site entirely in what appeared to be German....the image was suppressed by my work computer (as were the other two), and I have no recollection of visiting such a site - particularly given that it's in a language I don't understand.

      A bit puzzling
  • by loafing_oaf (1054200) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:22AM (#18676103)

    Were things really much more private before the Internet as we know it today? You had to approach actual experts like doctors for any questions you had. That leaves a trail. And if you had checked out library books as research, I'm sure the government could trace those records as well, even before computerized systems. Technology simply makes the process shorter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And when the process is shorter, it increases the scope of abuses. Imagine if 1940s Germany had the ability to find all the jews? It's not so farfetched to beleive the US would ask google to run a find_all_arabs() function in the event of a second terrorist attack.
    • by lawpoop (604919) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:38AM (#18676455) Homepage Journal
      "You had to approach actual experts like doctors for any questions you had."

      Yes, but a doctor isn't allowed to blab to anybody about your medical problems. If somebody sues you, they aren't allowed to subpoena your medical records.
      • by asninn (1071320)
        Similarly, if you go to a library, unless you check out a book, reading it won't leave a record anywhere. Sure, someone (another patron or an employee) might *see* you reading it, but there is no objective, permanent record that says "on this date, that person looked for information on this and that topic".
      • by wuice (71668)
        Yes, but a doctor isn't allowed to blab to anybody about your medical problems. If somebody sues you, they aren't allowed to subpoena your medical records.

        Unless you happen to be the US Government post-Patriot Act (which is who I'm sure people are most concerned are the ones spying on them anyway). Plus, the true privacy of your medical records are not as locked down as you might think they are.
  • by skoaldipper (752281) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .8rtslaoks.> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:24AM (#18676153)
    You can find out more about me by rummaging through my trash can - quite legal too. Just make sure you get it off my lawn first, or say hello to my boomstick.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgatliff (311583)
      Yes but you cannot datamine a trashcan over several years without a considerable amount of effort. Meaning, there is an inherent cost in digging thru millions of peoples trashcans, including probably getting shot by some for intruding on their property. From a search engine companies perspective, there is no inherent cost of gathering this data. It is simply an benefit of their business model.

      To me this is a failure of congress once again. In no way should they have allowed companies to keep this inform
  • diversify (Score:4, Informative)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:26AM (#18676221)
    This is why I use different services for different things. While I absolutely love gmail, I don't use it for my primary webmail account. Instead, I use Yahoo! (though I hate those ads at the bottom of messages). This is because I use Google as my search engine of choice. And for messaging, I use AIM. I don't want companies to be able to attach seemingly disparate portions of my life together into a single profile. Sure, it can still be done, but diversifying makes things that much more difficult.
  • The Aol "accident", government trying to subpoena search results, etc. Big companies whose source of income is to store and analyze massive amounts of personal preferences to sell targeted advertisements effectively store and analyze personal data. This article is a complete waste of time, don't bother reading it.
  • by I)_MaLaClYpSe_(I (447961) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:30AM (#18676295)
    Copy the code below and bookmark it as if it was an ordinary url. Then, when you visit google the next time, anon your google.


    javascript:x='Nothing';y='preferences';try{if(conf irm('OK: Zero it\n\nCancel: Do_'+x+'_(e.g._already_zeroes?)\n\n'+unescape(docu ment.cookie.replace(/;/g,'\n'))))h=location.host.m atch(/\.google\.((off|com?)(\...)|..|com)$/)[0];do cument.cookie='PREF=ID=0000000000000000:LD=en:TM=1 115409441:LM=1129104254:S=kSuablMgN8pP9-91;expires =Sun, 17-Jan-2038 19:14:07 GMT;domain='+h;location='/'+y+'';alert('Zeroed:\n\ nNow_reset_your\n'+y+'\n\n')}catch(e){alert(x+'_do ne\n\n(e.g._not_Google?)\n\n')}void(0)


    Or else, google for GoogleAnon :-)

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:32AM (#18676353) Journal
    Most people just dont care. People carry frequent shopper cards for their regular grocery store. Tagged to a real name, not some pseudo handle, tagged to a real address. And they fill their prescriptions there too. All for what? 25cents off a loaf of bread. Even on line people just dont seem to care. The kind of information people post in Facebook and other places, the amount of information they reveal in their blog, using real name that any prospective employer can search for...

    They (my nephews and nieces) look at me as though I am an brontosauraus wearing Sanjaya's fauxhawk when I talk to them about the dangers of "overexposure" (both literally and figuratively) in the internet.

    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:36AM (#18676429) Journal
      I picked my frequent shopper card up out of the parking lot in front of the grocery store, so while it is attached to a real name and address, god alone knows whose.

      • by defy god (822637)

        You know, I used to do the same thing. I used some randomly found grocery shopper cards or ask for one but never fill out the info paper. After reading more about those cards, I realized it was pointless because of my payment patterns.

        I don't like carrying more than $40 in my wallet. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I pay using my debit or credit card. I'm also a sucker for the 5% cash back credit card when paying for gas or groceries. That's probably all I use the card for, but 5% is still a big chu

    • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:46AM (#18676593)
      Actually, I tend to save a couple of dollars every trip to the grocery store with it, and if the grocer knows my grocery habits, I really don't care. I'll spend time and energy protecting info that NEEDS protection, like bank account numbers and credit card numbers, not my preference for whole wheat bread over white or rye. If I don't want a particular purchase "remembered," I don't use the card and pay cash. There's a concern for privacy, and there's paranoia.

      I'll agree with you though as far as Facebook/MySpace type sites go...before you post it on a web site, ask yourself this: Would you post it on a billboard along the freeway? Ask that, because that is exactly where it is going--on a billboard along the "Information Superhighway."
      • You do realize that you are not actually "saving money" right? As far as the ntire system goes, using it is a wash at best. The 2$ you save on one item is taken back on the others being higher priced than they should be.

        If you DON'T use the card its more like you are being ripped off severely! So at best you are trading privacy for being screwed at the register.

        One common tactic I've noticed on items I buy every week is that when they want to raise the price on somethihing they raise the pricer severely (li
        • If you want to shop without a card, buy your groceries at Wal*Mart (awful cheapo store), Whole Foods Market or Gelson's (both high-priced, upscale stores).

          It's interesting that you can escape cards by going to the bottom of the market and the very top, but the mass market middle seems to love cards.

          Unfortunately, where I live there is only one really nice grocery market, the Giant Eagle Market District (NOT Giant Eagle without the Market District), and it acts as you suggest - you need the card to avoid awf
      • by grishnav (522003)
        The good news is, when the store chains and the insurance companies hook up, you'll "save" another couple of bucks for preferring wheat bread over rye...

        /but not as much as the guy who picks something even healthier.
      • My grocer already knows my order when he sees me coming. Not that he gets them then for me. He already has gotten them ready because he knows when I arrive.

        Invasion of privacy OR bloody good service I happily pay his slighly higher then average prices for?

        God I love corner stores.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fatmonkeyboy (257833)
      If you're using anything but cash to pay at the grocery store, they can already store all of this information about you.

      You swipe your credit/debit card and there's nothing to stop the store from recording your name along with everything you purchased in a database. Your address may not be on the card's magnetic strip (but I wouldn't be surprised if it were). My billing ZIP code has been checked at the register before, so its either on the card or (more likely) can be retrieved and/or checked by the softwar
      • by evilviper (135110)

        So, unless you're paying with cash, you might as well reap the benefits of the frequent shopper card. I know I will :)

        Shopper cards are the prisoner's dilemma of supermarkets. If few people use them, they get the benefits, at everyone's expense. Now that EVERYONE uses them, prices have to be higher to cover the cost of running the program to begin with. Hell, the whole point of such cards is to discover what tricks work, in convincing you to buy higher-profit products.

        The myth of "savings" cards have bee

    • "wearing Sanjaya's fauxhawk"

      My god! I know what he's talking about, I'm doomed!!

  • Additional Problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:33AM (#18676357)
    There are other online data problems besides the main computer companies. You also have to worry about companies like USSearch, PrivateEye, and so on which basically allows anyone to find out tons of stuff about you for a nominal fee. USSearch's FAQ even says

    "Can you search for minors or public figures?

    No. In order to protect the identities and safety of minors and public figures, US Search does not provide searches for these types of individuals."

    So, they understand the danger. They just don't care about the danger posed to the "proles".
  • Look, I know that we don't have to use these services, but that doesn't make this sort of policy any less dangerous to the public in general. The Bush Administration will not be the last time we will hear about data retention policies [codemonkeyramblings.com], and if these services keep maintaining such detailed records, it's only a matter of time before the government gets full access to them. The privacy implications for that are that it'll be the first major step toward a total surveillance state for modern communications. A fir
  • by physicsboy500 (645835) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:35AM (#18676403)

    I hoped they purged my request to find "the clitoris" on google maps

  • Is it linked by just cookie or also the mac? I would assume that most routers/firewalls mask the mac address, so is the cookie reference the only link?
  • Well I do not find this surprising. You should just use the Internet and associated products with the assumption of no privacy. If you do not have this assumption, you should read every line of the privacy policies. Even then make the assumption you are not safe. Mistakes and screw up happens. Hackers happen. "0day happens." Even if that information is "protected" it might still get out anyway. Assume they are collecting *.

    They're all probably collecting tons of stuff, but I for one will not use G
  • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:47AM (#18676603) Homepage
    I'd be interested to know if this information is covered by the DPA for UK residents. Does search data count as personal information if the data is linked to an IP address rather than directly linked to my identity?

    If it is then presumably I should be able to make a request under the DPA (without a court order) and they would be required by law to provide me with all information they have pertaining to me for a nominal fee within a certain time-period (I forget exactly how long).

    Clearly IANAL and I don't know nearly enough about the DPA or international law to know if this applies. Any actual lawyers about there who can clear this up?
  • I'd be surprised if MSN knows anything about me, given that I never use MSN for anything. I only have one friend who uses MSN, so it's never been worth abandoning my principles and signing up.

    People who use MSN are the kind of people who refer to their web browser as "the Internet".
  • Say we accept our overlords as benign. Well a "useful" feature is clearly personalised search/news based on search history or email contents etc. This has been in beta in Google for some time. However what if in a workplace with a colleague looking over my shoulder I search for some innocuous term & it starts offering pornsites (which it knows being a single slashdottian I like) ? Problem is we all have secrets, closed areas ... if we use Google as our primary www interface & it works well then it's
    • I was in the process of refinishing my basement. It had existing cinder-block walls that I chose to leave partially bare along with conventional sheetrock walls which I added. So, not being clear if the same Latex based interior paint would adhere equally well to both types of walls, I googled for "Latex Bondage"

      I got a lot of unrelated hits......
  • by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:51AM (#18676671)
    Does anyone have any information on whether or not Track-Me-Not (which runs random searches against the big engines at random intervals) helps to confuse the trackers or not?

    sPh
  • A way out (Score:2, Funny)

    by Yurka (468420)
    There are precedents for suing yourself [theregister.co.uk], so the door is open a crack. Actually, no matter what the TFA implies, I imagine that search history wouldn't be the most interesting piece of information you could find about yourself, if you arm yourself with a good subpoena against yourself.
  • What works for me.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mulvane (692631)
    I have a VPN tunnel to a hosted dedicated server I setup as a proxy to my home connection. All my home traffic first passes through it encrypted. I share this box out to a few people. To establish connection with the proxy requires secure vpn. At home, I have 2 firefox items in my menu. One for my casual browsing, and another that connects to the proxy and request it to even anonymous communication even further using tor. This, plus not saving cookies beyond session helps me feel at least a little more secu
    • I don't have an ISP.... well, mostly; I have a business T1 link from AT&T (nothing remotely as good or better around here), but I'm under no illusions that AT&T won't still keep track of stuff.

      Maybe they don't, but I have to assume that they do.

      I'd assume that your dedicated server has the same sort of issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812)
        I have a business T1 link from AT&T ..., but I'm under no illusions that AT&T won't still keep track of stuff.

        Maybe they don't, but I have to assume that they do.


        One of the bits of advice from very early in the history of the Net is: Forget about network-level security; the only way to prevent unknown others from copying and analyzing your traffic is to do end-to-end encryption. Even then, they can learn some things by analyzing your packet headers, which can't be encrypted. And, of course, the
  • I don't see what the big deal is here. Everyone should just use Google. They said they don't do any evil, so they must not.
  • (Can't get to the article at the moment.)

    I should have the right to receive, for free, a copy of any information a company has about me. It should be the same as with my credit report. By law (in the U.S.) you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year. I don't see why this concept can't be extended to ALL personally-identifiable data. For example, look at the way Google allows people to see their own search history. A law is needed, a "freedom of information" act, if you will, except th

  • I think its wrong on the part of big search/email engines to log information about its user. For example whenever I use gmail and suppose I am writing an email to my sister asking how she is after her hernia operation, next time when I enter gmail I see all these ads on its interface about medicines/solutions for hernia. This clearly states that all this information is logged somewhere. Seems like we all need to be careful about what we typein our emails. I like how the physical world functions. If I go to
  • You can mostly protect yourself from this if you use Google and a few simple tips:

    1. If you have a Google account, make sure to disable search history and clear your previous searches. Also only login when necessary, not for general surfing.
    2. If you get use Firefox get the CustomizeGoogle [customizegoogle.com] extension, it allows you to disable Google click tracking and also the Google Cookie (along with a bunch of other nice options like ad removal).

    This still won't protect you from your local browser history on your c
    • by dimeglio (456244)
      I didn't read TFA and INAL but could you not simply write a registered letter to Yahoo, AOL, Google, et al. to inform them that you now refuse their license agreement and that you are cancelling your account? You can also then request in that letter that any information about you, stored searches, IP address records, etc be completely and permanently erased from all media, including but not limited to tape backups, off-site storage, etc... Once it's sent, it should protect you from any exposure as part of
  • It is time to trademark all the things about you that make yourself unique. Then, they cannot buy or sell your info without your expressed permission, which you don't do,

    My identity is not for sale, thank you very much. My personal details, aren't for sale, thank you very much.
  • by Slaryn (986308)

    ...records of the searches you make, the health problems you research and the investments you monitor, can be requested by government investigators and subpoenaed by your legal adversaries. But this same information is generally not available to you.
    Erm, what? I'm pretty sure that what health problems I've researched or investments I've monitored are available to me, since I was the one that did them.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      You know what searches you have made, but you do not know what information about those searches are made available to others.

      In other words, you don't know what others know about you.
  • by kippers (809056)
    If you live in the UK, then it *is* legally available to you under the Data Protection Act 1998 (for a maximum of £10). Under s.7(1).(a)(b)(c), they are required to give you a access to "the information constituting any personal data of which that individual is the data subject" (s.7(1).(c)(i)).

    Go ahead and try.
  • Crap! You mean they can subpoena Blizzard and find out that I'm the one who slaughtered all those Shadethicket Stone Movers and Bark Rippers near Fallen Sky Lake on Sunday night?
  • The next question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @12:40PM (#18678601) Homepage Journal
    Everyone concentrates so much on which services are collecting information and what information they are collecting. The next, and more important, question is rightly,"What are they doing with it?" I'm not talking about the generalized vague notion that everyone has: they're selling it. Yes, of course, but to whom are they selling it? Do they portion it out or do they sell the entire database in raw csv format any time anyone asks? Is there a subscription service to receive weekly or monthly updates to the dataset? Is there any effort made to screen the people who offer to buy the dataset to ensure that they will similarly protect the privacy and security of the consumers represented within it? Are there services which will cross-reference the various databases to infer data which cannot be directly collected for legal or technical reasons? Are there services which buy these datasets which offer to correlate them with tax records, grocery card clubs, and DMV records?

    The answer to all of the above questions, of course, is "yes--to the worst extent possible and with absolutely no conscientious consideration for the consumer from whom the data is being mined". Take it for what it's worth. Twenty years ago the hospital kept records, the insurance companies kept records, the banks and retail outlets kept records, but they weren't so ready and apt to cross compile and sell those records to hundreds of political and fringe religious groups posing under infinitely ambiguous names such as International Financial Consultants, Ltd.
  • by MooseTick (895855) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @01:31PM (#18679515) Homepage
    It wouldn't be too hard to create a script to randomly search on 5000 different terms a day from a dictionary. Then it would be nearly impossible to see that you were searching for actual info or an automated script did the searching.
  • Once upon a time, I wondered in print why no activist virus writer had yet created a virus that simply watches for Windows dialog boxes that look like license agreements and then automatically simulates pressing the "I Agree" button. If widespread enough, this would render the legality of such "buy before you agree" licenses moot.

    Here is yet another candidate for activist virus writers: a virus that secretly submits searches and performs browses to "spam" the spying that ISPs do on their customers. It c

  • Fixed Link [google.com]

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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