Privacy Piracy

Define Internet privacy piracy as the unauthorized collection, analysis, and distribution of personal information by third parties for profit. My questions are: are the pirates taking over the Internet? Are they changing the architect of the Internet to favor themselves at our expense? Are they making it easier for government espionage?

In an article in the WSJ, it is claimed that ("don't be evil") Google has begun to aggressively cash in on its vast trove of data about Internet users. Google had feared a public backlash. "But the rapid emergence of scrappy rivals who track people's online activities and sell that data, along with Facebook Inc.'s growth, is forcing a shift." Also, according to Mr. Eric Schmidt, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Not exactly comforting words. (Note: See this article for a defense of Google from Wired Magazine.)

Also, from an LATimes Technology Blog post:
Apple Inc. is now collecting the "precise," "real-time geographic location" of its users' iPhones, iPads and computers.
In an updated version of its privacy policy, the company added a paragraph noting that once users agree, Apple and unspecified "partners and licensees" may collect and store user location data.
When users attempt to download apps or media from the iTunes store, they are prompted to agree to the new terms and conditions. Until they agree, they cannot download anything through the store.
The large Internet firms could introduce technologies that would make it EASY for users to protect their privacy. But will these firms do so? For example, Microsoft had the chance to redesign Internet Explorer to make it more privacy friendly. But evidently did not.

In future posts, I would like to discuss approaches the average software geek can take to help protect online privacy.

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