Archive for March 10th, 2008

Web trails


Today’s NYTimes has a series of stories and graphics that make me quite uneasy. I do wonder what They (meaning anybody out there, individual or corporate, private or government) can learn about me from my web activity, carried out from the safety of my own desk chair/couch/etc. I know They do want to know what I’m up to, so as to market Stuff to me more efficiently—highly targeted marketing is what They tell clients They provide.

Take the time to look at the graphics: 1) a simple bar graph of frequency of data collection at several domains at least several of which you probably visit regularly, including FOX, AOL, Yahoo, Google, Amazon, EBay, and Wikipedia (watch out!); 2) a table of the data behind the bar graph along with another pair of bar graphs that amplify all this; and 3) a blog discussion of the whole situation.

My conclusion: 1) make sure I have my doubleclick opt-out cookie in place; 2), regularly delete cookies; and, 3) assume strangers can see what I’m up to, maybe in considerable detail.

Which is what Eliot Spitzer apparently forgot. Well, maybe not about web tracking, but at least that a phone tap can reveal all. And that nobody’s immune to them in the good old US of A….