Invasion of Privacy

Entities unknown to you, without your consent, do not and should not have the right to harvest every scrap of data about your life that they can get their grubby fingers on and use it for their own nefarious purposes… well intentioned or not.

There are few things more treasured than personal privacy. Your privacy is under attack. Business, government and political parties are the paparazzi. They must be stopped.

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning in an unusual way… it showed up on a computer screen.

Smack dab in the middle of a list of Nancy Pelosi quotes there appeared a tiny Google™ ad:
Ted Cruz For US Senate“.

Why, you may ask, should I be concerned about such a trivial thing?

Who is Ted Cruz?

When I saw the ad the first thought that popped into my head was, “Who the heck is Ted Cruz?”. I’d never heard of him before today.

Folks in Texas probably know him. He is a Tea Party endorsed Republican running for the United States Senate in their fair state.

That is all well and good, except for this… I don’t live in Texas. I never have. I am not in Texas now. I live more than 1,000 miles away.

So why did Google target me with a political ad from a state I don’t live? That is the $64,000 question.

Why Texas?

The next question that came to mind was, “Why would Google think I might want to donate to a Texas Republican’s Senate campaign?”

Internet ads are not random. Targeted marketing is used. Somebody, without my consent, bought some tidbit of my personal information dredged up from somewhere, then sold it to the Ted Cruz election campaign so that they could use it to solicit donations from me through Google!

Google knows enough to track me down to my IP address. That is just like the front door of my house, only closer!

My only logical link to a Tea Party Texas Republican is this: on-line radio.

When on-line I often listen to radio station KFYO out of the West Texas town of Lubbock. It might not be the capital city of conservative thinking, but Lubbock has got to be near it.

KFYO is a very conservative, down-home radio talk show station. That is why I listen.

Supporting this hypothesis is a simple fact…
If one calculated my party affiliation based on Internet traffic alone, I’d be classified a progressive Democrat!!

Azleader: The On-line Democrat

It might surprise regular readers of this column to learn I’m officially registered as a campaign worker for President Obama’s re-election in the state where I do live. I registered on-line.

I semi-regularly attend local Democratic Party headquarter meetings. I’m on their email list. I go to my local U.S. House of Representative’s town hall meetings. He is a Democrat. I’m on his email list, too.

I do nothing with local or national Republicans.

I’ve been active with the local OWS Movement chapter. I’ve been to protests and marches, and am on their email list, too. I know the hand signals.

I’ve never been to a Tea Party protest nor active in it in any way.

I visit zillions of liberal news and information sites, but few conservative ones.

Among others, I’m on these liberal email lists:
Obama for America, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Move to Amend, The New York Times, Economist’s View

I recently added myself to Mitt Romney’s campaign email list to get his stuff.

My Google search activity is mostly liberal oriented. I rarely seek nor go to conservative places via Google searches.

Conclusions

I see ads on the Net every day specifically targeted to me personally. Some I like. Most I don’t.

Advertiser paid services are necessary. They are not inherently bad. Its how things get paid for. TV commercials, though annoying, are a necessary business practice. Somebody has to pay for all the programs we watch for “free”.

The same is true of the Internet. Someone has to pay for all the cool websites we use for “free”.

However, what’s happening on the Internet today is a quantum leap deep into your personal life. Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others are continuously amassing unimaginable amounts of personal data about everyone, everywhere. It’s stored into giant databases. Then it is bought, sold and re-sold over and over again to all willing to pay for it.

My computer screen inside my home is my personal space. A computer’s IP address is personally identifiable information. It identifies you. If known, anyone can find you.

Texan Ted Cruz knows where I live! It’s a long drive, but he could come to me asking for donations.
(Personally, if I could chose, I’d ask for Sarah Jessica Parker to come groveling at my door begging for a $40K donation)

It’s not just marketers… government, political parties – as I’ve just learned – and who knows who else are culling everything there is to know about you. Computers and the Internet are the game changers allowing it to be done easily at hyper-speeds.

You should own all electronically stored data collected about you, no matter who collects it. You should be given full access to that data at any time. Only under very narrowly defined exceptions, you should be able to opt-out of sharing your data without your specific consent… with the default sharing setting for data collectors set to “no”.

If things go as is, personal privacy and individual liberty are at great risk.

About these ads

About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Jul 2, 2012, in culture, Democratic Party, first amendment, Life, news, Opinion, Politics, Privacy, Republican Party. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. And all this time I thought it was only conservatives who were being watched. :-)

  2. The digital age has erased privacy. Assume you have none.

    If internet providers were savvy, they would sell a dynamically set different IP address for their customers each time they log on, so this crap would stop. When you used the old phone modem, the address was different each time. Broadband locks you to a static IP address, but it would seem some entrepreneur should step forth and sell broadband that conceals your IP address. The old phone modem approach protected you much better than our slicked up faster internet method these days.

  3. I find this kind of information collection very concerning. Although, I guess we can take consloation in the fact that such targeted ads are (at leaast for now) inaccurate and ineffective. As your example shows, marketing agancies can get it wrong, and they do so ALOT. Not only do these agencies fail to provide targeted ads that are accurate, consumers usually don’t click on ads in forums that use targeted ads. Facebook is a perfect example. It has been losing ad revenue as more companies have been canceling their Facebook ad campaigns, citing a lack of effectivness. This problem has become more widely know since Facebook went public.

    So for now be glad that the targeted ads demonstrate that even though companies may collect alot of information about you they still dont know you very well. And ultimately just dont click on the adds.

  4. My main concern isn’t that they “get it wrong” or “get it right”… my main concern is that they are collecting the information in the first place.

    Data collected for target marketing can just as easily be used for more nefarious purposes. That is what worries me.

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