Invasions of Privacy
Hackers get all the hoopla, but there are more subtle forms of invasive intrusions via the Internet that are of greater potential threat to your personal freedoms than hacker attacks and identity theft.
They usually start out with benign intent, but every useful tool can be turned awry. A saw used to clear a plot of land becomes the weapon of choice for chainsaw murderers, a growing voter constituency. 😉
One such benign tool in the Internet world is targeted marketing. It is where advertisers gather personal information about you through your use of the Internet and then craft ads specifically targeted to products they think you might buy. Those ads start popping up everywhere you go.
Right now, that tool is being used for increasingly invasive and nefarious purposes.
Here are three examples from my own experience in the last few days…
Privacy and SSD Hard Drives
I know what you are thinking… “This guy actually reads CNBC?!!”. It’s pathetic, isn’t it? But that isn’t the point. The point is the yellow highlighted Newegg ad on the lower right.
I was researching last summer’s drought effects on gasoline prices this morning. 10% of all fuels in this country contain corn-based ethanol and this year’s corn crop was devastated by an estimated 50% loss. Gasoline uses up half of all U.S. corn production.
My son, and small business partner, and I were also discussing solid state disk (SSD) purchases to beef up OS speeds on a wickedly fast custom-built computer system. He is a smart guy… obviously didn’t get any of that from his father.
We were discussing possibilities via email yesterday. I’d made a choice and asked for his knowledgeable input. He emailed back three other possible choices.
Not to suggest he and I are anything like them – heaven forbid! – but, like the geeks, we buy hardware from Newegg. Newegg is the Amazon.com of computer hardware purchases. We research hardware pricing using Newegg.com too.
Here is the spooky part…
The three SSD drives in the Newegg ad above are the EXACT same three drives my son had suggested looking at in his email yesterday.
Coincidence? Don’t be naive. On the Internet, like in politics, there is no such thing as coincidence!
Privacy and Political Activism
Like a lot of folks, I like to listen to free music on the Internet while I work. It blocks out unwanted distractions like being asked to do real work.
I like Grooveshark.com for that. I got zillions of killer Net-based custom play lists I’ve honed razor sharp to my exacting tastes. I’m listening to Steppenwolf’s “Pusher Man” right now. I used to use Pandora.com, but don’t anymore.
Twice in the last week, two similar unsolicited email arrived from long-ago abandoned Pandora.com.
They could be dismissed as email noise pushing a political agenda except for one thing… the U.S. Representative suggested to contact just happens to represent the area code where I’m sitting right now. There are 435 U.S. Representatives in the United States Congress.
Coincidence? Don’t be naive. In politics, like on the Internet, there is no such thing as coincidence!
Privacy and General Annoyance
One photographer sometimes sends out a mystery image from anywhere in the world and then asks followers to identify it. Its a game. I liked one and wanted to photograph it, so tracked it down just once using Google™.
It turned out to be the spectacular chateau-like Biltmore Hotel in Ashville, North Carolina. It was built by old money zillionaire George Vanderbilt.
Now everywhere I go ads urging me to come stay at their fine establishment pop up.
If I could barter photographic services for a couple of nights it would be a kick in the pants to stay there.
Internet-based targeted marketing is a growing enterprise. Its everywhere. Its lifeblood is personal information about you collected off the Internet that is sold to advertisers to hawk their wares. But that data could be used for anything, like political activism.
The amount of highly personalized information about you scarfed off the Net is mind boggling. Your personal data is bought and sold like cattle for anyone’s intended purpose.
Google™, Facebook™ and Amazon™ are among the worst data collection offenders.
I have little use for Facebook. I’ve got a generic FB account only because relatives use it. I purposely put nothing about me on Facebook, up through and including my name. But FB can still steal my IP Address and know who my relatives are.
I do occasionally – GASP! – buy paper-bound books and other stuff off Amazon. I can’t live without Google, though.
There is no privacy left on the Internet. Beware! Orwell’s “Big Brother” has arrived!