Online Tracking

For years, I have been an advocate for online privacy. In fact, I have known about communications being monitored since the early 1980’s – years before the World Wide Web was created.

Tracking communications is not anything new – this has been done since the pony express, telegraph and carrier pigeon.

When it comes to privacy and security when browsing the internet, you would be surprised how much tracks you when surfing the world wide web.

The analogy I use is, imagine you are walking down the street – would you constantly be yelling, “hey, I’m over here! okay, I’m over here now! hey, I’m walking into this store!” No, you would not.

Does someone walk up to you, and say, “hey, I saw you in another store four blocks ago looking at shoes. We have fabulous shoes on sale right now.”

Would someone walk up to you, and say, “hey, I saw you at the flight centre this morning. Oh boy, do I have a deal on airline tickets for you.”
Imagine a person was paid a penny each time they did that.

You walk down the street tending to your business, and expect everything else to keep out of your business. As long as you are not breaking any local laws, what you do when out in the public is no one’s business.

This is my argument then – the internet should be the same way. Where I go online, what pages I visit, is no one’s business.

So why does the internet think it is their business to track my personal online business?

On the other hand, you might say, “I have nothing to hide. I don’t care what tracks me.” Okay, sure, be comfortable with that belief. But let me put this thought out there – have you ever heard of The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It is a concept that shows we are not more than six connections separated from anyone else.

With that in mind, are you aware of all the online data that is being scooped up by the truck load. Do you think humans look at that data? No. That data is analyzed by computer algorithms.

Does an algorithm care who you are? No. But, an algorithm makes connections when analyzing data looking for a mass murderer. Remember that six degrees of separation?

Still don’t believe me?

How about this – algorithms track words. For example, you are talking with a friend, and remark that you are now the president of your local Toastmasters. Oh, and last week, your son’s baseball team bombed. Tracking algorithms are programmed to flag particular words. Even though you used ‘president’ and ‘bomb’ in two seperate sentences not connected, an algorithm does not see that. A human would know the difference. But we rely on computer programs to analyze data faster than any person can.

So guess what, you may be flagged by some computer algorithm, your friend, and maybe four other people. Oh, and you probably posted this on Facebook. Now there is a face to the name. Better yet, you have tagged your friends in your photos. Great. The biometric trackers must love you.

By the way, did you ask to tag people in your photos? Would you give out someone’s phone number without asking them? Mmhm…

You are helping the tracking algorithms make the connections.

How many million people are on Facebook now? And what about that six degrees of separation again?

In the movie Eagle Eye, a computer intelligence tracked everyone in the U.S.A., determined threat levels, and even calculated when a crime might happen and by whom. There is such a program, similar to the movie, that analyzes data, and gives each bit of data a threat point. It is called BEWARE, and was recently presented in California. Is this program new? Not at all. But what this program does is something to be very concerned about.

License plate readers track your driving route. Where is that data stored? How long is that data stored? What data can be derived from your driving habits?

The world is tracking everything about you, and computer algorithms are calculating data about you.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: