Friday, July 30, 2010

Where Everybody Knows Your Name. . . .

It's called the internet.

From the WSJ:

The largest U.S. websites are installing new and intrusive consumer-tracking technologies on the computers of people visiting their sites—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time—a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.
. . . . .

To measure the sensitivity of the data gathered by tracking companies, the Journal created an "exposure index" for the top 50 sites. ranked highest in exposing users to potentially aggressive surveillance: It installed 168 tracking tools that didn't let users decline to be tracked, and 121 tools that, according to their privacy statements, don't rule out collecting financial or health data. attributed the number of tools to its use of many different ad networks, each of which puts tools on its site.

Some of the tracking files identified by the Journal were so detailed that they verged on being anonymous in name only. They enabled data-gathering companies to build personal profiles that could include age, gender, race, zip code, income, marital status and health concerns, along with recent purchases and favorite TV shows and movies.

Too late for me to get all worried about it, of course. Anyone living such a pathetic, boring life that my age, sex, race and favourite movie became a matter of absorbing interest could find it all out fairly easily from The Inn. And all without investing in expensive tracking software.