Thursday, March 20, 2008

The new privacy invasion

And in yet more related news, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the pioneering developer of the World Wide Web, told the BBC he would switch Internet providers rather than have his usage monitored. He said:

I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that’s not going to get to my insurance company and I’m going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they’ve figured I’m looking at those books.

This is just the beginning of what is becoming a serious debate. There is a strong incentive for Internet providers to sell data for companies. Eventually, cellphone companies will start to face the same choice. If there is a G.P.S. unit in your phone, it will be able to keep track of what stores you visit, among many other things. How much would Honda pay to be able to send ads to people who’ve been in Toyota dealerships lately?

--Saul Hansell, NYT, on the coming privacy onslaught

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