Книга: Code 2.0

The Internet

The Internet

In Part I, I described the anonymity the Internet originally provided. But let’s be clear about something important: That relative anonymity of the “old days” is now effectively gone. Everywhere you go on the Internet, the fact that IP address xxx.xx x.xxx.xxx went there is recorded. Everywhere you go where you’ve allowed a cookie to be deposited, the fact that the machine carrying that cookie went there is recorded — as well as all the data associated with that cookie. They know you from your mouse droppings. And as businesses and advertisers work more closely together, the span of data that can be aggregated about you becomes endless.

Consider a hypothetical that is completely technically possible under the existing architectures of the Net. You go to a web page of a company you trust, and you give that company every bit of your private data — your name, address, social security number, favorite magazines and TV shows, etc. That company gives you a cookie. You then go to another site, one you don’t trust. You decide not to give that site any personal data. But there’s no way for you to know whether these companies are cooperating about the data they collect. Its perfectly possible they synchronize the cookies data they create. And thus, there’s no technical reason why once you’ve given your data once, it isn’t known by a wide range of sites that you visit.

In the section that follows, we’ll consider more extensively how we should think about privacy in any data I’ve affirmatively provided others, such as my name, address, or social security number. But for the moment, just focus upon the identity data they’ve collected as I move around in “public.” Unless you’ve taken extraordinary steps — installing privacy software on your computer, or disabling cookies, etc. — there’s no reason you should expect that the fact that you visited certain sites, or ran certain searches, isn’t knowable by someone. It is. The layers of technology designed to identify “the customer” have produced endless layers of data that can be traced back to you.

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