Privacy Law Does Not Protect You Online

There has been a great deal of commotion over a web site called Spokeo. Spokeo aggregates personal info about people. So all the info that’s in public records is combined with all the info you’ve put on the web about yourself, which is then viewable by other people.

Many people I know are freaked out about this. One person was shocked that her photos and blog posts were found. Seriously. There’s a lot of folks out there who are unclear on how all these cookies, logging, networking, and whatever else works.

Privacy Law Needs To Be Updated. Support

Notwithstanding obvious things like blogs, that we put up so other people can see, our privacy is being eroded fast.

For example, a recent Wall Street Journal article discussed how Ebay served ads to friends of the people that were buying things on Ebay. They used a separate company, one like Spokeo, to identify friends of the buyers and targeted ads at them. The assumption was that your friends probably like the same things you do. However, they did it without the knowledge of the buyers.

This should be illegal.

Not because targeting ads should be illegal, but because of other crazy shit companies or the government might do and are doing. Google’s Buzz service, when it was launched, let anyone viewing your social networking page see who you most frequently emailed with… again, without your permission. I wonder how many marriages or business deals were wrecked because of that?

How can they do this? The Electronic Privacy Act, which governs such things, was written in 1986. It is hopelessly out of date and needs to be revised. The ACLU, EFF, Google, ATT, Microsoft, and others have started a movement to get it revised. It’s called needs to be supported. We need strong privacy protection for all of us. There’s a lot of data out there about us and it’s pretty easy to gather and use or misuse. Governments, companies and individuals are NOT going to just ignore all this data because it’s the right thing to do. There needs to be a law with teeth that defines what can be done with this data.

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Your online privacy matters, and right now, you have very little control how much data is out there and how it is used.

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