You don't even have to buy
anything over the Internet to get caught up in the corporate data collection game.
Your browser, its plug-ins and other software programs on your computer make you
an unwitting player. Simply viewing a Web page can get you involved.
A major culprit is spyware, including the programs Radiate and Aureate. One of these might be operating on your computer right now.
A program that was
in the spotlight a few years ago is RealJukeBox from RealNetworks. An early version
sent details of users' music downloads back to head office through the user's
Internet connection. Not surprisingly, many people
resented this, and RealNetworks disabled the feature.
The controversy resurfaced when Steve Gibson of Gibson Research discovered that another RealNetworks
program, RealDownload, was sending his name and email address too. If you're up for
the technical details, they're here.
Doubleclick is an
and because it runs the advertising on a very large number of sites, it collects
a lot of data and gets accurate profiles of users.
then decided to go one step further and tie in the data with users' real names
and addresses from shopping transactions - but finally backed down.
Corporations like to collect
statistics from friendly sites that aren't their own. To do this they ask the
site webmaster to plant Web bugs on the pages. These are innocuous files, often tiny graphics, but they're held on the server of the corporation rather than the site. So each time a page containing
a bug is accessed, the corporation gets an entry on its server logs showing the visitor's IP address. They can be used in HTML emails
intimate friend, the network manager
- as private as a postcard
to other privacy sites