Online Privacy Fears are for Real
“A 20-year-old woman stalked through the Internet and killed. Thousands of e-commerce customers watching as their credit card numbers are sold online for $1 apiece. Internet chat rooms where identities are bought, sold and traded like options on the Chicago Board of Trade. These are the horror stories dredged up by privacy advocates who say the Net’s threat to personal privacy can’t be dismissed as mere paranoia. And, they say, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
INTERNET PRIVACY is a murky, complicated issue full of conflicting interests, misinformation, innuendo and technology snafus. On the face of it, e-commerce companies and privacy advocates are locked in stalemate. Web sites want to know all they can about you; consumers generally want to share as little as possible.
Complicating matters further are criminals who break into Web sites, steal the information and use it for personal gain.
“There are a lot more people tracking you than you think,” Jackson said. “The data world is a very powerful and lucrative marketplace with a lot of players involved.” For evidence, he points to a Washington Post story that revealed that 11 pharmaceutical companies - including Pfizer Inc., SmithKline Beecham PLC, Glaxo Wellcome PLC - had formed an alliance and were tracking every click consumers made across their sites, then comparing notes. Consumers were never told.”