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Surprising Science

It’s Not Just the NSA. Global Corporations Track You, Too.

Much of the NSA’s data collection efforts simply work to skim private information from the vast consumer caches held by corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

What’s the Latest Development?

While the National Security Agency has received a great deal of attention lately for violating the privacy rights of American citizens, much of its collections efforts simply skim data from private corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. In fact, private data tracking has become an enormous fly-by-night industry. “The profiles are so detailed that…companies can buy lists of people with specific characteristics: millionaires in the United States, people with poor credit histories, or even adults with a condition diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, says Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the privacy and technology project at the American Civil Liberties Union.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Privacy advocates object that too much of the current burden to protect privacy rights falls on the consumer, and with too few laws regulating data sharing with third parties, there is “very little people can do in the digital world to protect their communications,” said Ashkan Soltani, an independent researcher who has advised the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on privacy issues. “What’s most troubling to privacy advocates – in an eerie parallel with the NSA spying programs – is the sheer volume of information companies are gathering. The masses of data work for their own profit – not consumers’ benefit, privacy advocates say.”

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Read it at the Christian Science Monitor


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