Privacy, do you have it?

OK, here is something interesting I came across, while reading someone else's blog. That person was saying that they are receiving a lot of SPAM, and in between that they just mention about they are not worried about Google scanning their email and customizing advertisements and knowing their online and personal life, and so forth and blah blah blah. Unless you have no online life what so ever or any techie interests, you should know that Google's GMail has been very criticized for targeting adds by scanning the users' email messages. As it is very well known many of the advertisement companies are trying, some with much success, tracking visitors to web sites which stream adds from their servers. So the on-line topic associated with privacy and tracking and reading your email, it has been going on for quite a while. Well, anyways, here is what one of the comments some had posted:

You may be overlooking the real "business plan" behind these types of services. 5 years ago I worked on a system that did exactly what Gmail is now accomplishing on a much larger level. We used natural language processing to parse data that users exchanged between each other, build relationships, classify those relationships, profile users, gather the data compiled, then sell that data to groups like landlords, background checking groups (which consulting to hiring firms), credit agencies, law agencies and more.

We had two SGI onyx machines running through the Oracle db all day processing the NLP systems and building this data. You can't even imagine the depth in which information was retrieved about people - matching names to past jobs and current phone numbers matching to SS #'s, ex girl friends, legal disputes. I hope everyone doesn't believe the data is staying online...

Only took us 1 year to build this system and it was only about 4 guys (few mathematicians). I don't even dare to imagine what google has behind their system. I dont claim to know anything about google's business plan but our data was in high demand so I can assure you those same groups have talked to google.


That is kind of scary in a way, is not it? And that's just scratching the surface. That is just four guys.

After working at PayDirect, it was very interesting to learn about some of the systems that are out there and being utilized to track people and analyze their patterns, behavior, and number of their habits. Neronet systems, which think for themselves. And that is just to protect the institution. Wow. Just imagine how all of that information can be used to invade and control your life, if it finds its way in the wrong hands. Good thing information and advertisement control are directed to the general masses. Some what!

But, back to reading emails. Unless you encrypt your email through the use of PGP or in some other form, your on-line communications are defiantly read. And to support that, I recently read in eWeek that the courts have decided that it is ok for companied to read their customers emails. Isn't that kind of outrageous? We already know that companies are reading their employees emails. That is supposedly to protect the companies interests and assets. Hmm, I understand that and support it to certain extend, because I have read about incidents when damage has been done or prevented through monitoring email communications. Back to the case I read about in eWeek. It was about a company which scanned its customers' emails, so they can better compete with the rival Amazon.com. Apparently, the courts, which claim to be protecting the freedom and rights of people, don't see anything wrong using unsolicited people's emails as a tool for financial gain, even thought it is violation of privacy laws and policies. Wow. The courts claimed that the email service is provided by that company, so all emails originating or located on their servers belong to them, and they have the right to read them. That to me is disturbing, because even if that is so, companies so not to loss face with those who still value pride and reputation should implement up-front policies to protect and provide privacy to its customers. But that is not most important, what is more important is for these companies to apply and enforce the same policies and regulations.

Just to finish this up. A little known fact about Yahoo!. Everything you do and all of your emails on their servers are logged, recorded and archived. So that free email account does come at a certain price - Your Privacy. Better not do anything that would involve authorities subpoena them for your on-line history on Yahoo! Property.

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