Doc Rampage
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
  invasion of privacy
Kathryn Jean Lopez passes on this report
Jack Dunphy tells me when he went to amazon to buy WFB's new book, Miles Gone By, he saw this on the same page:
Customers interested in this title may also be interested in:
Luxury Nude Vacation
Hidden Beach Resort Luxurious Nude Resort in Mexico
What if Mr. Dunphy was at Amazon looking for the book because it had just been recommended by his daughter? What if she had also told him that she bought some vacation books too, and was planning to take a vacation to Mexico this summer? Could this not lead Mr. Dunphy to wonder about his daughter's vacation plans? He would have to guess that only one person has made this particular buying decision. And he would have to guess that it has been recent. It's easy to come up with related scenarios where someone's privacy is invaded and it has serious consequences.

I read Amazon's privacy notice, and it doesn't mention anywhere that information about your buying habits might be made available to other customers. Even if they did tell us about this, they would claim that they only share information in aggregate, with no personal identifying information. Yet in this case it is possible to extract that personal identifying information.

I don't want to leave it up to some random programmer to decided what constitutes a safe and anonymous use of my information. I have no idea how conscientious or thoughtful he is. In this case, whoever wrote the program was an idiot. You should never provide sensitive "aggregate" information without using a lower bound on how many customers have been aggregated. Not only are you risking the privacy of your customers, you are providing useless information.

People who are using Google mail and other web services that gather personal information should keep this in mind. They say they aren't going to abuse their position but you don't know that they are even competent enough to keep their word, much less whether they are ethical enough.

On a related note: people should not provide a friend's personal information to a web site. Those harmless-looking links that say "email this to a friend" are a likely SPAM trap. You enter your friend's email address into a web form and they may have a lifetime of junk mail to thank you for. Of course this isn't a danger if the "email this to a friend" link just pops up your email program, only if you enter data into a web form.
 
Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
The wit and wisdom of the world's foremost metahero.
My Photo

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

Links
Fresh Meat
Source Forge
Mozilla The World's Best Basketball
ScrappleFace
Carnival entries
Pajamas Media
Schlock Mercenary
Project Guttenberg
Boat Design
Grognardia

Recommended Reading
Instapundit
La Shawn Barber's Corner
Back of the Envelope
Mostly Cajun
Monday Evening
Head Noises
Cree Tees
John C. Wright's Journal
the Belmont Club
Townhall.com
The Corner
The Volokh Conspiracy
Iraq The Model
Parableman
Digitus, Finger and Co.
Roscoe's Blog
Milblog
Flying Space Monkey
Patterico's Pontifications
Michelle Malkin
Ann Coulter
Blaster's Blog
Roger L. Simon
Hugh Hewitt
One Hand Clapping
Dean's World
WOLves
The Crusader
Dodgeblogium
Xrlq
Tales by Sheya
Emigre with a Digital Cluebat
Right Wing News
Hugo Schwyzer
faith*in*fiction
Master of None
Rhymes With Right
Maverick Philosopher
Eye of Polyphemus
New Victorian
waka waka waka
Right As Usual
Stop the ACLU
Big Lizards
TheGodFearinForum
the Tygrrrr Express

Powered by Blogger  

Archives
02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004 / 02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004 / 02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004 / 02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004 / 03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004 / 03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004 / 03/21/2004 - 03/28/2004 / 03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004 / 04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004 / 04/11/2004 - 04/18/2004 / 04/18/2004 - 04/25/2004 / 04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004 / 05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004 / 05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004 / 05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004 / 05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004 / 05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004 / 06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004 / 06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004 / 06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004 / 06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004 / 07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004 / 07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004 / 07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004 / 07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004 / 08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004 / 08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004 / 08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004 / 08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004 / 09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004 / 09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004 / 09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004 / 09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004 / 10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004 / 10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004 / 10/17/2004 - 10/24/2004 / 10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004 / 10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004 / 11/07/2004 - 11/14/2004 / 11/14/2004 - 11/21/2004 / 11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004 / 11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004 / 12/05/2004 - 12/12/2004 / 12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004 / 12/19/2004 - 12/26/2004 / 12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005 / 01/02/2005 - 01/09/2005 / 01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005 / 01/16/2005 - 01/23/2005 / 01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005 / 01/30/2005 - 02/06/2005 / 02/06/2005 - 02/13/2005 / 02/13/2005 - 02/20/2005 / 02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005 / 02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005 / 03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005 / 03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005 / 03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005 / 03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005 / 04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005 / 04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005 / 04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005 / 04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005 / 05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005 / 05/15/2005 - 05/22/2005 / 05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005 / 05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005 / 06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005 / 06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005 / 06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005 / 06/26/2005 - 07/03/2005 / 07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005 / 07/10/2005 - 07/17/2005 / 07/17/2005 - 07/24/2005 / 07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005 / 07/31/2005 - 08/07/2005 / 08/07/2005 - 08/14/2005 / 08/14/2005 - 08/21/2005 / 08/21/2005 - 08/28/2005 / 08/28/2005 - 09/04/2005 / 09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005 / 09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005 / 09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005 / 09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005 / 10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005 / 10/09/2005 - 10/16/2005 / 10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005 / 10/23/2005 - 10/30/2005 / 10/30/2005 - 11/06/2005 / 11/06/2005 - 11/13/2005 / 11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005 / 11/20/2005 - 11/27/2005 / 11/27/2005 - 12/04/2005 / 12/04/2005 - 12/11/2005 / 12/11/2005 - 12/18/2005 / 12/18/2005 - 12/25/2005 / 01/08/2006 - 01/15/2006 / 01/15/2006 - 01/22/2006 / 01/22/2006 - 01/29/2006 / 01/29/2006 - 02/05/2006 / 02/05/2006 - 02/12/2006 / 02/12/2006 - 02/19/2006 / 02/19/2006 - 02/26/2006 / 02/26/2006 - 03/05/2006 / 03/05/2006 - 03/12/2006 / 03/12/2006 - 03/19/2006 / 03/19/2006 - 03/26/2006 / 04/02/2006 - 04/09/2006 / 04/09/2006 - 04/16/2006 / 04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006 / 04/23/2006 - 04/30/2006 / 04/30/2006 - 05/07/2006 / 05/07/2006 - 05/14/2006 / 05/14/2006 - 05/21/2006 / 05/21/2006 - 05/28/2006 / 05/28/2006 - 06/04/2006 / 06/04/2006 - 06/11/2006 / 06/11/2006 - 06/18/2006 / 06/18/2006 - 06/25/2006 / 07/02/2006 - 07/09/2006 / 07/09/2006 - 07/16/2006 / 07/16/2006 - 07/23/2006 / 07/23/2006 - 07/30/2006 / 07/30/2006 - 08/06/2006 / 08/06/2006 - 08/13/2006 / 08/13/2006 - 08/20/2006 / 08/20/2006 - 08/27/2006 / 08/27/2006 - 09/03/2006 / 09/03/2006 - 09/10/2006 / 09/10/2006 - 09/17/2006 / 09/17/2006 - 09/24/2006 / 09/24/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 10/08/2006 / 10/08/2006 - 10/15/2006 / 10/15/2006 - 10/22/2006 / 10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006 / 10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006 / 11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006 / 11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006 / 11/19/2006 - 11/26/2006 / 11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006 / 12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006 / 12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006 / 12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006 / 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007 / 01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007 / 01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007 / 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007 / 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007 / 02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007 / 05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007 / 06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007 / 06/17/2007 - 06/24/2007 / 06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007 / 07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007 / 07/15/2007 - 07/22/2007 / 08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007 / 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007 / 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007 / 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007 / 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007 / 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007 / 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007 / 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007 / 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007 / 10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007 / 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007 / 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007 / 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007 / 01/13/2008 - 01/20/2008 / 01/27/2008 - 02/03/2008 / 02/03/2008 - 02/10/2008 / 02/10/2008 - 02/17/2008 / 02/17/2008 - 02/24/2008 / 02/24/2008 - 03/02/2008 / 03/02/2008 - 03/09/2008 / 03/09/2008 - 03/16/2008 / 03/16/2008 - 03/23/2008 / 03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008 / 03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008 / 04/06/2008 - 04/13/2008 / 04/13/2008 - 04/20/2008 / 04/20/2008 - 04/27/2008 / 04/27/2008 - 05/04/2008 / 05/11/2008 - 05/18/2008 / 05/18/2008 - 05/25/2008 / 05/25/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008 / 06/08/2008 - 06/15/2008 / 06/15/2008 - 06/22/2008 / 06/22/2008 - 06/29/2008 / 06/29/2008 - 07/06/2008 / 07/13/2008 - 07/20/2008 / 07/20/2008 - 07/27/2008 / 07/27/2008 - 08/03/2008 / 08/10/2008 - 08/17/2008 / 08/17/2008 - 08/24/2008 / 08/24/2008 - 08/31/2008 / 08/31/2008 - 09/07/2008 / 09/14/2008 - 09/21/2008 / 09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008 / 09/28/2008 - 10/05/2008 / 10/05/2008 - 10/12/2008 / 10/12/2008 - 10/19/2008 / 10/26/2008 - 11/02/2008 / 11/02/2008 - 11/09/2008 / 11/09/2008 - 11/16/2008 / 12/21/2008 - 12/28/2008 / 02/15/2009 - 02/22/2009 / 02/22/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 03/01/2009 - 03/08/2009 / 03/08/2009 - 03/15/2009 / 03/15/2009 - 03/22/2009 / 04/12/2009 - 04/19/2009 / 04/19/2009 - 04/26/2009 / 04/26/2009 - 05/03/2009 / 05/03/2009 - 05/10/2009 / 05/10/2009 - 05/17/2009 / 05/17/2009 - 05/24/2009 / 05/24/2009 - 05/31/2009 / 05/31/2009 - 06/07/2009 / 06/07/2009 - 06/14/2009 / 06/14/2009 - 06/21/2009 / 07/19/2009 - 07/26/2009 / 07/26/2009 - 08/02/2009 / 08/16/2009 - 08/23/2009 / 08/23/2009 - 08/30/2009 / 08/30/2009 - 09/06/2009 / 09/06/2009 - 09/13/2009 / 09/13/2009 - 09/20/2009 / 09/20/2009 - 09/27/2009 / 09/27/2009 - 10/04/2009 / 10/04/2009 - 10/11/2009 / 10/11/2009 - 10/18/2009 / 10/18/2009 - 10/25/2009 / 10/25/2009 - 11/01/2009 / 11/01/2009 - 11/08/2009 / 11/08/2009 - 11/15/2009 / 11/22/2009 - 11/29/2009 / 11/29/2009 - 12/06/2009 / 12/06/2009 - 12/13/2009 / 12/27/2009 - 01/03/2010 / 01/17/2010 - 01/24/2010 / 01/31/2010 - 02/07/2010 / 02/07/2010 - 02/14/2010 / 03/07/2010 - 03/14/2010 / 03/14/2010 - 03/21/2010 / 04/11/2010 - 04/18/2010 / 04/18/2010 - 04/25/2010 / 04/25/2010 - 05/02/2010 / 05/02/2010 - 05/09/2010 / 05/09/2010 - 05/16/2010 / 05/23/2010 - 05/30/2010 / 05/30/2010 - 06/06/2010 / 06/13/2010 - 06/20/2010 / 07/18/2010 - 07/25/2010 / 07/25/2010 - 08/01/2010 / 08/01/2010 - 08/08/2010 / 08/08/2010 - 08/15/2010 / 08/22/2010 - 08/29/2010 / 09/05/2010 - 09/12/2010 / 10/03/2010 - 10/10/2010 / 10/17/2010 - 10/24/2010 / 10/24/2010 - 10/31/2010 / 10/31/2010 - 11/07/2010 / 11/14/2010 - 11/21/2010 / 12/05/2010 - 12/12/2010 / 12/12/2010 - 12/19/2010 / 12/19/2010 - 12/26/2010 / 12/26/2010 - 01/02/2011 / 01/09/2011 - 01/16/2011 / 01/16/2011 - 01/23/2011 / 02/06/2011 - 02/13/2011 / 02/13/2011 - 02/20/2011 / 02/20/2011 - 02/27/2011 / 03/06/2011 - 03/13/2011 / 03/13/2011 - 03/20/2011 / 03/27/2011 - 04/03/2011 / 04/10/2011 - 04/17/2011 / 04/24/2011 - 05/01/2011 / 05/01/2011 - 05/08/2011 / 06/05/2011 - 06/12/2011 / 06/12/2011 - 06/19/2011 / 07/17/2011 - 07/24/2011 / 07/24/2011 - 07/31/2011 / 07/31/2011 - 08/07/2011 / 08/07/2011 - 08/14/2011 / 09/11/2011 - 09/18/2011 / 09/18/2011 - 09/25/2011 / 10/09/2011 - 10/16/2011 / 10/16/2011 - 10/23/2011 / 10/23/2011 - 10/30/2011 / 11/06/2011 - 11/13/2011 / 11/13/2011 - 11/20/2011 / 11/27/2011 - 12/04/2011 / 01/01/2012 - 01/08/2012 / 01/08/2012 - 01/15/2012 / 02/05/2012 - 02/12/2012 / 02/12/2012 - 02/19/2012 / 02/19/2012 - 02/26/2012 / 03/11/2012 - 03/18/2012 / 04/01/2012 - 04/08/2012 / 04/08/2012 - 04/15/2012 / 04/15/2012 - 04/22/2012 / 04/22/2012 - 04/29/2012 / 04/29/2012 - 05/06/2012 / 05/06/2012 - 05/13/2012 / 05/13/2012 - 05/20/2012 / 05/20/2012 - 05/27/2012 / 05/27/2012 - 06/03/2012 / 06/03/2012 - 06/10/2012 / 06/10/2012 - 06/17/2012 / 06/17/2012 - 06/24/2012 / 07/29/2012 - 08/05/2012 / 08/05/2012 - 08/12/2012 / 08/26/2012 - 09/02/2012 / 09/02/2012 - 09/09/2012 / 09/09/2012 - 09/16/2012 / 09/16/2012 - 09/23/2012 / 09/30/2012 - 10/07/2012 / 10/21/2012 - 10/28/2012 / 10/28/2012 - 11/04/2012 / 11/04/2012 - 11/11/2012 / 11/18/2012 - 11/25/2012 / 11/25/2012 - 12/02/2012 / 12/02/2012 - 12/09/2012 / 12/16/2012 - 12/23/2012 / 12/23/2012 - 12/30/2012 / 01/13/2013 - 01/20/2013 / 06/02/2013 - 06/09/2013 / 06/23/2013 - 06/30/2013 / 09/22/2013 - 09/29/2013 / 03/30/2014 - 04/06/2014 / 04/06/2014 - 04/13/2014 /