Corporate Data Mining for Government Surveillance

Sean Blog 1The internet. It’s a playground for you to browse cat pictures, buy your third cousin’s second child’s first birthday present or watch a hilarious clip of last week’s Bob’s Burgers episode. But did you know that there are tiny files on your computer keeping track of your every move and interest? Someone wants this information, and it’s not just the government.

Blog2Almost every website you visit places a file on your computer to keep track of your information. According to an article by Julia Angwen on the Wallstreet Journal titled “The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets,” the most intrusive of these files work by downloading a file onto your computer and assigning it a unique ID. When you return to that website at a later date, you will have a plethora of information for them to use in their advertisements. But how does this compare to government surveillance?

Blog3Constantly, conversations about the N.S.A (National Security Agency) spark up on the internet. The N.S.A has admitted to spying on users through their browsing data, phone conversations and instant messaging convos. According to Joshua Kopstein from The Verge in his article, “Everything You Need to Know About PRISM,” The N.S.A uses a device called PRISM to collect this information. Among your conversations and much like data mining, your interests are also collected.
Blog4But what makes corporate data mining different from government surveillance? For starters, the intention on the two is completely different. The N.S.A doesn’t want to sell you a product; they want to catch the bad guys before they have the chance to be the bad guys. And best of all, it’s all protected under the conveniently named “Protect America Act”. But don’t worry, they aren’t going to bother coming after you for admitting you enjoy jaywalking across the street.
Corporate Data Miners do, however, make a living off of your information. They want you to keep browsing websites in order for them to gain more information and advertise more accurately towards your demographic. If they were to persecute you for any of the websites you visit, they would lose customer. Your every click is their dollar and if they will earn more if they can find a way for their ads to appeal to you.

In the end, Corporate Data Mining and Internet Surveillance simply track your progress using similar methods (except for PRISM) for different reasons. What they are doing is morally ambiguous, but is it harmful? After all, their goals are only to make a living and to, arguably, keep you alive.

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28 thoughts on “Corporate Data Mining for Government Surveillance

  1. spgregor January 22, 2015 / 1:43 pm

    I am opposed to data mining of all types. However, as long as the Internet is in use someone will find a way to make a living off of it. To me, the least harmful are those that just track my shopping preferences to show me similar items I may be interested in. Yes, they are annoying and many times show me things I am not interested in at all. The data mining that tracks our more personal information and distributes it to agencies that can possibly use it negatively are much more dangerous to us. Once that information is passed on we can’t get it back. Should our business lives have access to our personal lives if we don’t grant them it? Does my bank or insurance company need to know what I am posting on social media? No matter how safe we try to be online, sometimes it is out of our control. There should be laws in place regulating data mining, especially since they can’t really verify the information they are passing on is accurate.

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    • Brandon Coulter January 22, 2015 / 7:09 pm

      I will agree that unknowingly grabbing an individual’s personal information and using it for monetary gain is technically an immoral action towards the afflicted individual. The information that is tracked and stored could possibly harm us if used incorrectly or inappropriately by any agency or company wishing to sell our lives for a quick buck. This being said, I cannot think of a single instance where a company or corporation has truly gone overboard in terms of distributing sensitive information, at least in terms of a mass-scale disruption. Their have been individual instances of invasive action from an establishment towards an individual; however, these individuals seem more or less to be guinea pigs thrown in as the early recipients of possible harmful actions that can be taken out. Aside from the minimal instances of true harm, the majority of our information is used in painless and sometimes helpful manners, completely passing over our heads as if it truly doesn’t even matter. The only person to blame when harmful information gets placed within the public sphere is more often than not the person involved, the catalyst of his or her own demise when initially distributing content that should have been thought twice about.

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  2. Carly Hernandez January 22, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    I definitely think that it is an invasion of privacy but I’m not sure I could consider it directly harmful to us. I don’t enjoy hearing that there is a file being downloaded to my computer analyzing my every move on the internet. But you’re right; people do need to make a living and they chose this to make money. That doesn’t mean it is right but in the article, ‘The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets’ by Julia Angwin, she says, “One of the faster-growing businesses on the internet is the business of spying on Internet users.” I truly believe this because it is a business that we don’t usually think of when it comes to thinking of jobs. Advertisement companies are dying for your information so they can accurately make every single Internet user their target demographic. They know everything about us from what is going on in our lives in the very moment to what our favorite thing to watch on Netflix is.

    Again, I don’t think the goal of the data mining companies is to harm us but they could definitely use our information against us. Selling it to other companies, social media websites and invading us in ways that we still might not even know about. For a long time we didn’t even realize this was going on until the Internet became such an everyday norm and technology kept expanding. There became new more innovative ways to come in contact with our information. Mostly everything you sign up for online requires your name, email, phone number and sometimes address. What do they need all this information for? It is hard to say that I trust anything on the internet anymore but we sign up for new things every day so why stop now? Our information is out there already.

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  3. eakoonter January 24, 2015 / 12:44 am

    I think it’s insane that files are downloaded with a unique ID and then they collect a bunch of information on what you’ve been doing.I think that internet surveillance is a necessary thing. So many people are caught communicating terrorist plans and doing illegal things via the Internet, phone, etc. As an innocent person, I’m perfectly okay with the government scanning things over to make sure me and my family are safe. I do enjoy my right to privacy, but really…nobody has had complete privacy since telephones were invented. Before you had to call an operator and they would connect your call to another phone line. The operator would sit in on conversations during this. So, I have no idea what people are complaining about nowadays!?

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  4. Ms.McCollum January 24, 2015 / 3:40 am

    In regards to my online privacy management I described myself as “Worried by the Wayside.” Yes, I am anxious about the information on myself that is available; however there isn’t much I can do about that. My privacy concerns me more when it comes to data mining. The fact that companies want to sell my information is a worry. Working in marketing I know that an email is very valuable. For an email to have such an impact on a small business is only minor to the information large corporations want. But I don’t mean at large as the government.

    PRISM does not bother me. I’d rather have a government official looking into my personal information than the Average Joe working for Verizon. The government is there to protect us, and many said last week, giving up some privacy for safety is okay. Could you really say no to an initiative post 9/11? I don’t think so. I think people make it a big deal because they don’t have a say in the matter, and complaining about the government is so easy to do.

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  5. adrianhormsby January 24, 2015 / 4:01 am

    This blog is one of the most interesting of the week, one that blurs the division between the private and public sector. Basically the private data mining companies are treating government security agencies as a prized client, willing to pay big bucks for the information it needs on it’s own citizens. It’s not just Big Brother but Big Brother gone corporate. Perhaps we should rename him the Cookie Monster, eating everything and everyone in site (pardon the pun). The Wall Street Journal article should be a wake up call to all of us (and I mean everyone) who regularly shops on the internet. Amazon, Ebay, Groupon, Expedia, GAP, Target, and the list goes on. I’m certain that the goals of the corporation and government are all about keeping themselves alive (something they do with gusto) but I’m not so certain if they really care about us staying alive or how the data is used against us. As Sean rightly points out, our every click is their dollar and they don’t discriminate between who clicks or where the dollar comes from, it’s all cream to them. Just imagine for a second how this could play out. You’re a serious history student with an interest in the Middle East conflict and it just so happens you like to hunt with your dad in the UP every fall for deer. You get a cookie when you log on to Al Jazeera to see the latest happenings in the Gaza or in Yemen etc. The cookie monitors how often, how long and what you view on Al Jazeera including all the suicide bombings that take place on almost a weekly basis. At the same time you check out the Cabelas website each week for the best price on 22 caliber ammunition leading up to the hunting season. Before you know it the NSA has a dossier that potentially paints you as a radical jihad sympathizer with a critical weapons stash in your home, when in reality you’re a history nerd who can’t stand the sight of blood and let’s his dad skin the deer in the garage while you go inside and have a hot cup of coffee. Just something to think about 🙂

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  6. mvzang January 24, 2015 / 7:53 am

    First off, excellent summarizing of the articles and great comics. Yes, it’s morally ambiguous and under the eyes of the law, it’s not illegal either. There are several points of view that come to mind for me. While it’s definitely creepy and shocking companies take bits of information off your computer without ones consent, I can see the companies point of view in that it allows them to target audiences for marketing and other purposes, too. What’s more irritating to me is that they sneak these files onto your computer without making it clear that they’re doing it in turn using memory. I couldn’t believe that Dictionary.com was the worst offender in that it had 41 beacons, which allows companies to track your every movement on their site while you’re using it (The Web’s New Gold Mine of Secrets, 2010).
    There needs to be clear and concise language in the law that doesn’t allow these companies to just infiltrate your computer. It’s the same as it they were allowed to install a camera in your home and watch you while the blinds are closed to better determine what articles of clothes you wear. Autonomy is a word that comes to mind in this matter as well. I believe that people should be allowed to surf EBay.com and other retailer’s sites without being “watched”. Because this technology is relatively new, and the government hasn’t caught up with the technological times, these companies will continue to maintain their courses of action and harvest extreme amounts of data without any interference.

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  7. galaradi January 24, 2015 / 9:53 pm

    Companies that practice data mining on their clients are infringing on the customer’s personal interests for their own benefits. They don’t care what we like or don’t, they just want our money. That makes me uncomfortable. The fact that companies can view what we are interested in, and try to sell us or shove products down our throat. If a customer wants to buy a product, he/she will . It isn’t necessary or moral to infringe on someone’s personal information for his or her own needs.

    “Opting out of all those interactions is opting out of society,” said Joel Stein, the author of the “Data Mining: How Companies Know Everything About You”. He said this statement describing the social interactions and public information about us on the Internet. We cant run away from it now in the Digital Age. Whether we like it or not, our information will be out there if we are an active part of society.

    “Data-mining companies are “scraping” all your personal data that’s not set to private and selling it to any outside party that’s interested,” said Stein. Our information is being sold to these data-mining companies. I don’t agree with the way our information is being manipulated for the benefits of these companies. If their products are good quality, then there is no need to infringe on our personal information for their own gain.

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  8. kevinpayton1 January 25, 2015 / 12:04 am

    I was totally shocked after reading the article in the Wall Street Journal about how data mining is done. I had heard of cookies and their purpose for being installed on your computer was for quicker response and accessibility to frequented web pages. I was under the impression that those web pages who installed cookies had to ask your permission to do so and also that you have the option to delete the cookies at any given time. Some websites have even been as bold to not allow access to their website without allowing cookies to be installed on your computer. All this info I was aware of, but I had no knowledge of beacons and flash cookies existed. What makes me more shocked is the way in which these data collecting programs work and are installed without our knowledge. The idea that they can be hid in popular websites like Dictionary.com is jaw dropping. The owners of these popular websites claim they have no idea that these programs are being secretly downloaded onto their viewers web pages is suspect to me. Also the amount of programs that are being installed on your computer is unbelievable. I believe the article stated that as many as 300 tracking devices where installed on viewers computers at one time. How do you combat that?

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  9. nebior January 25, 2015 / 1:03 am

    This post seems to be a nice blend of the other two that were posted this week. I suppose that means my answer will have to pertain to both while not repeating myself. The strong example of a file being downloaded to one’s computer probably sparked some strong feelings in people in our class. Having something on your computer that you did not request or put there could be a bit worrisome, but these files are harmless. As long as the performance of the computer is not affected and nothing malicious is done by the file then it does not really matter to me. If people want to track my browsing and make a couple dollars off it, then I say let them have at it. The gathering of this browsing data is really helping companies target their advertising at those who would actually want to see it. When I see an ad for a video game while browsing the internet I appreciate all the work that others had to do in order for me to see an ad that pertains to my interests. One day, one of us may have a company that struggles with targeting advertising and we too may turn to tracked user data in order to enhance our advertisements’ strengths. Data tracking is a useful, harmless tool that is changing the way advertising is done as a whole.

    –Ben Walker

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  10. blcarr January 25, 2015 / 5:42 am

    How could you accept someone stashing your private files in a secret system? I understand that we are supposed to watch what we are sharing online, but come on! Why isn’t it ok for me to post NSFW content, but it’s ok for a stranger to collect my content, store it and bring it to light when I’m rich and successful? Don’t get me wrong, I believe in internet surveillance do to internet bullying and credit card fraud. But I don’t believe in stealing, filing and sharing my files at a later date. Today’s file storing is no different than wire tapping by the government, or telephone operators when the phone was first invented. They would listen to our whole conversation, connecting and transferring our dialog. I can remember being able to hear my neighbors conversation by just picking up my receiver.

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  11. cseejay January 25, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    Data mining has interested me more and more as of lately, mainly because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I remember before data mining was widely used among large corporations ads on the Internet were awful! It was cool thing at first, and now as of lately it’s become more of a concerning issue now that releasing individual’s private information out to the public is the hot thing to do. I know for a lot of people trying to reach that far back into their minds to remember a time before data mining was a thing, some of the ads you get on frequently visited websites were pretty random and intrusive. In some cases, they were so bad I didn’t like going to certain sites. Not that I’m necessarily defending mining, but I think it’s something that serves it’s purpose. Have there been any huge issues with private information being released to the public as a result of mining information? I personally feel like when talking ONLY about mining information so companies can better target me with ads for things I’m actually interested in, isn’t as big of a deal. Taking into account how angry random ads used to make me, I’m okay with it. Is it an invasion of privacy, yes, but I don’t see it as a big deal compared to credit card information being hacked, or my iCloud account blasted out in the airwaves for the masses to see.

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    • asibo January 25, 2015 / 5:17 pm

      I agree with your take that corporate data mining is something of a necessary evil, and is fairly innocuous, considering the fact that there’s been no instance that we are aware of that anyone’s mined personal information has been compromised or has been used for particularly harmful or nefarious purposes. If anything, it seems that when we willfully turn over our personal or sensitive data, it is far more likely to be hacked and used against (think PlayStation Network and Targets hacks in the recent past).Personal information that is cataloged online is no different than information on us that would have been found in any phone book or government file in the past, it’s just more available now than it was before. And whose to say that companies didn’t already use these archaic methods of figuring out how to market to us when they were the most convenient means to find out about their potential consumers? Would we really have been able to know?

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  12. mwiedmeyer January 25, 2015 / 5:29 pm

    Personally, I’m uncomfortable with the usage of data mining by companies on the internet. I can’t lie, I do click on the personalized ads when I see something that interests me, but afterwards I’m immediately creeped out by the accuracy of their choices for me. I see an ad for a Modcloth dress I like after I’ve visited their site, and I just feel uneasy. I know it’s not necessarily a logical connection to make, but when I see they have access to what I look at, I wonder how long it will be before I can go to check out at another online store and my credit card information will be “autofilled by online partners” or something equally invasive.
    About U.S. data collected by the NSA, it bothers me on principle but in practice, I know I don’t really have anything to lose. I’m not a terrorist or an enemy of the state, and in that way, I know I don’t have anything to worry about. I feel, however, that this early invasion of privacy is just the beginning. If the majority of Americans are apathetic towards the current loss of privacy, there’s very little to stop the government from slowly taking more ground and barging into our personal lives more and more.

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  13. bjuhasz10 January 25, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    It seems that we are divided on government surveillance (some see the benefits of providing safety to our country, while others think it is a clear invasion of privacy). However, from reading the comments, it seems that most of us are against data mining, at least somewhat. I think the accuracy with which data mining can figure out our interests and how much personal information can be recorded is scary.

    However, I took a step back and wanted to look at it from the viewpoint of a website. Let’s take Amazon as an example. If my previous shopping history included a basketball, soccer cleats, and a baseball bat, clearly I am interested in buying sports equipment. At the end of the day, Amazon is one of the largest online shopping stores, and their main goal is to make money off of me and other buyers. Thus, they will do whatever it takes to get my business over and over again. Data mining allows them to do it.

    Whether it’s professional sports, Wall Street, technology, or online shopping, every company is trying to gain a competitive edge. Amazon and other online websites are trying to either get to the top and make as much money as possible, or stay at the top and keep accruing profits.

    Being a very competitive person myself, I understand pushing the envelope and trying to do everything to win (or in the case of online websites, make the most money). Unfortunately, I believe that until there are laws against data mining, or certain protocols to protect users, companies will keep doing whatever they legally can to take advantage of shoppers and users.

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  14. jaemillz411 January 25, 2015 / 7:39 pm

    I do not think that it is in anyone’s best interest to collect personal data for whatever the government and/or corporations see fit. I think the PRISM scandal would not have been such a big deal if the government had told the public from the beginning. During 9/11 America wanted security. I believe the surveillance program would have been accepted easier. I can see both points of view when it comes to feeling violated and trying to prevent crime, but the question is where you we draw the line. The government is trying to protect us, but at the end of the day the public has to decide what we are willing to sacrifice for convenience. We need to look at where privacy falls on our list of priorities. However, the data mining for corporations is different. They are buying and/or selling our personal information for fiscal gain. I can see the commonality between the government and corporations, like obtaining private citizen information and doing so behind closed doors. But the ends are different. The corporations gather the information to sell to the public. Both methods are creepy. I would feel better if both agencies were honest, but the government has more a reason to keep their methods secret. Corporations just do it because they can.

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  15. mstor763 January 25, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    In my opinion, Data Mining should be allowed only by user consent. The most interesting thing that I read was how the programs are on your computer without your knowledge. I would assume, most people like myself, could care less if they are being tracked by companies in order for them to sell you better products. I get this all the time on Amazon and I personally love it. I buy a lot of odds and ends adapters for electronics and the ones they tend to share are ones that are highly reviewed. Is this some other ploy? well maybe, but I can say when I have changed my mind and used their suggested item instead I have not been disappointed. Is it a bit creepy? – sure – but I dont mind. What I do mind however, is the government using it to spy on me as an individual. Their use is by far different than those of amazon or other sites like ebay. I dont care if its in a “protect america act”, my privacy is my privacy and I have a right to have that. If i gave a reason in the past to be under surveillance well that’s a different story. In the end, I could care less about this whole data mining thing as long as its used in an honest manner, for example, a notification.

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  16. bubbastinx January 25, 2015 / 11:56 pm

    I enjoyed this article. I do, whoever, wish that more people wouldn’t underestimate the power and potential for wrinkles by the NSA’s PRISM program. I agree, and understand most peoples perspective that if you aren’t doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about. I do beg that many of you become students of history. At which point that you can see how these cyber tools can become weapons of political oppression, political assassination, and in some case take an everyday unassuming student, and make them a patsy. Also, as I read through this blog I can’t help to think about Tom Cruise in minority report, and then the legal case under the Supreme Court that you can’t prove someones intent based on data. I think much of this complicates matters, and honestly creates a few terrible outcomes when followed by its logical ends. But alas, who cares about logical when the vast majority of people are educated cretins. 🙂

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  17. hessaj January 26, 2015 / 1:20 am

    In a way, everything around you is a business. I don’t find it surprising that there’s jobs out there like this. Though we are protected, it is a weird/scary thought that we are being monitored while surfing the internet. It’s reminds me of telemarketing in a way, cybermarketing…I don’t know. A problem I see through this is potential abuse of information gathered. I remember during a brief period of time I would visit a website pretty much daily. And it was infested with ads that I was driven away for a little, and that’s a loss in clicks for them. I feel like a good medium of ads on the Internet based on your interests and tastes would be okay.

    The government surveillance is something that could be changed a little. It is to protect us and to prevent negative events, but I do feel like I’m invaded in everything I search for. If their searches were filtered, it’d be more understandable, but then again I don’t know exactly how this all works besides it monitors and protects us at the same time.

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  18. smkiraco January 26, 2015 / 1:50 am

    Is it harmful? I guess that depends on the intent. As you have pointed out the intents of the corporations and government vary greatly. Corporations are looking to increase profits while the government is looking to intercept and stop any threats. For the time being I do not have much of an issue with corporations handling my information. So far. This is because I agree with you that corporations for the most part do not want to put in jeopardy any profits. I do, however have qualms with the government handling this information even though their intent is to stop “threats.” This is mainly because we, the population of the country, do not know what the government’s definition of “threat” is. We are to believe that it is terrorists, criminals, and the like but articles like the ones mentioned by Jameel Jaffer in http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/06/09/is-the-nsa-surveillance-threat-real-or-imagined would prove that is only partially true. Until this definition is clearly, and more importantly truthfully (I am very doubtful of this happening), defined having the government have in their possession all of this information is worrying.

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  19. sneff16 January 26, 2015 / 2:29 am

    I think that selling my information so companies can advertise things to me is harmful and I don’t want it. I don’t want to be advertised to and I don’t want my information shared with anyone. It’s annoying. It annoys me just as much as advertisements before a youtube video or on pandora. I now subscribe to spotify so I never have to listen to some commercial and I can skip around as much as I want. Businesses are always trying to find some new way to market to people. Guess what? If your product is good enough, people will buy it and you won’t have to spam their e-mail addresses or collect personal information on people in order to specifically advertise to them. Recommendations from friends and family is frequently what gets people to buy a product. Being inundated with advertisements is what gets me to not buy a product.

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  20. stefaniedak January 26, 2015 / 2:42 am

    I definitely see and understand your point about the fact that these situations could possibly be seen as an unharmful act. However, it is beyond wrong to be promised privacy and then allow multi-million corporations to make a profit by breaching our right to privacy. The government allows them to do so, therefore everything stems back to the government. Why manipulate us into thinking we had any sort of privacy to begin with? However, you are right in that they are not identity thieves, serial killers etc. They are just corporations trying to target their ads in order to keep making large sums of money and the government trying to keep their country secure. But, how can we easily trust them? At the end of the day, although they tell us that our information is used for ad targeting and securing the country from threats, what do we really know about these people who collect our information? At the end of the day, they are quite vague when describing what they do with our information thus, data mining of any sort should concern each and every one of us.

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  21. lewenzel93 January 26, 2015 / 2:55 am

    As much as I dislike being, or at least feeling like I am being, “watched” on the internet, I don’t necessarily believe this data mining is harmful. Everyone’s trying to sell something, and any opportunity for businesses to advertise to consumers is going to be taken. In this day and age, the internet is where it’s at and corporations and their advertisers know that. Is it annoying? Yeah. Is it harmful, though? How could it really be? I mean, you’ve been google searching “good running shoes” and a Nike ad happens to pop up on the side of your facebook that offers a 20% discount. Seems like a win-win situation to me. And there’s always the option to block ads. People have created apps you can install in your internet browser that automatically blocks all ads, even those annoying 30 second clips you can’t skip past on YouTube videos. Back to the matter at hand, though, corporate data miners haven’t done anything malicious with your information yet, so, personally I can’t blame companies for trying to sell me things and feed their kids with any profits they may receive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • efekete January 26, 2015 / 3:31 am

      @lewenzel93 I totally agree. Consumers now have a lack of knowledge concerning their internet footprint. You can easily block ads or reset your browser after surfing the internet. I think most traditionalists get upset when someone figures out how to make money off perviously disregarded info. Consumers now what specific products, and with the internet having unlimited options, you have to narrow down your searches somehow. I find it interesting every time I log into my amazon account and they suggest music or products based on past purchases, its completely hit or miss.

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  22. thegradytrain January 26, 2015 / 4:20 am

    I have to say your blog post was very well done, I really enjoyed your use of pictures. It made me really think of the duality of cookies. Cookies are one way websites track your usage, and they have both good and bad qualities to them. They can take up space on your computer and pose a potential privacy threat. On the other side, cookies help keep your internet browsing more convenient, they allow sites to remember you and if you are on a private computer this is convenient because go back to some sites and not have to worry about logging in because the site remembers you and it automatically brings you back logged in. Cookies are one of the main ways websites can monitor its users, usually for the better, because it allows the website access to usage statistics that can help make the website better. The issue for me is when that usage data gets out to other people who use it to make money. I know it’s a business, but the fact that some stranger knows certain things about me uses that data to manipulate my online experience really bothers me. It is more of an annoyance more than anything. It really does annoy me when I get “recommendations” or targeted ads that are not relevant in any context to me.

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  23. akuelbs January 26, 2015 / 4:33 am

    There is no problem with PRISM as long as it is being used for what it is intended for. The only problem i have is the fact that our computer keeps cache data and cookie to make browsing speeds on internet faster. So say i went to youtube’s homepage and searched some videos, my computer will keep a cache file so if in the future i go back to youtube, it can look up this cache file and load at an even faster rate. Corporations are using our cache and cookie file on our computer to make smart ads and show us what will most likely fit our wants and needs.
    I don’t think what corporations are doing is wrong at all, they are trying to reach more consumers and make more money. Its the fact that us as consumers are allowing for this information to be so easily accessible is what people might not realize. You can relate these files that companies put onto our computer with viruses, keyloggers, and trojans. If we are scared about companies putting these things on our computer, then just stop using the internet all together. People need to be more mindful of what they are doing on the internet and to stay on trust websites. Knowing smart browsing practices and information saving could be a very good practice. Getting informed, changing passwords, and clearing out browsing data so it doesn’t just sit there for all eternity are good starts down the correct path to being more safe if people are afraid of these files companies are putting out there as being harmful.

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  24. rmpaulk January 26, 2015 / 4:52 am

    I mean, I understand that what they are doing isn’t “harmful” and that it is just creepy. They are trying to make a living and to sell you products you would like and might not have heard of otherwise, but again it is still creepy. I feel it would be better if we, as the consumer, go to choose what companies get our information, if any at all. We should be able to “subscribe” to them, instead of everything being handed to them. They are making money in two-folds. They are buying and selling my information AND THEN I am being introduced to their products and buying from their companies. Where is my gain, besides finding new products to make my life “easier”? Is there a way I can sell my own information or make some kind of profit off of it? And do these companies have a limit on how far they are willing to go in order to make a living? Where is the line? I just feel that if the dollar amount is high enough, and it’s not their own personal information that they are selling, they could eventually sell my info to anyone. Disgruntled workers could publish my info at any time. It all just sounds dangerous.

    I also really love your use of animation in order to make the topic more inviting and entertaining.

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  25. elrader2015 January 26, 2015 / 8:18 pm

    First and foremost, I just want to say that I really like your use of the cartoons- They’re both funny and relevant! As for the data mining, I find it more annoying than I do a threat generally speaking. If the data mining truly is only being used for government use to ensure security, then why not? After all, if I’m googling how to make a bomb or how to get away with an assassination, then there is a good possibility I’m up to no good and need to be investigated. What I do find irritating however is the marketing side to data mining. Before data mining, there were telemarketers who would use your phone number as a means to make a living by calling and trying to sell something so this idea of using personal information to market isn’t new. Because I’m interested in the hidden agenda and harmful effects of marketing, I’m irritated that these agencies have yet again found another way to market to us. One ad I see regularly (and the only reason I can imagine it is because I shop sports apparel and look up athletics online) is this new miracle drug that is supposed to give you a model figure in X weeks. As a woman, I am bombarded by media and marketing enough in my daily life that I don’t need even more ads doing this while I’m simply surfing the web. It is because of this that I find data mining more of a nuisance that anything else, but of course I’m sure our information is being used for more than the government and other agencies are letting on.

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