Privacy? What Privacy?

It is unusual for the popular (as opposed to technical) press and particularly for The Wall Street Journal to publish a multipart series on the topic of privacy. But the WSJ did it in “What They Know: A Wall Street Journal Investigation” And I think they did a pretty good job. You can find the published articles and related resources at

The first article, which appeared in the July 30, 2010 issue, is by Julia Angwin and has the title “The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets.” It describes how information about one’s Web activities is captured, packaged and sold for marketing purposes.

The second article, written by Nick Wingfield appeared in the August 2, 2010 issue, with the title “Microsoft Quashes Effort to Boost Online Privacy.” Wingfield discusses how Microsoft chose to provide customer information to advertisers rather than protect customer privacy when it came to designing and deploying Internet Explorer 8.0.

A third article, in the August 4, 2010 issue, is by Emily Steel and Julia Angwin, and has the title “On the Web’s Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only.” It is about how data describing individuals’ online behavior are used to profile such persons, namely all of us, and sell that information so that companies can target their marketing more accurately, similarly to what was described in the first article, mentioned above.

The fourth article, appearing in the August 5, 2010 issue, takes a somewhat different tack. It is by Justin Scheck and has the title “Stalkers Exploit Cellphone GPS,”  Scheck describes how GPS and other forms of tracking, which have many positive uses, are also exploited by individuals who have violence in mind, to locate their victims.

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