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Is the 'Do Not Track' Drumbeat Misguided?

I find myself agreeing with +Lauren Weinstein that the "Do Not Track" drumbeat is way overstated. In the privacy realm, companies like Google and Facebook are being held to a far higher standard than brick and mortar companies that have been collecting information like this for years. As Lauren puts it:

"In the brick and mortar world, personally identifiable information like credit card purchases, banking activities and even voting records have long been mashed into a commodity that is sliced, diced and sold. It is literally worth more than the sum of its parts to giant credit reporting firms who control the destiny of anyone who wants to rent an apartment, lease a car or engage in many other kinds of transactions.

"The irony is that the impacts of this bread crumb trail are blithely ignored by most of us since they’re generally not obvious, not “in our faces” so to speak — until you are denied credit or perhaps even a job, that is.

"So is the situation better or worse for us in the digital realm? From the hue and cry over “Do Not Track,” you might think the latter. You would be wrong."

Read Lauren's entire op-ed, and then discuss here.
It's human nature to want something for nothing. But when it comes to web services, this understandable tendency seems to often blossom into...
Steve “berto” Bertolacci's profile photoJordan Henderson's profile photoKerri Coombs's profile photoLiam Quin's profile photo
Totally agree. Look on the kitchen counter at the mail. It is bizarre how people get upset over online advertising data when your name and address (personally identifiable) data can't be tracked online, and yet direct mailers know where you live and everything you've bought.
It does make for some attention grabbing headlines right now to bash +Google over the privacy issues. The ironic part is how Google is the only one notifying people of what's going on.
the real world and its practices, can go fuck itself.

the internet that wasn't its digital equivalent, pre corporate rape.
I never worry about stuff like this, because I know my bank has all my information, and it is probably insecure. In fact, even Chico's has it, because of my credit cards. I choose to live openly.
However I wouldn't group FB and Google on the same boat when it comes to privacy
I agree with you, but I think that the credit bureaus are not necessarily the worst of lot: their focus is (obviously) financial, specifically in terms of risk mitigation for their customers.

Data aggregators such as Choicepoint (which I believe was acquired by Lexis-Nexis) profile individuals to a much more invasive degree, and then sell that information on the open market. Theoretically that is supposed to mean only "legitimate" businesses (whatever that actually means.) It doesn't always work out that way in practice, however. Choicepoint got scammed a few years ago by identity thieves that didn't even need to crack their servers. They just set up a few phony shell corporations and bought the personal information they wanted.

Choicepoint also got hit by burglars that broke into their offices and stole a bunch of PCs. It turned out that they (for some unaccountable reason) were storing vast numbers of personal profiles on their regular office machines. So far as I'm aware, nobody knows if theft was just for the hardware, or the contents of the hard drives. Either way, it clearly demonstrated the danger of large, poorly-secured databases.

Personally, I think the business of data aggregation should be illegal, at least when used as Choicepoint was doing it. It's one thing for a Google to datamine user's information for the express purpose of targeted advertising: you know it's happening, and you can choose not to use their "free" services. It's something else entirely when those profiles are directly sold for profit.

So yes, given the sheer size of an operation like Google, or Microsoft, or a Lexis-Nexis, and the risks when their data stores are compromised, I think it's entirely correct that they be held to a higher standard.
Let me argue for the other side. I was taught by my father to not draw attention to yourself and you will decrease the chances of becoming a victim. Can we really be sure the information we are trusting to these companies won't be sold out the back door to a malicious person or any of the other ways it could fall in the wrong hands? We are dealing with something here that is unprecedented in history. It is way to easy to collect and aggregate information on someone and use that information in ways that only greed could come up with. I am ok with your right to be tracked, all I want is a way to opt out if I don't want to be so easily tracked. That is one of the advantages of traveling in herds - we hope that someone else will be the victim not us.
At least it's a feature I can turn on or off. I would be annoyed if it was something I couldn't toggle. I actually want Google to keep track of my information. For a while I was scared I wouldn't be allowed to let them track me, which is crazy. If privacy is a user's choice, then let the users choose to not be private.
Really good point, it has been put in a database for years and logged for years before that. I think the fact it is all so RIGHT NOW in results to our personal lives that is the problem. Maybe a, you may not use this information for a week or two, type law, may make us all feel better about it.
June M
Try your bank, insurance company, credit card companies any charity you've donated to talk about sharing a family meal on your info :) but I guess this is getting to the tipping point of awareness now.
The part where the tracking involves adding code to your system that follows your moves after you leave a site has to be something that can be controlled. It's not the analyzing of my personal data (I buy into the anonymity of percentages -- and can't believe anyone wants to know me personally, just my category of people) as it is the relentless bogging down of my systems.
I resent the existence of all this stuff as 'web services'. I really resent the fact that my phone relies on third-party web-services.

I've been running always connected 'web services' on my home computer for years. I should be able to run my own versions of these services and have them link in an intelligent way with the stuff other people have online.

I'm upset over the use of network effects to almost force me into using a particular service and giving it valuable data in order to communicate with my friends. It is parasitizing my social network, and I'm not happy about it in the least.

I don't necessarily thing 'do not track' is a particularly good idea. But I really resent not having a choice because of a choice my friends made.
Yeah, maybe brick and mortar do track people. Does it make it right? Internet can take tracking to the stalker level in no time. Anybody could have a database on your whereabouts. I do not have an answer but I think that we all should think hard on this and other digital issues. And from a humane, not corporate business, standpoint.

The internet is the latest tool to fix the world. We should not waste it for the buck.
What we (free market consumers) are having an issue with today isn't really "tracking". The real issue is what we don't know, and what we don't know is always the scariest. There was similar backlash against grocery store chains over their "club card" systems (discount on products in exchange for data on your shopping habits). No one really cares about the grocery store tracking how many bananas they buy, and when. I believe that the concern is that it's not known what they plan to do with the data, and how that might impact us. Might someone see that I've bought enough bananas to feed an entire army of chimps? what might they think? Might I be penalized or judged in some way?

This is all silliness.

I believe there'd be much less of a backlash if we were told exactly what data is to be used (specifically), and exactly how it's planned to be used, and finally, have a mechanism to prove that that's precisely how it's being used. Otherwise, our own imaginations and fear mongering will get the best of us and minimize the ability of the private sector to innovate and create new solutions.
The point should be well-taken. For those screaming about opt-outs, do you always pay with cash? Do you eschew services with a monthly bill attached? Unless you said yes to both if those questions you are being tracked way more than Google and Facebook ever could. 
Great summing-up of the controversy. It's all an ironic echo of the equally ungrounded worries that kept people from doing a credit-card transaction over the Internet, while they cheerfully let somebody earning minimum wage take their actual credit card out of their sight in a restaurant. Would the smiling waiter rip me off? Of course not! But those mysterious Internet people? Scary!
Tim , I couldn't disagree with you more. Past mistakes are never a good reason for future mistakes.

A user of a web site has a right to assume the only person tracking them at that site is the site they are visiting. The internet requires much more trust than a brick and mortar store because you may never be face to face with the owner of the web site, or the owner's agents.

As your phone can browse, and take photos, and indicate location the level of tracking approaches that of being under police surveillance. The tracking Google and other retailers want is the group dynamics and group behavior, but their data source is very detailed down to the individual.

It is okay for Facebook to track me when I engage with Facebook - but I do not want Facebook to track me when I do not engage with Facebook. Same with Pintrest, same with Google+.

We are living in a world where we all leave very detailed digital fingerprints everywhere. Do we not have the right to occasionally run a dust mop over the scene?
What people tend to forget is that the services that are tracking users are usually FREE!! I use google services (most of them) and pay not one cent. What do they get from it? They get to offer me advertisements that actually might be relevant to my interests! It slays me when people whine over perceived issues with FREE services. It's just like people giving negative reviews for android/iOS apps that they downloaded for free.

If you don't like the services or the side effects of the services, don't use them. Go pay a monthly subscription for a digital service that won't sell your data - I'm sure they exist. As for me, show me the ads, I just might click on them.

Sidenote: I approach the internet as if EVERYONE can see what I'm doing. If I am worried about any negative repercussions to my reputation either online or offline, I shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

As far as theft of financial information - this could happen whether we are being tracked or not. My credit card was stolen at a lame souvenir store in Manhattan!

Track me baby!! I like the free stuff.

Edit: Try not to slow my system down while you're tracking.
The "Do not track" submission was of course highly political and is not actually about consumer rights at all. I'm surprised people aren't understanding this, but I've probably said more than I should already ☺
Tracking is profiling is stalking. I am ok with Google offering up ads in return for my "free" search but don't stalk me when I browse the internet. Did you know they even find out which link I clicked on the search results they severed up to me? Is that really necessary? If we don't draw the line somewhere then greed takes over and who knows where this will go. Facebook is such a mess now they should be paying us to visit them My kids and grandkids are there so I have to visit once in a while but I can't wait for a better alternative.
You can't simply be sure that the information is for commercial purposes only. It can be sold and/or provided to governments for political purposes.
+Donald Farmer the reason to want to know which search results people find useful seems pretty obvious to me, and is nothing to do with "stalking". There are plenty of issues around privacy to be concerned about; if helping to improve search results is a problem, use duckduckgo instead maybe?
+Ryan Gilbert Let me just address the isolated issue of what users should expect from free services. Just because it's free does not mean that the service should get away with bad usability, degradation of interface, poor customer service, crappy privacy policies, or any other bad practices.
While you have to remember that when you walk into a store, you typically don't wear a name tag with your home address written on it and a note about where you ate lunch, I do have concerns that "InternetBad!!" fear has made people consider new rules that could do real damage to people who provide free content. (Read:Nothing is free, but many things come damn close) I'm torn.

On one hand, companies like Google want us "accountable" for things we have not done yet (insisting on real names and only allowing Celebrities to have a *persona online). On the other, they want us to not hold them accountable for things they are not doing yet, but could do. Hmm... does anyone sense a double standard?

*A persona is not anonymity. A company like Google can find you easily. A persona is for those who would do evil with your information and identity, yet do not have the tools to figure out who you are, and shouldn't. By forcing real names, they allow people like stalkers to have more information about you than they used to, much more easily than before. All so the "discourse is elevated". BS.

Elevated Discourse=More info on you that they can use to monetize you.
Lauren is quite right, but I'd go farther.

I think people need to stop and think about privacy over all, and what is truly important. The three areas where I am concerned about privacy are my finances, my health records, and my sex life. The first is in the hands of my bank and credit card issuers. The second is in the hands of my doctors and health insurers. Both have strong legal as well as ethical reasons to keep them private. My sex life never gets on-line to begin with.

Like everyone else, I buy goods and services. Like everyone else, ads are one way I find out about things I want to buy. Advertisers all want to get a better idea of what my interests are and what sorts of things they might be able to sell me. Fine by me: the better targeted the ad is, the less time I have to spend weeding out the stuff I have no interest in.

I'm aware of the advertising eco-system that fuels the Internet, and pays for the free on-line services I use. I'm aware that advertisers place cookies on my machine. I am aware that it is possible to track my movements on line. If I follow a link on one site that sends me to another, the site I am sent to will know where I came from.

I don't care. This simply tracks the fact that a machine at a given IP address made the following stops on line. Advertisers are interested in my behavior in the aggregate. They don't care about me as an individual.

And in a way, that's the underlying issue. Most of the concern I see over Internet tracking is not based in any real practical concerns. It stems from feelings of being helpless and powerless, and unable to control our lives. They don't matter, and nobody cares about them.

Years back, when GMail was still in beta, a chap on a mailing list I'm on was working for Google and offered GMail invites. Another list member was deeply concerned, because if she took the offer, Google could read her mail. He simply explained that the things that read the mail were algorithms scanning for keywords so Google could serve up hopefully relevant ads. I bit my virtual tongue, and didn't say "Perhaps they could, but why on Earth would anyone at Google bother? Who are you? You will simply be one of potentially millions of users. What would make your mail worth a human at Google's time? Nothing."

The same is true for me. I don't care if anyone at Google reads my mail. Unless they are me, they will be mystified or terminally bored. If it's that private, I either don't say it in email, or I use GPG. The same holds true for my web surfing. None of the places I go or things I do are things I'm normally concerned with keeping private. On the odd occasions when they are, well, that's what Tor is for.

I think much of the concerns over online privacy are misplaced, based on failures to understand the nature of the system and to prioritize what is really important.

Want to track me, advertisers? Go right ahead. You won't be able to track me to anyplace I don't want you to know about, and in the meantime, you might sell me something.

I do have the control that really matters.
+Dennis McCunney You're right, most people feel uneasy and scared about being tracked without having ANY idea what they are scared about.It's a diffuse feeling, not based on specific cases of how the data might be misused and harm them

An reagarding importance: in most people's lives (at least in my life) very, very, very few things happen, that would cause a problem if they were posted to the front page of major newspapers. And the things that would be problematic ... shouldn't be posted to facebook, or twitter, or Google plus in the first place.

It would be interesting to hear from someone on the 'other side' what their problem with tracking really is. What is it they worry about?
+Ralf Skirr Have you ever been in debt and failed to make a payment, had a credit card cancelled... and then had a call from an insurance firm or from another credit card company or from the electricity company saying they will no longer give you credit or insure you?

Have you ever bought a book about homosexual relationships and then not been allowed into your church?

Have you ever spent a few days searching for medicine for your mother-in-law, only to be contacted by your family doctor?

The first of these already happens; the others are on their way.

However, "Do Not Track" won't actually make any difference, so from that point of view it's about people in a situation where they are obviously and tangibly threatened by something they cannot undesrtand.
+Ryan Gilbert It would be kind of cool if companies like Google and Facebook would add some kind of virtual invoice to their accounts.

Like, what their cost of delivering the services is, and what it would cost the user if they had no way of getting income except selling the services.

I guess Google's electricity bill alone would blow people's minds. :-)

"Dear Google search user, here's your search result. If you had to cover the cost, this search would cost x cents. Feel free to make another search."

"Dear Facebook user. This month we spend x millions on providing the servers and software and staff, so you can have your profile. Feel free to invite more friends."
+Liam Quin Thanks for the examples, something to think about. My personal answer would be 'no', but I get the idea!
A large part of the drumbeat is spread through mainstream media outlets like WSJ, NYTimes and cable channels owned by NBC and such. These people feel threatened by free and awesome internet content, what better way to fight it than spread a good dose of FUD?
People willingly let stores track them to save a few bucks, but social networks can't offer that. Money seems to override principle w/a lot of people.
+Lauren Weinstein glosses over and +Liam Quin does not observe the distinction between companies that compile and resell user profiles, and companies that personalize products or services. Law prof Lori Andrews also completely missed this in her recent interview at I think Lori and Liam raise troubling concerns, but these concerns apply only to companies that share/resell profiles and not to companies that merely use profiles to personalize web sites and ads.
Don't forget that the US is very very different to countries that have privacy laws.
I think I need to disagree with your take - sure, google and facebook are being held to a 'higher standard' here, but right now, they alone already get so much data. Sure, credit agencies can track all the pages where I may have bought something - but they don't know how often I stood looking at the cars in a Ferrari dealership without buying anything. Through ad tracking and the like, google DOES have information about shops and places I looked at.
Also, in the offline life - I have the option of withdrawing cash if I want to go and buy something that I don't want to have on the record, e.g. say I wanted to buy any goods/services that are either highly controversial, or at least 'of ill repute'. Again - in my online life, I don't have that option - any site that uses a tracking cookie or google ads, ... google will learn about - there is no easy individual opt out.

The other point of being held to a higher standard - but isn't that the thing in evolving situations. I wouldn't expect google/facebook to be held at a higher standard continously - I would expect the standards by which we judge to rise with the occasion. What's hitting google/facebook today, will hit brick and mortar places in the months/years to come as well. Isn't that part of human nature as well? There was a time when a husband raping his wife would have been acceptable - it isn't nowadays. There was a time when politicians accepting small bribes would not have been talked about - or would have only got them a "slap on the wrist" - in many countries, that is no longer the case: And that is a GOOD thing!
+Rafael Alvarez While targetted ads may be good to expose you to products you might actually like - they can also have negative side-effects: Ever had your girlfriend shoulder surfing?
...and seeing ads related to and 'products you last looked at' giving very clear hints at what you bought her for her upcoming birthday?

Or - alternatively, whenever she's coming close to where you're sitting at the computer, all of a sudden, you panically close browser windows - which makes her think, you might have something more sinister to hide (even though, it's just about ADS you don't want her to see).

And with targetted ads, you may get these ads on completely unrelated pages - not even where you bought the stuff. (the products you most recently looked at is different in this respect - amazon won't show me the last product I may have looked at on barnes & noble ; or I will need to make some amount of pointless surfing around for other products, just so that the 'actual' birthday product won't show up any more. But even that makes the whole experience stupid (particularly, if in the end you start browsing lots of stuff AT WORK - where you seized the opportunity to buy something for her - and then may end up having to explain to your boss what the f*** you're doing looking around there? (and that is IF you would think of that being 'necessary' while you're still at work - just to give you a cover for when you're back home)...
It's ironic - or at least interesting - that Ghostery blocked 17 tracking cookies when I clicked through to the article.
Maybe in the same manner that the new privacy policy of +Google googl was rolled out, they should do an equal amount of education on how to use the simple tools available like private browsing, to enable people to hide their own tracks add much as they want. In this thread alone, there is quite a bit of confusion between anonymous data aggregation and personal data selling.
Not too long ago, the NY Times magazine ran an article about how Target tracks its customers and how they can figure out a woman is pregnant before she tells anyone. The genie is already out of the bottle on this one.
+Sean Foy if you are concerned when company A sells data to company B, what happens when company C buys company A and B? Why does that legal paperwork remove your concerns? If there was only one company we wouldn't need privacy" I don't believe that's the case.

+Jared Cloud not all cookies are for advertising tracking, of course. They're also used to store preferences. And not everything used for tracking is a cookie.
Personally, I want 'Do Not Track' for both the digital realm and for bricks and mortar companies.
+Ryan Gilbert I'm totally with you. Not only are Google and Facebook being held to a higher standard, they are only able to offer free services (which we all like so much) in exchange for an ad model. If people don't like them, they don't have to use them.

This is unlike credit card tracking, where we already pay in the form of fees (that are taken out of the merchant's cut).

That being said, there certainly are cases where tracking goes too far. But I'd love to see the hysteria toned down, and internet companies made less of targets.

I also agree with all the folks who said that reselling of private information is the real problem. If anything ought to be controlled, that's the heart of it.
Really +Tim O'Reilly You are saying that Do Not Track will interfere with Google's and Facebook's right to advertise to us? That is not the issue. The issue is about our right to remain anonymous. Remember, at the same time that both these firms are aggressively tracking us, they are also forcing us to reveal our true identity. Putting the two together is what worries me.
+Donald Farmer Why do have the expectation that you should remain anonymous and receive free services from Google and Facebook? Their business model is based on our trading preference information for their free services. You can opt-out by not using their services.
True to a point +Jordan Henderson but now that both are so dominant it really would be difficult to do that. Remember both Facebook and Google have their little pieces of applets on just about every major website now, so even if you don't log into their services, your every movement is being tracked and your IP address and header information is enough for them to link each together. This is where free enterprise goes wrong and requires regulation. I am Canadian and we tend to regulate extreme behaviour for the safety of our citizens. The American model is more Darwinian.
Sorry, but I feel strange knowing that Google guesses / collects data not only about my browser & OS, but also my gender, age & other kinds of preferences... Not only when logged-in to Google, but also when I browse unsigned. It is just like +Benedikt Erik Heinen said: when I walk by a Ferrari dealer and lick the glass, nobody knows. So I don't like anybody to know that I went to a Ferrari website, especially when I was logged-out and my online history was disabled. Besides, when I signed into a Google account, I was not aware that the amount of information is so massive. Yes, it is probably written somewhere with a small font, but it really needs to be said in a normal font and at the bottom of page one. I don't want to always assume or imagine what type of information is collected and when. I don't want to stress.

Don't understand me wrong, I'm a big fan of Google and their services. But what bothers me even more than being tracked is the process of opting-out from being tracked by Google & almost 100 of its partners who can process that data: When a company is making the opt-out process difficult, it obviously has something to hide. I don't feel OK with that and I guess that majority of people share this feeling.

It is all about being honest. If Google made the conditions clean & clear for everybody, some users would probably churn away, thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. But I guess majority would keep on with Google, when they'd see that the company is being honest & transparent. People tend to stay with a company that they trust and they tell the good tale to their friends & friends of friends. Do the marketing guys @ Google know that?
+Liam Quin When I buy house insurance from the same company that is already insuring my car, I expect the company to remember my billing address and I'm not surprised if they take advantage of their existing personalized risk model to offer me a price. If there were just one other person or company in the world, you could not expect it to compartmentalize its knowledge about you however much you might 'need' or desire privacy.

The root problem in this scenario you are imagining with the mother of all monopolies is that your relationship with it is wildly asymmetric and it can wield its power against you with no fear of consequences. There would be ramifications far beyond mere privacy, and you would have at most two options: deal with this much more powerful entity, or not.

On the other hand, if someone or some company among many does not respect your desire or need for confidentiality, you could choose to limit your interactions with that entity in order to protect your privacy. You might avoid the entity entirely, or you might only allow it to leak information you're comfortable sharing with the public, or you might reason that it leaks to some limited subset of the world and then you might give it only information you're willing to share with that subset. The point is that you have many realistic choices for dealing with this scenario, and that is why I think it's an important case to consider when thinking about privacy policies.

Putting aside the thought experiments, it's worth keeping in mind that Google and Facebook don't in fact share or sell dossiers with other companies, and they have privacy policies that limit their ability to start doing so. Some of the most alarming criticisms in the news lately crucially depend on ignoring those facts.
It isnt invasion of privacy, it is a service. Don't like it don't use it.
I'm not bothered by custom ads (thanks to ad block). The op ed oversimplifies the issue. I am somewhat concerned about any database building a profile of me. I want to know what it contains and what it is used for, who it is shared with and why, I want to know how long it will be stored and I want to be able to opt out, even if that means not using the service. These are basic features of most privacy laws. IOW, not very radical.

These days it's hard to keep track of who is collecting our information and why. On top of that, governments are pressuring ISPs to collect and store additional information on behalf of the police, "just in case" they need help gathering incriminatory evidence against you. The best way to protect my personal information from unintended use or use contrary to my interests is not to allow it to be collected in the first place, so I have disabled tracking.

Another problem is that it isn't only advertising being customized, it's content too. I have enough on my hands battling our innate human cognitive bias without the whole internet presenting a picture of the world I want to see, rather than the world that is. Here is some food for thought.

(Edited to correct errors generated by Swype's auto-correct. Way to go, technology!)
+Kerri Brown note that Do Not Track is opt-in on th part of the advertisers and Web publishers: your browser can send the header but they're not obligated (today) to do anything with it; they have to write custom program code to handle it, and most haven't. Without legislation most probably won't.

Ad block is making quite a few people re-think their web strategies. My own Web site gives high-resolution out-of-copyright images away, funded by ad revenue, but I'm starting to charge for the images instead. Ultimately adblock and similar features may be the end of a lot of "free" content on the Web. We'll see.
+Liam Quin Advertisers and Publishers really aren't the target of Do Not Track. They tend to be visible, and have links (admittedly, not always easy to find) to their pages that describe their Opt-out process that.

The people Do Not Track is meant to address are your companies like BlueKai ( ) who are all over the web, tracking you as you shop for plane tickets on Kayak, or perhaps home mortgages, and then sell this demographic information to Advertisers and Publishers so they can target you more effectively. And BlueKai is only one of many players in this space.

I work for an Online Advertiser, and while we haven't taken any action on Do Not Track just yet, we are investigating it. Ultimately, I think it's a nice idea, but all it will do is put the well-behaving trackers at a disadvantage moving forward, since it's largely invisible who is buying data from whom on the backend of this marketplace. Perhaps legislation could give this teeth, but I, personally, doubt it will prove effective.
+Liam Quin We have other tools. Our ISP uses a rotating IP address, cookies are off, we use Ghostery and delete our browsing history after every session. I'm also on the lookout for new ways to monetize content, but I'm not sure asking users to pay for content is the best answer when the competition is "free".

I don't think enough people are concerned about privacy for my personal use of anti-tracking strategies to make any difference to the big picture. Collecting and selling personal information is a booming industry even without my support.
+Steve berto Bertolacci Now, that's a real problem and probably should be made illegal. Many people have few choices in ISPs and if they are all selling your information, that's not something we can opt-out of or avoid by not using their services.
+Steve berto Bertolacci I'm pretty sure ours doesn't, but I will check. They are pretty small. Also, with the use of rotating IP addresses it wouldn't be personal information, as far as the legal definition goes.
Just checked. They don't monitor our activity except as necessary to maintain their network and they don't resell customer information. Lightspeed (western canada) in case anyone wants to switch.
The seductive inducement any terrorist organisation can offer is that initiates become "someone important." But an important blackmailer or extortionist is not a force for positive change, but rather a tool of tyrants.

There's a good reason why there's a ten-year prison sentence for people who "use" denial of service attackers [10yrs in Canada, depends on country].

It is not the people who stole the railway tracks and derailed the early trains who are remembered for saving the jobs of the canal workers, it is the people who found constructive ways forward in a world with new technologies in it - whether those technologies were seen as good or ill, there they were.

"Do not track" will not make any real difference itself, but provides a vocabulary for people to misunderstand Google. In this sense it is an obfuscation tactic.
+Liam Quin concern about Google's privacy policy = terrorism? I must have missed a couple steps in your reasoning.

I don't see any feds serving time for their DDOS attacks on Wikileaks. Seems to me this is a better example of a government suppressing free speech than the rule of law.
+Kerri Brown no, that's not what I was trying to say at all. I didn't include the name of the previous commenter to whose comment about Anonymous I was replying. I do agree with you that the government needs to have the same rules applied to them as anyone else (it's part of why the death penalty is unacceptable in my view, too).
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