You Are Being Watched — Internet Data Mining
By John Herd
“Scraping” is the practice of collecting personal information about people from the Internet.
The technology may be improving but the phenomenon is far from new. Various forms of scraping have been going on for a long time.
Well over a decade ago I began warning online PWCs (people with CFS) that they should consider their online activities akin to living in a glass house.
In the mid-90s I had already begun to hear from a number of journalists and medical researchers that they were using information gathered from CFS related forums as information sources for their work.
So too did I learn from several federal officials that they were very aware of not just online dialogs pertaining to CFS politics, but that they knew of considerable detail about many PWCs and the interplay (arguments, rivalries…) between many PWCs.
On a personal level, during my divorce it came out that the opposing lawyers were aware of and had copies of everything I was writing online.
With the advent of ever more sophisticated technologies, the Internet intrusions into our personal lives is a no brainer; there is a lot of money to be made from it.
We can almost be certain that private disability companies purchase scraped personal data to challenge disability claims. It is a lot cheaper than sending an investigator out to track a claimant, and we know they have done that regularly.
Given that there are few laws protecting our Internet privacy, it is each persons responsibility to protect themself. The Internet is a wild frontier world in which each person must fend for themselves.
© John Herd, ’10
May be reposted with prior permission
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