Privacy: When Will They Learn?

Washington Post: Firm Tracking Consumers on Web for Drug Companies. “In the future, we may develop products and services which collect data that, when used in conjunction with the tracking database, could enable a direct identification of certain individual visitors,” it says, adding that they would never take advantage of such information.

Yeah, right.

The pure cynicism of these people is enough to make me throw up. The value of the data grows when it’s tied to individuals. It’s not in this company’s interest to do the right thing — all of the pressure will be to invade privacy.

When will Congress do something about this? Watch the campaign contributions from the medicine and (legal) drug industries. Privacy isn’t on the corporate agenda, because it’s less profitable than invading privacy. So you have to believe it’ll never really make it onto the government’s agenda, not in any serious way.

Bill 602P

I keep getting panic-filled e-mails warning me that “Bill 602P will permit the Federal Government to charge a 5-cent charge on every delivered E-mail” — despite the fact, which should be well known by now, that THIS IS A HOAX, as the superb Urban Legends Web site notes.

It’s really baffling that people keep falling for this. Or maybe it isn’t.

The mistrust Americans feel for government is not diminishing despite the robust economy and overall better times in this nation. One reason is that governments continue to do foolish things — and fail to do sensible things, e.g. passing a law (see item above) to protect our privacy from the data-mining maurauders. So even a ridiculous idea like “Bill 602P” wins credence despite its blatant falsehood.

Anyway, if you get an e-mail about Bill 602P or some variant, please do us all a favor. Delete it and let the sender know it’s a hoax. Thanks.

Politics Online

The Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles is proving to be just as vacuous as the recent GOP gathering in Philadelphia, and Web coverage is distinguished by its sameness. (I did watch a tape of President Clinton’s speech last night, and thought he made a pretty good case for his administration’s record on the economy.)

The best commentary I’ve seen about the online convention coverage is from the National Journal: Internet Avenue: Boulevard Of Broken Sewers. Two excerpts:

  • During GOP convention week, there was a 14 percent drop in traffic at the four most popular online news sites —,,, and — according to a report by the Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
  • The most telling moment was when Esther Dyson, the Internet guru, said we have to stop thinking about the Net as a publishing medium. Publishing goes in one direction, she said, but Net communication goes two ways.

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