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Internet surveillance described

In Big Brother, Tech on September 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

By John Briggs

Jeff Chester, who heads the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C., was in Burlington on Thursday to deliver a warning that our personal data and our personal habits are being systematically collected and marketed for corporate and political gain.

“Powerful forces,” he said, “are shaping the future of the Internet and other digital media.”

Chester was invited to town for two talks, one at noon Thursday at the First Congregational Church and an evening presentation at Champlain College. Sponsors were the Center for Media and Democracy and organizations including Seven Days, the American Civil Liberties Union, Champlain College, the University of Vermont Libraries, Vermont Commons, Front Porch Forum, United Way of Chittenden County and the Vermont Library Association.

Chester warns that money-making pressures are making the Internet perilous for individuals’ privacy. “The technology is Orwellian,” he said.

As that technology collects information minute by minute on each Internet excursion on one’s computer or on social media or mobile phones, it provides insights about our political beliefs and practices, he said.

“We need to understand it,” Chester told a noontime luncheon audience of about 60.

“Surfing” the Web, a description from a decade or so ago, has become an outworn metaphor, as Chester describes today’s digital surveillance world. Surfers leave no trail, we do. Every online key-stroke leaves a trail of websites visited and personal preferences across the spectrum, from entertainment to pornography to medical and financial issues.

Search engines, Web sites, online marketing companies, all “know in real time,” Chester said, individuals’ interests “yesterday, today and tomorrow,” and personally tailored ads can be delivered to users at their computer and soon on TV “in a millisecond.”

A key question, Chester says, is who…

Full article…

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