It’s not paranoia: they really are spying on you.Some specifics:
— The Already Big Thing on the Internet: Spying on Users, By ADAM COHEN, New York Times, Published: April 5, 2008
The online behavior of a small but growing number of computer users in the United States is monitored by their Internet service providers, who have access to every click and keystroke that comes down the line.Some say privacy is only distant nostalgia; I say we need to do something about it. We need packet privacy.
— Every Click You Make: Internet Providers Quietly Test Expanded Tracking of Web Use to Target Advertising By Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, April 4, 2008; Page D01
Laissez faire won’t get ‘er done. As Cohen writes:
The Federal Trade Commission has proposed self-regulatory guidelines for companies that do behavioral targeting. Anything that highlights the problem is good, but self-regulation is not enough. One idea starting to gain traction in Congress is a do-not-track list, similar to the federal do-not-call list, which would allow Internet users to opt out of being spied on. That would be a clear improvement over the status quo, but the operating principle should be “opt in” — companies should not be allowed to track Internet activities unless they get the user’s expressed consent.Telcos aren’t allowed to spy on your phone calls without a warrant, and ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to spy on your clicks:
The founders wrote the Fourth Amendment — guaranteeing protection against illegal search and seizure — at a time when people were most concerned about protecting the privacy of their homes and bodies. The amendment, and more recent federal laws, have been extended to cover telephone communications. Now work has to be done to give Internet activities the same level of privacy protection.Of course, for the Fourth Amendment to mean anything, we’ll first have to retrieve it from the current administration. Which means we also have to keep them from getting retroactive immunity, which would cover up what they’ve done with it.