Junkfood Science: 1984 is now

March 08, 2007

1984 is now

This heart-stopping article isn’t specifically health-oriented, but could most certainly have an impact on our well-being and is worth reading. Achim Schmillen of the Competitive Enterprise Institute writes:

Don’t let Uncle Sam become a computer hacker and identity thief's best friend

Do you remember every Web site you visited, every e-mail you sent and every word you Googled during the last two years? Probably not, but your Internet service provider might -- especially if a popular proposal in Washington becomes law. In September, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called for a law to force Internet service providers (ISPs) to store customer information for one to two years....they want all Internet service providers, search engines and social networking sites to store their users' IP addresses.

Moreover, some suggest also tracking the identities of email correspondents and recipients of instant messages. DeGette once even suggested making this information available not only to the police but also to civil litigants....

In addition to economic harm, governmentally mandated data retention poses serious threats to individual privacy rights. People value their privacy; few intend to save a record of all e-mails written or all Web sites visited. The mandated storage of e-mail addresses, URLs or IP addresses could easily be abused to analyze Internet users' personalities, preferences and habits -- creating a potential jackpot for hackers and spammers.

Even worse, such a data repository would be a treasure trove for identity thieves. A series of recent scandals involving lost or involuntarily published confidential data has shown how serious this problem is....

The Register has more details on this proposed legislation and multiple links to other stories and safeguard breaches here.

But these types of proposals are not just here in the U.S.. Spiegel Online reports on Europe’s Plan to Track Phone and Net Use.

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