Your online life may not seem worth tracking as you browse websites, store content in the cloud, and post updates to social networking sites. But the data you generate is a rich trove of information that says more about you than you realize -- and it's a tempting treasure for marketers and law enforcement officials alike.
Battles have long raged over how third parties can access and use your data. This year, your online privacy faces new threats, as a result of emerging technologies and new regulatory efforts that could affect how your Web-based life is protected... or exposed.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Businesses, privacy activists wrestle over California privacy bill. | Also: Mozilla pulls tracking trigger for Firefox 22, ignores ad industry attacks. | InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely says "Internet privacy is dead -- film at 11" | Learn how to protect your systems with Roger Grimes' Security Adviser blog and Security Central newsletter, both from InfoWorld. ]
Federal law may or may not mitigate the privacy threats. Efforts to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) aim to make your online data harder to collect and share. Meanwhile, proposed legislation called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) could make it easier to obtain.
As you watch your privacy being kicked around like a football in a scrum, pay close attention to the following five major threats.
#1: Cookie proliferation
The invisible cookie software agents that track your browsing habits and personal data are likely to multiply in 2013. Advertising networks, marketers, and other data profiteers depend on cookies to learn more about who you are -- and what you may be interested in buying. Unless legislation imposes legal restraints on Web-browser tracking, your system is likely to accumulate more cookies than you'd find in a box of Chips Ahoy.