Online advertisers are selling you out

Data mining companies like Rapleaf exist to build profiles of Web surfers. They know more than you think -- or privacy policies allow -- and it's high time for this data siphoning to end

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Contrast that, for example, with Google's response after discovering its Google Street View vans had accidentally slurped up email and Web surfing information from open Wi-Fi networks:

We work hard at Google to earn your trust, and we're acutely aware that we failed badly here. So we've spent the past several months looking at how to strengthen our internal privacy and security practices….

We are mortified by what happened, but confident that these changes to our processes and structure will significantly improve our internal privacy and security practices for the benefit of all our users.

I suspect Rapleaf will soon be on the business end of some privacy lawsuits. I also predict that after the dust settles it will quietly change names and continue collecting data in more or less the same fashion -- until somebody else uncovers more data "mistakes" or Congress does something real about Internet privacy. (Don't hold your breath for that one.)

Can Congress possibly pass a law on Internet privacy that doesn't simply make things worse? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "Online advertisers are selling you out," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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