When talking about privacy & surveillance, lots of people say “eh, what’s the harm?  I don’t care if Google knows it’s my birthday today” or “why should I worry, I haven’t broken any laws”.


The Atlantic has a summary of a FANTASTIC paper by Prof. Ryan Calo on harm caused by incessant tracking by corporations.

See http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/08/what-does-it-really-matter-if-companies-are-tracking-us-online/278692/


My 3 favorite examples:

Because every website tracks you constantly, and a small handful of providers (Google, Facebook), control the online ad market, they can


–          Automatically shows ads for UPCHARGING men for flowers a day AFTER your anniversary

(married guys, you’ve been warned!)


–          Showing predatory ads based on your education and economic status

e.g. encouraging people to get overly expensive or overpriced loans


–          Encouraging price discrimination is wider areas of commerce

We already know that every seat on an airplane was sold at a different rate.

How would you feel about paying a different rate for every book, movie, hotel reservation, toothpaste, etc?


Mass surveillance and big data combined allow very, very niche targeting and allow firms to extract the most amount of money from individual consumers.


So, while you may not worry about your privacy rights, how do you feel about Internet Highway Robbery?