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How Your Username May Betray You

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-are-a-number-not-a-name dept.

Privacy 308

An anonymous reader writes "By creating a distinctive username—and reusing it on multiple websites—you may be giving online marketers and scammers a simple way to track you. Four researchers from the French National Institute of Computer Science (INRIA) studied over 10 million usernames—collected from public Google profiles, eBay accounts, and several other sources. They found that about half of the usernames used on one site could be linked to another online profile, potentially allowing marketers and scammers to build a more complex picture the users."

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308 comments

Uh... (4, Informative)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201192)

Couldn't they already do this with cookies?

In other news.. the gentleman wielding the running chainsaw could probably kick you really hard with those steel toe bootsand maybe even poke you in the eye!

Re:Uh... (2)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201302)

yes, but for those who activley disable cookies, this is potentially another way of tracking that few people would have thought about.

Re:Uh... (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201448)

Also, those who use one service from one machine, and a different service from a different machine, in which case cookies won't track you.

Re:Uh... (3, Informative)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201458)

There was an article [eff.org] on Slashdot [slashdot.org] a while back about a clever project [eff.org] to track your browser regardless of cookie settings / IP address. Neat stuff.

Re:Uh... (3, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201480)

this is potentially another way of tracking that few people would have thought about.

Sure, if you're braindead. Did you really think that if you use a non-unique identifier across multiple sites that it couldn't be used to track you? That's about as 'duh' as it gets.

Re:Uh... (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201606)

Yeah, I'm pretty disappointed at the histrionics here too. I'm not l33t enough to triple-route honeypot links shielded by a clandestine shadow router batched through a clandestine ISP installed behind the volcano damaged area of Monserrat and hooked through 7 false-positive generating mirrored proxies. (Your pointy headed bs may vary.) So I settled for a simple two level shield enough to stop the worst spam which has worked well enough for 7 years.

But having a single net identity also lets fans follow my "net brand" across services. For the next x years that's more valuable than the farther-back risk of ad tracking. I am pretty tame. I garner I have under ten rated-R posts across a thousand on the brand.

But 12-ish years from now (+/- 3 or something) we'll all be at Minority Report anyway and once that level kicks in you'll never get rid of it.

Re:Uh... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201444)

Couldn't they already do this with cookies?

Wait, is that true? Can, for example, Slashdot see that I've been visiting eBay? I

Re:Uh... (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201488)

slashdot could see if you were visiting ebay by exploiting the browser a bit -- they could make an invisible link to ebay, then pass back which color your browser made it. red link means you were there before. i dunno if they fixed this somehow, yet.

Re:Uh... (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201614)

slashdot could see if you were visiting ebay by exploiting the browser a bit -- they could make an invisible link to ebay, then pass back which color your browser made it. red link means you were there before. i dunno if they fixed this somehow, yet.

Okay... Leaving browser exploits out of it for the moment, though, isn't cookie access restricted to the domain that set it?

I mean, the whole point of the story is that people use the same username all over the place. This makes them trackable without any sort of exploit, and not in a way that has anything to do with cookies.

Now, if that's just pointless fearmongering, well I understand that. But I did, however, stop using my more identifiable nickname on Slashdot because I didn't want my professional colleagues finding my petty (yet epic) squabbles here on Slashdot. Seems to me that there is some wisdom in the idea of using different names on different sites.

Re:Uh... (2)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201544)

Can, for example, Slashdot see that I've been visiting eBay?

If it couldn't before, it can now >xD

Re:Uh... (3, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201686)

Yes.

Now, I have different usernames for a lot of different websites and IRL I don't have a beard. (I shaved it off in 2004.)

I was looking for a yoga mat; the "community" ones at the gym were a little more... used that I preferred for an item that I touch with my face. I am using IE7 since that's what corporate IT imposes. I was getting ads on /. for yoga classes and cheap yoga equipment. I volunteer at the YMCA and look up the schedule so I know what classes are on on a given day. I got ads for meeting "fitness singles".

I also, due to my work, look up a lot of military things. I was getting ads for martial arts training and "how to handle a handgun" and other things like that.

Apparently the ads computers think that yoga + military + YMCA = gay. I was getting ads for "meet local singles" with pictures of men. It was really weird until I realized that the ad servers think that I'm a fan of sausage. Or maybe they think I'm a woman; I look up vegan and vegetarian recipes and I'll look at knitting patterns to give my wife feedback. Oh, yeah, that makes more sense. They think I'm a woman.

(An ugly one...)

I've also got a quirk whereby the computers at work all go through the servers back east, so it also thinks that I live on the West Coast but work on the East coast; a 7000 mile trip can be covered in 30 minutes with ease.

Re:Uh... (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201506)

I change my username from time-to-time.

For sites where I could care less, I have kept the same "handle" since the 80s, but elsewhere I change my name periodically to avoid being tracked. For example someone looking at my Usenet posts would have to know all ~20 IDs I've used over the last ~20 years to form any kind of profile.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201564)

I change my username from time-to-time.

To what?

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201666)

All your username start with "comodore". You are clever as the "michael kristopeit" troll.

That's why I always use (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201728)

a unique username on every site:

head /dev/urandom | md5sum

Pretty sure (4, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201202)

that my username won't betray me...

Re:Pretty sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201474)

My username is "12345"

Nobody has been able to track me.

Re:Pretty sure (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201634)

What a coincidence -- that's the combination on my luggage!

Re:Pretty sure (1)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201640)

Holy crap, that's the same combination as my luggage!

Re:Pretty sure (4, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201500)

My username on every other site is hunter2, so it just comes up as asterisks anyway.

Re:Pretty sure (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201706)

My username on every other site is hunter2, so it just comes up as asterisks anyway.

I wonder how many caught the reference [bash.org]

Slow news day much? (4, Insightful)

Toksyuryel (1641337) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201218)

I thought this was the whole point of using a unique username. If I didn't want a unique identity, I wouldn't have created one for myself.

Re:Slow news day much? (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201358)

Film at eleven: Identifiers identify entities. I'm SHOCKED!

That's just what I want them to think (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201220)

And when they find me, how will I resist their clever and informative advertising?

Oh that's right, I'll just ignore it like I always do.

Re:That's just what I want them to think (2)

tudsworth (1919278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201296)

Or you don't see the advertisements in the first place because you use a proper browser with decent advertisement blocking. Either way, in this day and age, you can avoid pretty much every scam or advertisement with a little bit of common sense.

Re:That's just what I want them to think (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201340)

And when they find me, how will I resist their clever and informative advertising?
I'm sure there must be plenty of marketeers scratching their heads trying to understand what's this "Anonymous Coward" guy's preferences.

Duh. (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201222)

That's why I have several aliases I use online, and will never use anything relating to my real name. The one you see here is for fairly anonymous forums. I have one that's used strictly for gaming and game related material. I have one that I use for throw-away accounts (spam e-mail, etc). Then I have a few super generic ones that I use for...shall we say... less honorable activities? ;)

Re:Duh. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201836)

less honorable activities

Marketing?

So what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201226)

While this is no doubt true, it is virtually meaningless. How many companies are really going to spend the time, effort and cost to put these things together, on the vague hope that it will somehow magically increase sales?

No Shit (5, Insightful)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201238)

Seriously, that's almost precisely why I've the same username all over place (amusingly, almost except /.) - so that people who know me on one might recognise me on another.

I'd imagine that anyone with a desire to not let anyone know where else they go on the net already gets all their usernames out of pwgen or something.

Who cares? (2)

Berkyjay (1225604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201250)

I mean, we have to accept at some point that we are all in a public place. I for one don't want to have to live life online like a fugitive. Constantly changing my identity and browsing habits just to throw off marketers. And if you are smart you can easily avoid scammers by being more vigilant with your important information.

Re:Who cares? (2)

sulfur (1008327) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201550)

I also don't bother hiding my real identity online; anyone with enough time on their hands and nothing better to do could correlate my accounts across different sites. It's much easier to assume that everything that you post online can be linked to you (similar to an assumption that everything you post on facebook is public). Just don't post anything that you don't want your boss to know, and you'll be fine. Maybe there will be fewer trolls on the Internet this way. Now, of course it is important to be able to post anonymously once in a while, but it shouldn't be a habit.

Do you really want to track (4, Funny)

Ranger (1783) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201254)

someone down named Analintruder?

Depends what you're selling. (1)

Denny (2963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201308)

One sales droid's abject terror is another sales droid's golden opportunity.

Re:Do you really want to track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201384)

I have been for years. So far, no luck.

Re:Do you really want to track (4, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201516)

It shouldn't be that difficult. How many Analin Truders could there possibly be?

Re:Do you really want to track (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201742)

Depends on what you're into, doesn't it?

No problem (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201256)

As long as they can't link my username to my real name, I don't care. They can collect information about "some dude who goes by GameboyRMH" all they like.

Re:No problem (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201626)

Are you sure about that Ronald?

Re:No problem (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201768)

Haha nice try.

Re:No problem (4, Interesting)

georgesdev (1987622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201648)

How about: they start creating a fake account with your user name on facebook, become friend with some of your linkedin contacts, post on your new friends walls a scam using distorted extracts of what you posted on slashdot. Ok, you did a decent job of hiding your true name with that GameboyRMH ID, but still, if you use the same ID on lots of sites, you're still vulnerable to the kind of scenario I mention above. Personally, any online account that is indexed by search engines, I use a fake ID, and move to another one every 2 years, and it's not the same as my email address, etc ...

Johnny Mnemonic says... (1)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201260)

Build a username which uses Acrostics or Chunking of the place you are going.

My Yahoo account is GPLDANJCYS, which stands for me + Jesus Christ Yahoo Sucks.

Then, you know exactly who is leaking and linking your information, and how you feel about them to begin with.

Re:Johnny Mnemonic says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201638)

I have a domain whose sole purpose is to dish out unique e-mail addresses for me. I request a new e-mail, and jot down a note of who I'm providing the e-mail to. Then, if the site in question sells my address, I can see the spam come in and trace it back to who I originally gave it to. The only companies that sold my e-mail have been Sham-Wow and Teleflora.com. All others (hundreds of them) have not been spammed. I am actually quite impressed.

Ummm (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201266)

Hey slashdot, why don't you be ahead of the curve on this and let posters change their username associated with their comments once every few years. Also, being able to delete an occasional comment would be thoughtful too. It's not 1995 anymore on both accounts.

This should be on MSN/AOL homepages, not here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201282)

Surely this should be posted onto the MSN homepage or the AOL homepage for the rest of us: I am sure my mum does not realise how easy her online ID can be tracked from her favourite shopping sites. Although the reception here is 'D'oh!' most people haven't cottoned on to this yet. It is also appalling what passwords people actually use...

Re:This should be on MSN/AOL homepages, not here.. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201578)

Wait until your are done explaining it to her, and some smart ass comes behind you and point out to her that, since marketers are using her username from different sites to link them and track them as the same person, ANYONE could create an account on any porn site on the internet, and user her AOL/MSN name for their account, thus linking her to any activity they do on the porn site. They could be extra helpful by explaining to her that the only way to stop them from using her username on those sites is for her to register it first.

Just wait until you get the call from her explaining that she made a typo, and wants you to help correct her username on 'iwantmyhorseporn.com'.

Oh, and then there are the cookies (5, Informative)

Palestrina (715471) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201290)

And the installed fonts, and the screen resolution and color depth and the dozens of other factors that combined allow you to be tracked.

Try this web site for an idea of how these factors can (in combination) uniquely identify you:

https://panopticlick.eff.org/ [eff.org]

I see that my browser is unique among the 1.4 million tested, with 20 bits of identifying information. Knowing my user name isn't going to compromise my privacy all that much more, especially compared to how Facebook screws your privacy every day.

Re:Oh, and then there are the cookies (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201586)

Fortunately NoScript protects me from those scumbags at eff.org.

Re:Oh, and then there are the cookies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201620)

Or you could go to the effort of installing/uninstalling a few plugins and/or fonts daily, or run NoScript to make sure that (other than sites you specifically trust) most of these tests won't work.

I prefer both.

Somewhat less effective, but easier: run a User Agent switcher and toggle that around (or even get one that rotates randomly).

Re:Oh, and then there are the cookies (1)

Eevee (535658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201736)

And the installed fonts

So you need a collection of fonts you don't like and a script to randomly add/remove them to your system.

. . . common sensical, it seems to me. (3, Informative)

Ethereal.Visage (1990122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201300)

Umm . . . obvious, per chance? It seems to me that this is sort of . . . common sensical. Many people (myself included among that set) use a common username across multiple sites for that very reason mentioned in the article. To enable others to track us via our username. Of course, the intended audience is not the scammers -- oh, sorry, "marketers" -- but rather fellow hackers. But it's a double-edged sword. Perform an action, and the consequences will arrive, knocking on the door in the middle of the night. Welcome to the world, people.

Re:. . . common sensical, it seems to me. (1)

AnttiV (1805624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201422)

Exactly. Like the saying goes: "If you don't want the public to know something - don't do it."

Strong Usernames should - (5, Funny)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201336)

Be at least 8 characters long. Have at least one upper and one lower case letter, a number, a symbol and an RGB code for your favorite color. Oh and change it every 6 months too.

Re:Strong Usernames should - (1)

Rolaulten (1392077) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201616)

And if we want to get really twitchy we can shift every character x characters to the left or the right... OR you know, just set up your web browser to block adds, and use throw away email accounts (thank god for gmail)...Hell this is the Internet, most major websites keep their services for free by selling add space...

How did they get the usernames? (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201338)

Are we looking at a sever breach here if researchers have access to username on Google and Ebay? And what security do they have to keep those lists out of others hands. Probably the student in the University will keep all that information secure...

Yah right.

Re:How did they get the usernames? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201576)

And Slashdot is violating your privacy too! Your username is right there at the top of your comment! How dare they allow anyone who reads your comments to see the username that you created to identify yourself to those reading your comments!

Re:How did they get the usernames? (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201820)

That is true John. But we are looking at what appears to be a data dump of all usernames. To strip usernames is possible in any public site but I suspect they get a feed from those vendors. I could be wrong but the numbers they are looking for and things like google usernames would be harder to find than say Ebay names that could be screen scraped more easily, but then you still have a limited population.

If they have user-names did they have other information to verify they had a match across systems? Open questions.

Are we still beatin' that horse? (2, Insightful)

Ray (88211) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201350)

Give it up. Privacy is gone.

Re:Are we still beatin' that horse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201772)

You can run on down to the prison showers and grab your ankles if you want to. If there is no privacy, then we are but creatures on display at the zoo. Time to tell business and government loudly that we won't tolerate it. Otherwise your just bending over and grabbing your ankles.

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!"--Patrick Henry

Cowboy Neal (1)

aapold (753705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201368)

So does this mean that Cowboy Neal is screwed?

Re:Cowboy Neal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201484)

Every night.

Re:Cowboy Neal (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201696)

By whom?!?

I realised this a few years back... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201386)

When my former high school friends started Googling my alias to spy on me on various websites. From then on, I've used different names on every site I join, and the names themselves are always common enough to be untraceable.

well I know how marketers work (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201408)

plenty of bullshit.

always nice to mess with the data.

Identifiers may be used to identify you! (5, Insightful)

kwerle (39371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201414)

Could we just move tautologies to idle? Or maybe we need a /. section called duh...

Oh damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201424)

I use my slashdot nick on every site I visit.

I'm screwed.

Re:Oh damn! (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201542)

I've been tracking all of your posts my friend and let me tell you, you've been busy!! :)

my advice to you, take a break once in a while :)

I use unique usernames for background checks... (4, Insightful)

kamelkev (114875) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201434)

I work for a growing software company and I have basically used this technique for doing basic background checks on job applicants.

Back in about 2006 we had someone apply who had a distinctive username that returned a handful of results via a careful google search. Almost all of them were to "alt.drugs.bongmaking" or something similar.

I didn't care whether the guy/girl had used drugs, but about the complete lack of discretion in the posts. He had actually used his full name and detailed personal information that positively identified him as our applicant. Really sad, and not the only time something like that has happened.

Isn't that the point? (1)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201440)

That's the point dumb asses. So you market to this useless account that you think you have nailed demographically. Can't sneak nothing past you guys.. And yes I would like a subscription to O magazine because as an older woman I love Oprah.. fucking morons.

If you don't want your actions tracked... (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201442)

...don't get online. Don't post more info about yourself than you want to have distributed. Don't assume your username or password gives you any anonymity. If you're concerned about tracking, use a password manager and use a unique username/password for every site. If you're not that concerned, use 3-5 different user names with different passwords, they may be able to link some of your info, but not all of it.

I'm not sure that's what 'Betray' means. (3, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201450)

You see, that's really THE WHOLE POINT of using the same username in multiple venues. In fact, it's the whole point of having a publicly visible username at all.

It's there to promote continuity between your various posts. It builds a "brand identity", if that's a phrase that you can use without wanting to punch yourself. If that wasn't what you were trying to do then you shouldn't have registered a user name in the first place.

Says you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201590)

You see, that's really THE WHOLE POINT of using the same username in multiple venues. In fact, it's the whole point of having a publicly visible username at all.

It's there to promote continuity between your various posts. It builds a "brand identity", if that's a phrase that you can use without wanting to punch yourself. If that wasn't what you were trying to do then you shouldn't have registered a user name in the first place.

The whole point of having a registered user name is to distinguish yourself on one particular site. What's the purpose of building a "brand identity" when the people following your "brand" on site A don't go to the other sites you post at? The whole point of using the same username in multiple venues is mere simplicity of not having to remember multiple usernames.

More shocked they haven't done this for email (1)

PickyH3D (680158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201494)

I wonder how many people use the same username as their email address.

Honestly, who thinks it would be that hard to go through and scan the internet for usernames, and then append every popular domain name after them.

Add to that the profiles that could be scanned, and combined, along the way, and you can probably find pretty good, targeted ads in a very automatable way.

Re:More shocked they haven't done this for email (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201568)

You don't want effective targeted advertising?

I dream of it, advertisers knowing I am a miserly crank, not directing resources at me at all.

Spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201518)

Spies should be tried and convicted, then lined up against the wall, offered a cigarette and a blindfold and then executed, regardless if they work for a business or a/the government. Such tracking of people by either type of entity is an endangerment to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Anything recorded can be acquired and abused.

What's the big deal? (1)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201520)

Honestly, I don't care. I don't want government to have the power to track me, but if a marketer figures out in his database that the same person who posts on Slashdot also posts on a filmmaker site and a college football site, well, who cares? If I happen to want to do something where nobody can know who it is, yeah, I'll create another identity. But for the vast majority of what I do today, I've taken to using my real name as my user name. I can't figure out why people think a user name "betrays" you because it connects you to something you've said elsewhere. In real life, I already have something like that. It's called my name. So more and more, I'm using it online except in the VERY rare cases I want to protect my identity. This is not rocket science, IMO.

DUH (3, Insightful)

jdharm (1667825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201524)

Its called 'online presence' and it kind of the point isn't it?

Sounds iffy (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201538)

I've used "Cro Magnon" several places, so one could assume it's the same person (especially if I make a referrence to one of the other sites). However, on at least one site, "Cro Magnon" is used by someone else, and my username is something entirely different.

Also, I'm on plenty of sites with totally different usernames.

In other news, the sun rises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201552)

Anyone who has ever tried to stalk a hot girl online - i.e., everyone reading this - has known the username trick for ever. It's so self-evident that I hesitate to even call it a trick.

Re:In other news, the sun rises (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201662)

Speak for yourself... my wife kinda objects to my stalking hot girls online, so I don't do it.

Why would you care about marketers tracking you? (0)

tetromino (807969) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201554)

I do not understand the bizarre European obsession about online marketers tracking people. Sure, there are some things that a reasonable person would wish to keep private (for instance, medical history, finances, and for those living in repressive societies, political and religious affiliation), but why would anyone wish to hide what brand of jeans they like to wear? I for one would very much prefer that marketers and ad networks had a good picture of my product preferences so that instead of ads for mortgage refinancing and painfully unfunny t-shirts, I would get advertisements for things that I might actually be interested in.

Re:Why would you care about marketers tracking you (1)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201674)

It isn't just Europe.

The WSJ ran an entire series of articles about scary analytics and their evil quant masters. NPR "Fresh Air" then ran an hour long episode quoting the WSJ. The horror! I was shopping for shoes and then shoe adverts started popping up! Dammit, they know EVERYTHING!

Re:Why would you care about marketers tracking you (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201682)

why would anyone wish to hide what brand of jeans they like to wear?

Because it's none of their business?

I for one would very much prefer that marketers and ad networks had a good picture of my product preferences so that instead of ads for mortgage refinancing and painfully unfunny t-shirts, I would get advertisements for things that I might actually be interested in.

There are ads on the Internet?

Re:Why would you care about marketers tracking you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201684)

The EU has strong data protection laws. If you cannot comprehend why, that's your problem.

Oh p-lease! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201572)

WHO CARES! Should we all just unplug our computers and go cower in a corner, afraid some advertisers might profile us, or a scammer might track us? Oh my. YA KNow.... isn't the solution just a little obvious? Why did this subject even make it to /.???

So let them....! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201574)

If someone sees that I buy a lot of stuff from bestbuy, and that I am a programmer because I have accounts on sqlserver.com and vb.net mag .com and also see i post a lot about tech stuff on /., etc...etc... guess what , they wont bother sending me spam about viagra, they will send me spam about the latest tech stuff for sale, which is just fine by me....allows less spam making it's way into my mailbox....

Re:So let them....! (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201784)

Don't look now but you just admitted to being a VB programmer on /.

Prepare yourself for heaps of abuse.

Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201582)

Crap, they're on to me...

Easily avoidable (3, Insightful)

Virtex (2914) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201592)

This kind of tracking is easy to avoid. Just do like me and never post on discussion forums like this one.

ORLY? (1)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201642)

This may shock you but I am neither mexican nor little

Re:ORLY? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201744)

And I am neither an annoying Indian pop singer, nor a Japanese goddess.

Or it could show sites betraying /. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201656)

i googled my /. username and found more than one site duping /. articles:

http://jetlib.com/news/tag/earth/page/20/ [jetlib.com]
http://pubsub.com/Puck-Daddy-Mini-Doc-Talking-2010-NHL-Draft-and-dream-cars-with-Taylor-Hall-Tyler-Seguin-and-Cam-Fowler-Sunny-the-Sun-n-cpTsvVWHWnSS [pubsub.com]

plus a lot of other stuff i knew would be found if anyone did that. so i don't feel betrayed at all.

Not new (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201668)

Same problem also exists with people. I don't necessarily want people to track me down all over the web. Easy fix though:

$ cat /etc/mail/aliases | grep -i $USER | sort | uniq | wc -l
154

Randomly generated password for each.

My name is Lee... (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201694)

Thats right, that Lee :)

what about advantages? (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201716)

My reputation is too important for me to want to change my nick just to avoid marketing. It's useful for recruiters or prospective employers to be able to do a quick search and find out more about me. It's like an implicit and well-earnt LinkedIn.

I am Spartacus (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35201782)

I cover my tracks by using my username everywhere, registering for places I don't go, subscribing to magazines I don't read, and I buy everything, from ladies slacks to chain mail. I join groups I disagree with, donate money randomly, buy clothing that won't fit me, bid on items I don't really want, all to confuse the heck out of these people who want to know about me. A person who comes from everywhere comes from nowhere at all. If everyone got cookies from every website, we'd ALL be Spartacus. That's my plan anyway, if I wasn't so lazy.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201802)

This anonymous fellow sure is busy. Reviewing stuff, taking on big government, and trolling on slashdot.

So what! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35201838)

So, why is this a bad thing? Anyone who doesn't know that everything you do online is public hasn't been paying attention ;-)
Waiting is...

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