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How Websites Know Your Email Address the First Time You Visit

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the dark-sorcery-and-a-disregard-for-privacy dept.

Privacy 184

An anonymous reader writes "Darren Nix works for 42Floors, a business that uses its website to help people find office space. He recently received a marketing email for a service that offered to identify visitors to his website. After squeezing some information out of the marketer and playing around with a demo account, he now explains exactly how sketchy companies track your presence across multiple websites. The marketer offered to provide Nix with 'tracking code that would sit in your web site' which would 'grab a few key pieces of data from each visitor.' This includes IP addresses and search engine data. The marketer's company would then automatically analyze the data to try to identify the user and send back whatever personal information they've collected on that user from different websites. Thus, it's entirely possible for a site to know your name, email address, and company on your very first visit, and without any interaction on your part. Nix writes, 'A real-world analogue would be this scenario: You drive to Home Depot and walk in. Closed-circuit cameras match your face against a database of every shopper that has used a credit card at Walmart or Target and identifies you by name, address, and phone. If you happen to walk out the front door without buying anything your phone buzzes with a text message from Home Depot offering you a 10% discount good for the next hour. Farfetched? I don't think so. ... All the necessary pieces already exist, they just haven't been combined yet.'"

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184 comments

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10% ? Great (5, Insightful)

coinreturn (617535) | about 2 years ago | (#42259571)

When this scenario plays out, I will gladly walk into and out of every store if I can expect a 10% off coupon for doing so.

Re:10% ? Great (5, Insightful)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | about 2 years ago | (#42259611)

When this scenario plays out, I will gladly walk into and out of every store if I can expect a 10% off coupon for doing so.

*Some restrictions apply...

Re:10% ? Great (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259675)

When this scenario plays out, I will gladly walk into and out of every store if I can expect a 10% off coupon for doing so.

Please. You shop online today, and that is because online prices beat B&M by 20 - 30%, along with the usual benefit of no sales tax.

Who you foolin' with a statement like that?

Re:10% ? Great (1)

Kocureq (1191079) | about 2 years ago | (#42259811)

Starbucks online? :) I still want my 10%. I prefer to pay by giving my email address than by real money.

Re:10% ? Great (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#42260281)

I prefer to pay by giving my email address than by real money.

Then you are a fool.

Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

rtaylor (70602) | about 2 years ago | (#42260629)

I have an infinite number of email addresses (and blocking capabilities). I have a limited amount of real money.

For 10% off a fridge you could regiter a dozen domainnames.

Re:10% ? Great (2)

Kookus (653170) | about 2 years ago | (#42260657)

You'd be a fool to think you can stop it.
Just as with the music industry trying to stop pirates, consumers trying to stop the collection of personally identifiable information by companies is just as futile.

They make money by doing that. They like making money... Ergo - fill in the blank.

Re:10% ? Great (3, Interesting)

Osiris Ani (230116) | about 2 years ago | (#42260881)

I prefer to pay by giving my email address than by real money.

Then you are a fool. Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I generate a new email address on one of my domains for every new interaction with a new vendor. The process requires approximately ten seconds of my time, and that address could vanish just as easily. The net savings outweighs the net cost by a hefty margin.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

Kocureq (1191079) | about 2 years ago | (#42261041)

And some don't value their privacy too much. I don't. You might say this is foolish, but that's just a personal choice - I prefer price discount over hiding with what I like to eat / buy.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#42261557)

And some don't value their privacy too much. I don't. You might say this is foolish, but that's just a personal choice - I prefer price discount over hiding with what I like to eat / buy.

Well, just wait till the insurance industry, and govt healthcare (it seems to still be coming) get more interested in using this information to build a profile on your for if nothing else the cost of your health risk? Do you buy cigarettes? Much alcohol? Wow...lots of junk food on your bill, not much in the way of healthy veggies, yep, you're a health risk and may be treated as such for either treatment, or maybe insurance costs.

That's just one scenario, but enough to scare the heebie jeebies out of me.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

Kocureq (1191079) | about 2 years ago | (#42261923)

I live in Poland. Govt Healthcare costs the same for everyone. I don't smoke or drink a lot of alcohol. Only thing that can "punish" me for information about me is car insurance, but they're far from being that technologically advanced. Doesn't scare me at all. Maybe future generations will see that, but in reality, I just gain from the lack of privacy for now.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42261401)

What's the value of a throw-away email address?

McDouble: $1.08
Starbucks Coffee: $7
BP: $1.30/gal
Throw-away email address: priceless

Re:10% ? Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42262359)

Where the heck is the $1.30/gal gasoline?

Re:10% ? Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261023)

Please. You shop online today, and that is because online prices beat B & M by 20 - 30%, along with the usual benefit of no sales tax.

I shop online today because I can do in a few minutes, possibly at the same time as eating or watching the TV, what would take an hour or more to do by driving to a B & M store. Plus I can do it whenever I feel like it, not when the stores happen to be open for business, and I don't have to deal with fighting through crowds or traffic. I have no idea what prices are in B & M stores at any given moment and I don't care either. I've come to loathe dealing with crowds, unless it involves getting through them to get beer from bikini clad bartenders.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#42261575)

I've come to loathe dealing with crowds, unless it involves getting through them to get beer from bikini clad bartenders.

Wow....what bars in what malls is this at?!?!

Re:10% ? Great (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42259729)

no shit

geeks are so dumb sometimes it astounds me. what if i have to buy a new dishwasher? 10% is a nice discount to keep me from going to Lowes

last time i bought appliances i had to show my army discharge papers to get a nice 20% discount. saved hundreds of $$$ that day

Re:10% ? Great (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259857)

Interesting.... Menards gave me a 25% discount when I showed them your army discharge papers.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 2 years ago | (#42261315)

Can I get a copy of his army discharge papers too in order to save 25%? Or are only you allowed to use his papers?

Re:10% ? Great (4, Funny)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#42260127)

Did they give you a 20% discount because you joined the army, or because you left?

Re:10% ? Great (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260293)

Go green: turn off your refrigerator.

Unrelated to this thread - but relevant to the signature:

If you turn off your refrigerator, it is your food that goes green :-)

Re:10% ? Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260583)

mmmm bluer cheese!

Re:10% ? Great (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42259821)

Yeah, except when they cross-reference your income tax records (what, is that illegal, oh nooo...might have to pay a million dollar fine to make tens of millions in profit) and find out that you're not one of their target customers anyway and you don't get the offer.

On the other hand, some attorneys will become wealthy from the fact that this sort of income profiling is inherently racist.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about 2 years ago | (#42259951)

Yeah, except when they cross-reference your income tax records (what, is that illegal, oh nooo...might have to pay a million dollar fine to make tens of millions in profit) and find out that you're not one of their target customers anyway and you don't get the offer.

Idiotic. A sale is a sale. Who cares who buys?

Re:10% ? Great (0)

rvw (755107) | about 2 years ago | (#42260007)

Yeah, except when they cross-reference your income tax records (what, is that illegal, oh nooo...might have to pay a million dollar fine to make tens of millions in profit) and find out that you're not one of their target customers anyway and you don't get the offer.

Idiotic. A sale is a sale. Who cares who buys?

Your mom. Keep that money in your pocket son!

Re:10% ? Great (1)

ccguy (1116865) | about 2 years ago | (#42260381)

A sale is a sale. Who cares who buys?

A sale with a 10% discount is not the same as a sale with not discount. If they have to choose between selling you something with a discount or not selling it at all they'll be happy to give you the discount, however giving a discount to something who have bought the product anyway is just bad business.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about 2 years ago | (#42260883)

A sale is a sale. Who cares who buys?

A sale with a 10% discount is not the same as a sale with not discount. If they have to choose between selling you something with a discount or not selling it at all they'll be happy to give you the discount, however giving a discount to something who have bought the product anyway is just bad business.

No kidding. But that was not the point of the OP.

Re:10% ? Great (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#42261179)

On the other hand, some attorneys will become wealthy from the fact that this sort of income profiling is inherently racist.

WTF?

Re:10% ? Great (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#42261633)

On the other hand, some attorneys will become wealthy from the fact that this sort of income profiling is inherently racist.

Ok, you completely baffled me with this disconnect of thoughts. How exactly is income profiling racist exactly?

I'd not have even thought of mixing race with income profiling till you tried to associate the two concepts, but If thinking about it, I'd dare say there are MANY more poor white people than poor white people in the USA. I mean, there are more whites on welfare than blacks, no?

Re:10% ? Great (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about 2 years ago | (#42259831)

A real-world analogue would be this scenario: You drive to Home Depot and walk in. Closed-circuit cameras match your face against a database of every shopper that has used a credit card at Walmart or Target and identifies you by name, address, and phone.

Some shopping centres already do this and have done for a decade or so now. Used to prevent fraud or let security know of trouble makers.

Re:10% ? Great (2)

MiniMike (234881) | about 2 years ago | (#42260327)

What I'm waiting for is when Home Depot's competitor has a camera scanning the Home Depot parking lot and sending you a coupon for 15% off their store before you even walk into Home Depot.

Re:10% ? Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261659)

Same here. I don't understand what is so horrible about companies offering you discounts on things you actually want. I find it much more annoying to be offered discounts on things I DON'T want (and wasteful, if we're talking about paper coupons and junk mail), and will gladly give my email address as well as my physical address (anyone walking down the street can see that anyway) to save on things I DO want. Track my shopping habits all you want if it means you will save me the time of finding deals myself; then I can use that time for more important things.

Not even Orwell think of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259573)

Writing this anonymously, to check what slashdot is up to here...

Tor (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42259595)

"[...]All the necessary pieces already exist, they just haven't been combined yet.'"

Not me. I'm behind ten proxies and use Tor for everything. I use throwaway e-mail addresses from places like Mailinator. I even registered my gmail account using a hospital courtesy phone... that was in another country. My friends joke that I'm paranoid of the government. No, I could care less about the government... it's all the corporations!

Re:Tor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259601)

*couldn't

Re:Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259633)

*couldn't

THANK YOU!!!

Re:Tor (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#42259699)

I disagree. I could care less about government. There are still coming up with ways for me to care less every day.

Re:Tor (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | about 2 years ago | (#42259809)

I could care less about the government, but it has the power to tax me, and, the less I care, the more I get taxed.

Re:Tor (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#42260813)

Good point well made.

Re:Tor (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#42259691)

>> hospital courtesy phone

Get 20% of bedpans for the next 3 days at webpan.com.

Re:Tor (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260643)

What on earth am I going to do with one fifth of a bedpan? I bet it leaks.

Re:Tor (4, Funny)

Volanin (935080) | about 2 years ago | (#42259703)

I know that you're not a girl... ;-)

Re:Tor (5, Interesting)

usuallylost (2468686) | about 2 years ago | (#42259723)

Not me. I'm behind ten proxies and use Tor for everything. I use throwaway e-mail addresses from places like Mailinator. I even registered my gmail account using a hospital courtesy phone... that was in another country. My friends joke that I'm paranoid of the government. No, I could care less about the government... it's all the corporations!

All of that sounds great for your electronic transactions. Not sure it will help all that much when they start tracking your physical movements through the world and building databases that way. I guess you could wear a variety of disguises, always pay cash, never sleep the same place twice and make your living by pan handling or something. The problem here is that as this stuff becomes more and more pervasive it is going to become harder and harder to avoid. I suspect what we really need is some strict data privacy rules that require people to get opt ins for this stuff. That may be possible in the EU I don't see it happening in the US.

Re:Tor (1)

Ariven (256118) | about 2 years ago | (#42260079)

You just need to get into the habit of wearing face paint/camoflage... http://venturebeat.com/2010/07/02/facial-recognition-camouflage/ [venturebeat.com]

Re:Tor (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42262007)

You just need to get into the habit of wearing face paint/camoflage... http://venturebeat.com/2010/07/02/facial-recognition-camouflage/ [venturebeat.com]

Wouldn't it be easier to recognize "camouflage guy" when he comes into your store vs. ordinary dude? I guess you could try to get everybody to wear ever-changing paint disguises, but I coudn't even get one correspondent to agree to use PGP for their emails with me, so "color" me doubtful.

Re:Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259841)

I'm getting a faint reading on my sarcasm meter, but regardless... Unless you're wiping your cookies and changing proxies between sites, none of that makes a lick of difference. It doesn't matter if you're going through Tor or straight through your ISP, you're Client X connecting to their site with cookies from Site A, B, C, etc. Using a proxy will keep your IP from leading back to your ISP, but it won't keep a website from seeing your cookies.

Re:Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259913)

Using Tor marks you as unusual and therefore a person of greater interest than normal.

It's a good thing you're hiding from corporations and not the government, because the FBI probably already has a warrant for a packet sniffer on your Tor interface node.

Re:Tor (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42259987)

Not me. I'm behind ten proxies and use Tor for everything. I use throwaway e-mail addresses from places like Mailinator. I even registered my gmail account using a hospital courtesy phone... that was in another country.

You have utterly succeeded in missing the point - you are an aberration. The problem here is that normal people, behaving normally, are unknowingly subject to this shit through no fault of their own. We should not need to be randian privacy ubermen in order to have privacy.

These stalking companies are taking advantage of the fact that by default society requires a certain level of openness to function. They are abusing that openness for their own enrichment - they are encouraging people to behave like you and in the long run as more people take similar countermeasures that makes society less functional. In effect they are stealing from all of us by leeching away at the trust that greases the gears of a functioning society.

Re:Tor (2)

mrbcs (737902) | about 2 years ago | (#42260337)

What about Facebook? How many millions willingly give up personal information for free?

There are many companies taking advantage of the naivete of internet users for their own advantage.

Re:Tor (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about 2 years ago | (#42261175)

What about Facebook? How many millions willingly give up personal information for free?

There are many companies taking advantage of the naivete of internet users for their own advantage.

If they give it up for free then that's one thing, if they have no choice in the matter that's another thing entirely.

Re:Tor (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42261349)

What about Facebook? How many millions willingly give up personal information for free?

They aren't giving it up for free, they are trading it for the services facebook gives them.

There are many companies taking advantage of the naivete of internet users for their own advantage.

They do so voluntarily by explicitly entering a contract with facebook when they sign up.

Re:Tor (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#42262285)

You have utterly succeeded in missing the point - you are an aberration. The problem here is that normal people, behaving normally, are unknowingly subject to this shit through no fault of their own. We should not need to be randian privacy ubermen in order to have privacy.

These stalking companies are taking advantage of the fact that by default society requires a certain level of openness to function. They are abusing that openness for their own enrichment - they are encouraging people to behave like you and in the long run as more people take similar countermeasures that makes society less functional. In effect they are stealing from all of us by leeching away at the trust that greases the gears of a functioning society.

You mean companies like Google (who have their G+ +1 buttons everywhere), Facebook (Like buttons), Twitter (Tweet This buttons) etc also?

The only difference between those companies and this one is well, this one's intent is overt - they're doing it for marketing. But Google/Facebook/etc. are also marketing that data you provide as well (how do you think Google knows which site you're +1'ing? Or Facebook knows you Like that site?). And that Google/Facebook/etc offer portals that people are addicted to using.

It really isn't that much different.

Re:Tor (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42262345)

You have utterly succeeded in missing the point - you are an aberration.

Or you succeeded in missing the point: That this is what it's come to and even average people should start considering doing this.

Re:Tor (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#42260305)

If you were straight, or if I was a woman, I'd totally ask you out.

Re:Tor (1)

Pope (17780) | about 2 years ago | (#42260731)

Not me. I'm behind ten proxies and use Tor for everything. I use throwaway e-mail addresses from places like Mailinator. I even registered my gmail account using a hospital courtesy phone... that was in another country. My friends joke that I'm paranoid of the government. No, I could care less about the government... it's all the corporations!

What laughable BS. And yet you still signed up for a Gmail account.

Re:Tor (2)

hAckz0r (989977) | about 2 years ago | (#42261417)

Not me. I'm behind ten proxies and use Tor for everything. I use throwaway e-mail addresses from places like Mailinator. I even registered my gmail account using a hospital courtesy phone... that was in another country.

Unfortunately that may not be enough. They also get the browser fingerprint (app, OS, plugin list including your TOR plugin and version no, and much more...) which is fairly unique statistically, and can say a lot about a person just in itself. If you are not also blocking javascript, cookies, and all web bugs then they already know you uniquely enough to track your movements across the web. TOR is only the "how you got there" part, and they can work around that missing information. They can still get the ID data from the websites when you visit and fill out forms with personally identifying information, and then make some fairly high statistical correlations using that data. If you have even one stale tracking cookie available through your browser then they've got you nailed. In that case your IP cloak behind TOR is meaningless.

btw - Good luck with the Government guys. The advertisers make their job a whole lot easier these days. In fact I would not put it past 'the man' to work out a special deal with them just to track all TOR plugin users specifically, just in case they need all that information on you one day. Like fishing in a barrel when they need that extra bit of information.

Re:Tor (1)

Plasmoid2000ad (1004859) | about 2 years ago | (#42261421)

Are you sure? If you're always using the same browser, with the same addons and extensions installed, same local machine config details being shared... you could have been fingerprinted. It's not 100% accurate, but the more times they see you the more times they can guess your're the same person. Sure, they don't have your email, but they can still stitch together multiple sessions information.

Re:Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261457)

Not me. I'm behind ten proxies and use Tor for everything.

You've covered up your license plate, but that's not going to stop people from looking in your car windows. Using a proxy does nothing to keep websites from retrieving the cookies stored by your browser. They're not looking for your identity, they're looking for the other activities their random visitor engages in on the web. Using a proxy has nothing to do with protecting your cookies, in any way.

Re:Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261721)

No, I could care less about the government

Tell us. How much less could you care?

FF Plugins: (1)

theatreman (931919) | about 2 years ago | (#42259667)

Ghostery and Cookie Controller FTW!

Re:FF Plugins: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259959)

no defence to the topic at hand, do your reading rather then maintain a false sense of security.

A fox is guarding your henhouse... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260003)

Evidon, which makes Ghostery, is an advertising company. They were originally named Better Advertising, Inc., but changed their name for obvious PR reasons.

Despite the name change, let's be clear on one thing: their goal still is building better advertising, not protecting consumer privacy.

Evidon bought Ghostery, an independent privacy tool that had a good reputation.

They took a tool that was originally for watching the trackers online, something people saw as a legitimate privacy tool, and users were understandably concerned. The company said they were just using Ghostery for research.

Turns out they had relationships with a bunch of ad companies and were compiling data from which sites you visited when you were using Ghostery, what trackers were on those sites, what ads they were, etc., and building a database to monetize.

When confronted about it, they made their tracking opt-in and called it GhostRank, which is how it exists today.

They took an open-source type tool, bought it, turned it from something that's actually protecting people from the ad industry, to something where the users are actually providing data to the advertisers to make it easier to track them.

This is a fundamental conflict of interest.

To sum up: Ghostery makes its money from selling supposedly de-indentified user data about sites visited and ads encountered to marketers and advertisers. You get less privacy, they get more money.

That's an inverse relationship.

Better Advertising/Evidon continually plays up the story that people should just download Ghostery to help them hide from advertisers. Their motivation to promote it, however, isn't for better privacy; it's because they hope that you'll opt in to GhostRank and send you a bunch of information.

They named their company Better Advertising for a reason: their incentive is better advertising, not better privacy

---

* After reading that, you MAY want to think about my subject-line above...

APK

P.S.=> I opt for & built, this, instead (since it is cross platform):

---

APK Hosts File Engine 5.0++ 32-bit & 64-bit:

http://start64.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5851:apk-hosts-file-engine-64bit-version&catid=26:64bit-security-software&Itemid=74 [start64.com]

---

Custom hosts files gain me the following benefits (A short summary of where custom hosts files can be extremely useful):

---

1.) Blocking out malware/malscripted sites.
2.) Blocking out Known sites-servers/hosts-domains that are known to serve up malware.
3.) Blocking out Bogus DNS servers malware makers use.
4.) Blocking out Botnet C&C servers.
5.) Blocking out Bogus adbanners that are full of malicious script content.
6.) Blocking out known spammers &/or phishers.
7.) Blocking out TRACKERS.
8.) Getting you back speed/bandwidth you paid for by blocking out adbanners + hardcoding in your favorite sites (faster than remote DNS server resolution).
9.) Added reliability (vs. downed or misdirect/poisoned DNS servers).
10.) Added "anonymity" (to an extent, vs. DNS request logs).
11.) The ability to bypass DNSBL's (DNS block lists you may not agree with).
12.) More screen "real estate" (since no more adbanners appear onscreen eating up CPU, Memory, & other forms of I/O too - bonus!).
13.) Truly UNIVERSAL PROTECTION (since any OS, even on smartphones, usually has a BSD drived IP stack).
14.) Faster & MORE EFFICIENT operation vs. browser plugins (which "layer on" ontop of Ring 3/RPL 3/usermode browsers & are generally written in slower INTERPRETED languages (e.g. AdBlock = python/perl/javascript)- Whereas by way of comparison, the hosts file operates @ the Ring 0/RPL 0/Kernelmode of operation (far faster) as a filter for the IP stack itself which is written in C & Assembly language...).
15.) Custom hosts files work on ANY & ALL webbound apps (browser plugins do not).
16.) Custom hosts files offer a better, faster, more efficient way, & safer way to surf the web & are COMPLETELY controlled by the end-user of them.

---

* There you go... & above all else IF you choose to try it for the enumerated list of benefits I extolled above?

Enjoy the program!

(However, more importantly, enjoy the results in better speed/bandwidth, privacy, reliability, "layered-security"/"defense-in-depth", & even anonymity to an extent (vs. DNS request logs & blowing past DNSBL's) + more, that custom hosts files can yield...)

Of course, THIS is NOT going to "go well" with 3 types of people out there online, profiting by advertising & nefarious exploits + more @ YOUR expense as the consumer:

---

A.) Malware makers & the like (botnet masters, etc./et al)
B.) ADVERTISERS - the TRULY offended ones, as it is their "lifeblood" in psychological attack galore, tracking, & more, etc.!
C.) Webmasters (who profit by ad banners, but fail to realize that those SAME adbanners suck away the users' bandwidth/speed, electricity, CPU cycles, RAM, & other forms of I/O they PAY FOR, plus, adbanners DO get infested with malicious code, & if anyone wants many "examples thereof" from the past near-decade now? Ask!)

---

And, there you go... "onwards & upwards"...

... apk

Highly illegal (4, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | about 2 years ago | (#42259727)

Well one reason why this hasn't been done is it's downright illegal to do so in many countries.

Try this in EU and find yourself in a world of hurt.

RequestPolicy + NoScript (5, Interesting)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 2 years ago | (#42259741)

I've mentioned before that I don't use an Ad Blocker, and yet I rarely see ads. The addons I use (among others) are RequestPolicy, NoScript and Cookie Monster. These three allow me to not be tracked across most websites.

As well, I tend to use unique email addresses (either with Mailinator, or with another domain) for each website I sign up on (I record which email address I use where, and this allows me to track who is sharing my info).

And if I did somehow receive an email that said something like Sumit Suman received, I would be very unhappy with both the party I initially shared the email address with, and the other party. And would cease all business with both.

A commentator at Hacker News [ycombinator.com] says at least one company uses the IP address to get the company and then looks up that company via LinkedIn. Another reason to a) support Tor, and b) not use LinkedIn I guess.
------

Ironically, 42Floors is using Disqus for their comments. This allows visitors to be obviously tracked across websites (at least that use Disqus) and I'm amazed that any privacy conscious person or organization would outsource like that. There are many other tools (e.g. Gravatar) that fall into the same category. In fact, with Gravatar, I can be tracked even if I don't use the service (by not having an avatar with them) because my email address is still sent every time I leave a comment. And I'm sure there are some blog maintainers wondering why they get email addresses of the form webmaster@domain from some of their more insightful commentators.

Re:RequestPolicy + NoScript (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 2 years ago | (#42260961)

Disqus is an atrocity since it requires 3rd-party cookies to be enabled. For those not aware, turning on 3rd-party cookies is like saying "please send all web sites all information about everywhere I have ever been." The only reason to need 3rd-party cookies is bad design.

Re:RequestPolicy + NoScript (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261989)

I've mentioned before that I don't use an Ad Blocker, and yet I rarely see ads.

I don't use an ad blocker, and I never see ads. When I check my cookies, I see only web sites I know I've been to. 26 domains routed to 128.0.0.1 seems to take care of it all: razdrochi.ru advrider.com ads.cnn.com cyberciti.biz digitaltrends.com doubleclick.net googleadservices.com statscrop.com webupd8.org analytics.yahoo.com scorecardresearch.com criteo.com atdmt.com invitemedia.com adnxs.com crwdcntrl.net yieldnanager.com quantserve.com mookie1.com bizgraphics.com exelator.com addthis.com echoenabled.com 2o7.net pointroll.net optmd.com

WHICH IS WHY . . !!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259765)

I change my IP address every week !!

And no, it's not because all those IP addresses get blacklisted here, it's because I NEED to change IP addresses that I GET blacklisted here !! There is a distinction !! And I just made it !!

Now eat ... ah, too soon to change again !!

Re:WHICH IS WHY . . !!! (1)

allo (1728082) | about 2 years ago | (#42259941)

so your dsl-line has only once a week a reconnect?

Disney already does this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259955)

I read recently that Disney does exactly this so that the employees who take your family picture can easily charge your credit card. Cameras around the park ID you using facial recognition, reverse-look up your credit card info from databases and charge that account. http://occupycorporatism.com/disney-biometrics-and-the-department-of-defense/

Who does form post to? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42259969)

TFA says user "fills out a form" but doesn't explicitly say exactly where that form is.

I get all email to any address at my domain, so I tend to put the expected sender's name into whatever address I give them. For example, Amazon thinks my email address is amazon@example.com. So when I go to Target, am I getting a Target form where I submit target@example.com on a form to target.com, which they are then sending to a marketing company or is Target's site sending me to the marketing company's site, where I'm entering marketingcompany@example.com?

If it's the latter, no problem. Either I was ok with that, or I wouldn't have sent the form.

If it's the former, Target is busted, since that's exactly why I use expected senders' names in my email addresses. That's how I know, for example, that Amazon has never "sold me out" but some other companies have, which is why Amazon still gets my business.

Me too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260329)

Ditto. I have done this for years. I have actually been pleasantly surprised to find that my paranoia has not been based on reality. Most of the companies and forums, certainly the major companies have not sold me out.

On the flip side, the ones that have been sold, get sold all over the place and the spam floods in. For these I simply create a filter, anything to this address gets deleted. And, I never do business with that company again.

Re:Who does form post to? (5, Informative)

dpdjvan (2551774) | about 2 years ago | (#42260407)

Also with gmail you can add a unquie tag using a '+'. Then you know if someone was tracking you or selling your information. Use it like this regular_email+unquie_tag@gmail.com

Re:Who does form post to? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260685)

A lot of big bulk email providers are catching on to that and just truncate the trailing part for gmail accounts. Any company using Exact Target (a very very popular provider) will have that "feature" by default (started a few months ago i think. It didn't use to do that and then one day, poof!).

Re:Who does form post to? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261803)

There are still plenty of web sites that won't accept an email address with a plus sign in the email address. foodnetwork.com, I'm looking at you.

Re:Who does form post to? (3, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#42261959)

Even worse, there are some that will accept them, but then won't properly URL encode the + character in their unsubscribe links for spam they send you, resulting in a error page when you try to unsubscribe until you go and track down the hexadecimal representation of the + symbol's ASCII value (it's 2B, incidentally) and then modify the URL by hand to use "%2B" instead of "+". Disney, I'm looking at you.

Slashdotted? (1)

kasperd (592156) | about 2 years ago | (#42260087)

$ telnet 42floors.com 80
Trying 2600:3c03::f03c:91ff:feae:fd4d...
telnet: Unable to connect to remote host: Connection refused

Gmail is easy to snoop (5, Interesting)

broothal (186066) | about 2 years ago | (#42260103)

I was logged into a gmail that I only use for receiving, never sending. I visited Netflix in another tab in Chrome. I visited their free trial page, but I decided it wasn't for me, so I closed the tab without entering any data.

A few days later I got an email from netflix - to the gmail account I was signed in to in another tab - asking me if I needed help completing the form.

True, and very scary story.

Two Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260153)

Ghostery and NoScript

Minority report (4, Interesting)

Reclaimer (2793605) | about 2 years ago | (#42260177)

So we've hit minority report: "You drive to Home Depot and walk in. Closed-circuit cameras match your face against a database of every shopper that has used a credit card at Walmart or Target and identifies you by name, address, and phone. If you happen to walk out the front door without buying anything your phone buzzes with a text message from Home Depot offering you a 10% discount good for the next hour."

Re:Minority report (1)

xeno314 (661565) | about 2 years ago | (#42260485)

Just enjoy it while it's a discount they're offering. I seem to recall things going downhill in Minority Report.

Wall Street Journal has more details (5, Interesting)

jfruh (300774) | about 2 years ago | (#42260189)

The Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] had a big article about this practice, which is not new and is fully mainstream among U.S. companies. The article contains this COMPLETELY AMAZING quote" "Dataium [a company that facilitates this tracking] said that shoppers' Web browsing is still anonymous, even though it can be tied to their names. "

Maybe.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#42260205)

"phone buzzes with a text message from Home Depot offering you a 10% discount good for the next hour. "

make it 20% and I'll walk back into the store. Yes I'm a price whore.

Re:Maybe.... (3, Funny)

Spamalope (91802) | about 2 years ago | (#42260635)

make it 20% and I'll walk back into the store. Yes I'm a price whore.

It can get so much worse!

*Buzz*

Buy at least $200 in drapes for your wife in the next hour, or we text her the log of your visits to sexycoeds.com

(1 hour later) *Buzz*

Buy $400 of additional merchandise or we make a post on your facebook page about your love for gay tentacle porn. Thank you so much for Liking us earlier! We couldn't do it without you.

Re:Maybe.... (1)

rtaylor (70602) | about 2 years ago | (#42260681)

Look at your phone, pause, look at the store thoughtfully, perhaps phone a friend and argue with them, then start heading for your car again.

The discount may get increased if cameras are watching closely enough.

Is the database open to the public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260341)

When the state controls a database that is not open to continuous public inspection, it can be manipulated.
Unless the "hum" database meets this basic requirement, it has no place in a courtroom.

The same holds true for all state maintained data collections - fingerprints, DNA, etc.

Re:Is the database open to the public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261345)

How dumb do you have to be to reply to the wrong article? I'm just curious.

How about sandboxing websites per domain? (2)

naranek (1727936) | about 2 years ago | (#42260487)

Sorry this is a bit off topic, but I've been wondering what it would take for every site to think that it's the first website you've visited ever. Would it be enough if if the browser stored cookies and other permanent stuff based on what domain is in the address bar?

So if you first visit bing.com and get a cookie from ad-network.com and then visit google.com, the ad-network.com banner doesn't see your earlier cookie, because the domain in the address bar is different. I think it should make tracking people a lot harder, but maybe I'm missing something?

Re:How about sandboxing websites per domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261765)

On the one hand that makes so much sense that it's surprising it isn't standard policy in webbrowsers, but there are catches. For one thing, some websites break because they're hosted on multiple domains. For another, it still won't disable tracking since the pros don't rely on cookies any more for that. Sure, it makes their job easier, but they can get a fair idea of who you are because you're providing every website you visit with your IP address (unless you use Tor, but from my experience it's too slow to be comfortably usable), the name of your browser and operating system, screen size, plugins you use, what your default font-size is (and some can even figure out the font even though that isn't directly query-able from the DOM) and indirect things like how big packets are and such. It is impossible to get anonymity through technical means, and given that we do value it, that means that this is something that the law must enforce.

Another analogy (2)

wesleyjconnor (1955870) | about 2 years ago | (#42260503)

It looks like you left /. without commenting on a page and overusing the word 'most'
Would you perhaps like to take part in this flame of a recent Apple decision?

This is what I do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260551)

My Windows computer changes it's name and MAC address every reboot. Ipv6 is disabled (for now at least). My browsers remove cookies and local cache from all websites (except five or so I trust enough) when I quit the browser. I also use Ghostery and MVPS HOSTS. I'm doing this just for fun, no real reason, but I hope it helps to keep me more anonymous.

Oh, and I usually write to slashdot as a coward.

Big Brother (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | about 2 years ago | (#42260665)

is not the government.

It's the corporations!

May the programmers that coded this stuff burn in hell!!!

Re:Big Brother (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42262159)

May the programmers that coded this stuff burn in hell!!!

No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood. For that matter, what single raindrop really knows what part their tiny contribution plays in the flood?

The shirt..... (1)

murder_face (2574275) | about 2 years ago | (#42260721)

I can't think of the name of the book, but I remember in one of the more recent William Gibson books a shirt that wreaked havoc on cameras and databases.....

Wear a Hat! (1)

halfkoreanamerican (2566687) | about 2 years ago | (#42260733)

Looks like I will be browsing in Private Mode forever and ever, amen amen. Sure it doesn't feel as good, but it's the only way to not get the AIDS.

Not paranoid, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42260791)

My web browser does not know my email address. Why should it? I use alpine on a server for my email, but it should be easy for most people to avoid letting the OS and web browsers know about any email addresses they use.

been around forever (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42260939)

I've been on here preaching this forever. Any large website you visit is doing this. It's easy to do and a cheap service. TOR doesn't even help you. If you visit a site, they can uniquely identify you, period. They might not know exactly who you are (your name) but they don't care about that. They have your browsing habits, what you're into, and what you're likely to buy. That's all they need. I've seen these systems in action and the level of detail is amazing. You can not escape them.

So thats why I've been getting that big booty spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42261051)

I've been going through logs trying to figure out when I've used my real email for porn. Made no sense 'till now...

Luckily, my love for the booty is well known :P

p.s. One thing for sure, I need to start using my reconnection script more often... It's a a simple python telnet session to my router to drop and resume the connection:

#python3
import sys
import telnetlib

HOST = "10.0.0.138"
user = "BootyLoverAdmin"
password = "SomePassword"

tn = telnetlib.Telnet(HOST)

tn.read_until(b"Login: ")
tn.write(user.encode('ascii') + b"\n")
if password:
        tn.read_until(b"Password: ")
        tn.write(password.encode('ascii') + b"\n")

tn.write(b"adsl connection --down\n")
tn.write(b"adsl connection --up\n")
tn.write(b"logout\n")

print (tn.read_all())

Maybe I'll cron it or something...

Yeah, sorry about that. (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about 2 years ago | (#42261369)

I may have written this one. Or maybe one of it's ancestors. Back in 2005, a marketing company in Minneapolis asked me to figure this out. So I did. Haven't thought about it since. If I did write this one, don't feel bad. I got paid a premium for it. So at least they're treating their programmers well. That should make you feel at least a little better about permanently losing your privacy, don't you think?

Cookies? (1)

UniqueArticleWizard (2793659) | about 2 years ago | (#42261467)

So are these considered cookies? Also, websites that have the HTTPS instead of HTTP would be considered safer to browse then, no? Interest post. Thanks.

Don't like it? Use Ghostery. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42262209)

I've been using Ghostery for the past year to avoid being tracked. It blocks tracking sites at the http level and lists many/most of the various tracking sites. It causes me very few problems, and is easy to temporarily disable if the need arises.

http://www.ghostery.com/

spam is spam is spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42262331)

It doesn't matter when it arrives or how they obtained my address. The mere fact that they send out unsolicited commerical email makes it spam.

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