Somebody’s Watching You ! Can the internet really be private?

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 1996

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All around us today information is gathered about how we shop, what we buy, our likes, and our dislikes. Every time we pay for groceries with a check cashing card, fill out a survey, or subscribe to a magazine, we are giving personal information to the marketers. They use this information to try and sell us more products and services. What's worse is that these companies are trading what they know about us.

Thanks to the Internet, chances are we haven't seen anything yet. More and more businesses are finding their way onto the Internet, we're on the brink of the biggest invasion of privacy yet. It will be easier for marketers to know more than ever about who we are and what we do.

Every time we register on a web site, like C/NET or GNN, those who want us to register are gathering information on our computing habits.

This demographic information could be used to entice advertisers, and to send advertisements.

The technology to monitor our on-line habits is getting better and better. Some Internet browsers will supply information about us automatically to a server. They will send packets of data from your computer containing your e-mail address, name, company, the computer you use, and other information without you knowing it. Companies motivated by studies that say employees are spending too much time looking at Web sites unrelated to their jobs are purchasing programs, such as Net Access Manager released in April by SeQuel to regulate their employees (Aguilar, 1996).

Net Access Manager allows employers to monitor use of the Internet by an individual employee, a department, or the entire company (Aguilar, 1996). Without employees knowing they are being watched, the program will report exactly which sites are visited and by whom (Aguilar, 1996).

A new service offered...