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    CBS News: Did the Internet Kill Privacy?

    CBS News discusses the expectations of privacy in a digital age when many people publish personal data online:

    Today our private lives are no longer so private. “When we talk about a right to privacy, what we are really talking about is the right to control information we consider to be private,” said Frederick Lane, an attorney and author of “American Privacy.”

    But considering what happened to Ashley Payne [with her Facebook page], does that mean that even when you are being careful and that you have some amount of privacy on a page, you may not? “You absolutely may not!” said Lane. “All it takes is one person making a copy of what you’ve posted and it’s out in the wild, and you no longer have that control.”

    And we’re not losing that control … we’re giving it away – every time we buy with credit cards, use cell phones which signal our location, or post pictures on social networks like Facebook. Just sending an e-mail may make public private information. […]

    Today, one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet is something called data mining: companies collecting our private information, packaging it, using it, selling it.

    Michael Fertik, a Harvard Law School grad who runs a company called, came up with information I thought was private. I was wrong. “I think this is your Social Security number,” Fertik said. It was! He also revealed what he called my “online reputation,” based mainly on where I happen to live. […]

    Fertik’s company helps people track down and correct misinformation. But most of us will never even know it’s there.

    “The dossier on each of us that is easily aggregated digitally is now probably, let’s call it ten pages,” Fertik said. “Four years ago it was two pages. In four or five years, it’s going to be 100 pages. Why? Because the amount of data that is being collected about each of us, proliferates. Your phone records, your rental records, those different databases that no one originally intended to be combined with one another are being combined now with blazing speed.”

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