China Daily looks into the issue of data collection and user privacy online:
Big Data takes note when you shop online for lingerie. It registers the inquiries you type into search engines about your weird rash. And apparently, it scoops up your love-letter e-mails when its cars drive by your house (O.K., that was just Google, but you get the idea). […]
The fine print in online privacy policies should not be mistaken as a shield between Internet users and data collectors, and governments across the globe are trying to sort through tangled business interests and citizen security.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission monitors whether Internet companies honor their privacy policies about when and where they will share consumers’ personal information. But the commission has no power to assess penalties for most violations, The Times reported, and it has little influence over how companies without privacy rules operate.
“In the United States, privacy is a consumer business,” Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, told The Times. “In Europe, it is a fundamental rights issue.” […]
So what are the options? […]
Technology companies are working to establish Do Not Track mechanisms, much like Do Not Call telephone lists.