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    Opinion at Financial Times (UK): Technology and society: Virtually insecure

    At the Financial Times, there’s an opinion column about the issue of privacy and tech surveillance.

    The digital dossiers that companies are building from the browsing, searching and other habits of ordinary web users are becoming increasingly refined. At the same time, a deluge of personal information has been unleashed publicly on the web, with Facebook’s 500m users at the forefront.

    With rapid inroads on both fronts being made into many traditional expectations of personal privacy, the results could prove explosive.

    “Tiny pieces of disparate data are being mashed together to create a digital profile of you in detail you never thought imaginable,” says Michael Fertik of ReputationDefender, a company that helps people manage their online footprint.

    “Whether you stay up late at night or have ever complained about a company could affect your employability. Whether you have expensive spending habits may affect if someone will invest in your company or date you.”

    As such concerns have spread, the heat has been turned up this year under a long-simmering debate about the limits of online privacy. As an official at one leading US internet company concedes, it would take only one big scandal to do with the misuse of personal information – involving, say, the child of a prominent politician – for the issue to boil over. […]

    The tensions created by the twin advance of internet tracking technologies and user’s own less inhibited approach to exposing personal information online have exposed some deep philosophical differences, while also highlighting the powerful commercial interests that are at stake.

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