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Free online tools such as search, email and mapping come with a hidden cost. Web users obtain such services by making micropayments of personal and organizational information to the web service providers. Web companies use this information to create customized advertising and tailored user experiences. Individually, each transaction appears innocuous, but when aggregated, the result is often highly sensitive. The impact of AOL's inadvertent disclosure of 20 million nominally anonymized search queries underscores the pressing need for increasing web privacy and raising user awareness of the problem. Rather than advocate extreme legal and policy measures to address the dilemma, this paper proposes an equitable self-monitoring solution.
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