In the mix: Your unique(ish) browser fingerprint…and…No $$ for privacy.

January 29th, 2010 by Grace Meng

1) EFF’s Panopticlick project lets you see how much your browser reveals and whether that might potentially “identify” you, based on their calculation of how identifiable a set of bits might be.

Can someone with a better grasp of math than I have explain to me how their information theory works? Right now, they have let’s say 10,000 people who’ve contributed their browser info. Bruce Schneier found out he was unique in 120,000. But if millions of people tested their browsers, would his configuration really be that unique? (Lots of skepticism in the comments to Schneier’s post, too.)

2) New initiative by advertising groups to reveal that they are tracking information — a small “i” icon:

What a quote: “‘This is not the full solution, but this moves the ball forward,’ he said.”

Well, that’s the understatement of the century. Full solution to what? The advertising industry keeping regulators off their backs? Helping users understanding how targeted advertising finds them? Really, neither are the real problem. Regulators should be focusing on establishing industry guidelines for how service providers and 3rd party advertising partners store and share data.

3) Should government data be in more user-friendly formats than XML?

Or should we leave usability to disinterested 3rd parites? If the government starts releasing user-friendly data, will that simply open the door for agencies to “spin” their data to make themselves look good? Actually, right now, how do we really know the data that’s being released hasn’t been “edited” in some way? Who’s vetting these releases and what’s the process?

4) Ten years and no one is really making any money off of “privacy”?

Perhaps no one has successfully “sold” privacy (as it’s own thing) because we haven’t yet agreed on what that a “privacy product” would look like. As Mimi says, “If someone was selling something that would guarantee that I would never get any SPAM (mail or email) for the rest of my life, I would totally sign up for that.” But that might not equal “privacy” for someone else.

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