Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance
BY BENNETT CYPHERS DECEMBER 2, 2019
Corporations have built a hall of one-way mirrors: from the inside, you can see only apps, web pages, ads, and yourself reflected by social media. But in the shadows behind the glass, trackers quietly take notes on nearly everything you do. These trackers are not omniscient, but they are widespread and indiscriminate. The data they collect and derive is not perfect, but it is nevertheless extremely sensitive.
A data-snorting company can just make low bids to ensure it never wins while pocketing your data for nothing. This is a flaw in the implied deal where you trade data for benefits.
You can limit what you give away by blocking tracking cookies. Unfortunately, you can still be tracked by other techniques. These include web beacons, browser fingerprinting and behavioural data such as mouse movements, pauses and clicks, or sweeps and taps.
The EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was a baby step in the right direction. BOWM also mentions Vermont’s data privacy law, the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) and next year’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Tor, the original anti-surveillance browser, is based on an old, heavily modified version of Firefox.
Most other browsers are now, like Chrome, based on Google’s open source Chromium. Once enough web developers started coding for Chrome instead of for open standards, it became arduous and expensive to sustain alternative browser engines. Chromium-based browsers now include Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, the Epic Privacy Browser and next year’s new Microsoft Edge.
more on surveillance in this IMS blog