Saturday, March 30, 2013

We are all part of the collective

Last Sunday I placed an order with Amazon for some packing tape. I use it to bind together cut up cardboard boxes, so the stack doesn't blow around and annoy my neighbors when it's put outside on recycling day.

Today, I'm finding my "recommended for you" stream jammed with packing supplies - boxes, tape, bubble wrap and the like. I know how to fix it on Amazon, but something a bit more disturbing has happened.

In today's mail, I received an envelope stamped "verify your new address". Curious, I opened it, and discovered it was a flyer from AT&T congratulating me on my recent move and promoting their services.

Now, AT&T isn't always on the ball, but I've been here over eighteen months. Even they aren't that far behind on things. Amazon, as can be expected, sells the incredible amount of information they gather about their customers to other companies, to be used for target marketing.

It's not the fact that they do it (well, duh, if you think they don't you're a fool), but the speed with which the connection was made that I find a bit...creepy.

It's almost impossible these days not have this happen. If you use the 'net at all, certain facts are out there. If you on-line shop, there is even more. Employers post employee names and contact numbers on their websites as an aid to customer service. So much more that we barely think about.

The government wants expanded abilities to mine all of that information, ostensibly to help keep us safe. The problem here is that any technology that can be used for good can be used for evil (that's a more-or-less quote from...someone?).

I think I'm right to be a little bit creeped out.

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