The spy in your inbox | Ars Technica

Everything on the Internet is monitored in some way. Companies track what you do at work through deep packet inspection to make sure you don’t wander into territory forbidden by company policy, or dump corporate data to a remote server just before you give notice. The Web pages you visit and the HTML-based mass e-mails you open are logged and tracked by advertisers and marketers. And your boss can tell if you’ve ever opened that urgent message or not.

But people usually don’t throw it in your face and shatter whatever remaining illusions of privacy you might have, as someone did to my colleague Andrew Cunningham today.”Oh, man, a PR person was just totally creepy at me,” he interjected over IRC this morning.

The “creepy” was an e-mail that a media representative for a company called ContactMonkey sent on the heels of another one Cunningham had just opened. The second message included information about his location, the e-mail client he had used to open it, and the exact time it had been opened.

via The spy in your inbox | Ars Technica.


5 thoughts on “The spy in your inbox | Ars Technica

  1. This is indeed creepy. It seems as long as someone is using the net, the person is constantly giving out information voluntarily and involuntarily. In some way, I think the issue about internet is that it gives people illusions that we have freedom (we can search whatever we want), privacy (we are protected as long as we don’t give out information, or we give information to trusted corporations, etc), and power/control (we can speak up and do a lot of things we want). People live and function in such illusion bubbles online, and may end up feeling creepy when the bubbles burst. The truth is we don’t have freedom to different kinds of information. Search results are tailored for us. We are clustered into different groups (polarizations). We are not as well protected as we think. Information can means money and power, so many people and corporations and ever governments are out there doing their best to obtain as much information about you as possible. We might have some power and control , but we are not really that powerful. We don’t have all control over what information we give out or what search results returned. What we say online could be somehow monitored and might cause us real life consequences.
    I am not saying all these are bad, because in some way, these are bubbles are what keeping the internet community functioning with order. Maybe people should be able to see these bubbles and make a conscious choice to whether keep living in/with them, or to make changes.

  2. This is why I use Firefox in the private browsing mode. I don’t want anyone tracking the sites that I go to and the Items that I buy. Not because I have something to hide but because it’s nobody’s business but my own. I did an internship over the summer and I got corporate email. On certain HR emails we would get a little message after we opened them saying that so and so would be notified that I had read the email at this time. I was a little creeped out by that. But it did motivate me to respond to the email quickly. So I guess it works

  3. I agree with you Khysaw that even though I don’t have anything to hide, it’s nobody’s business but my own. I almost feel that all the surveillance and lack of privacy we have on the net can only hurt you. Yeah websites can track your recent purchases and suggest related items to you, however I feel these types of surveillance systems can hurt you more than they help you. Everything on the Internet is monitored some way meaning people have the ability to know your every move on the Internet. Surveillance systems online can easily be hacked and used to hurt you. For example if you share where you are on Facebook which shows the exact time it was posted anyone can use this information to know that you are not at your house and won’t be for sometime which means anyone can rob you at that point. I think all these surveillance systems are creepy and can really be used in negative ways. The way I see it is, I don’t want you to know everything I do and you don’t want me to know everything you do so lets be fair and keep our lives private.

  4. This article was really interesting to me because I very clearly see both sides of the argument. On one hand, I agree that tracking and monitoring tactics such as the ones described in the article can quickly cross the line into “creepy” territory – it is not a pleasant thought to imagine that someone, somewhere, is always looking over your shoulder and is capable of analyzing your every click, open, etc. The right to privacy is often described as the right to be left alone, and these tactics do not allow necessarily allow for this.

    However, I also see the positives to using such tracking tactics (when not used in extreme ways) for highly personalized marketing purposes. I interned at a company this summer that provides SaaS software solutions to companies and marketers in order for them to have a unified view of consumers across multiple channels (email, mobile, social, etc.) to drive customer engagement, automate marketing, increase sales, and improve return on investments. Several of the tactics described in the article (when not used in extreme ways) can be highly valuable to companies in order to provide their customers with product suggestions, personalized messages and other engagement tactics in order to for customers to better connect with brands and companies.

    It today’s world, the idea of highly personalized marketing messages seems to be a basic expectations of customers and users – even though we know that a portion of our privacy is being sacrificed in order to achieve this.

  5. After reading this I turned my browsing mode to private. I was not aware of the tracking that was going on while browsing the web. Like Khysaw, there is nothing for me to hide I am just not comfortable with it. I just feel that it is a complete invasion of privacy and I do not approve of someone tracking my every move on the internet. As far as work I see why companies may track and survey the computers. There are usually strict rules to not get on social media sites on their computers and sometimes people may get on the sites anyways. This is a way for them to put a stop to that, but I still feel that it is abusing technology. There are always stories of someone hacking a company’s system and taking information of their co-workers to use it against them. I myself would not be comfortable at a workplace where such thing could happen to anyone. I feel like this is something that should be brought to the light because I am sure there are many how do not know they are being surveyed and tracked by their every move on the internet.

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