Collection Of Personal Information

"Every computer, mobile phone, and other devices connected to the Internet has a unique IP address, providing a unique identifier for each device. This means that any device can be traced, posing new significant challenges to privacy protection.

Among the many tools used to track Internet users, two common ones are cookies and web bugs. Cookies are small text files stored on a user's computer by a web browser each time the user uses the browser. They can track sessions, store website preferences, and handle authentication. Users can choose to accept or reject cookies by changing settings in the browser, but some websites may not function properly without cookies.

Web browsers are often invisible to users (usually only 1×1 pixels), embedded in web pages and emails. When viewing pages/emails containing web bugs, information is sent back to the server, including the user's IP address, the date and time the email was viewed, and the browser used. An IP address can be linked to a person's physical identity in many ways, and many websites and Internet service providers develop authentication systems that collect this information, involving identity disclosure, especially in e-commerce transactions.

Many applications require personal email or other forms of identity information. Governments sometimes require internet users to register IP addresses, and in some cases, a person's identity can be inferred through their online behavior.

The Internet's main feature is interactivity. Users are often asked to provide personal information at every step, such as searching for things, clicking on links, browsing web pages, and determining how long they use them. Many technological tools and devices are designed to collect this information, such as TiVo digital video recorders, Xbox 360, and Google Book Search, which are the highlights of the internet economy.

The digitization of information and the expectation of free access make traditional revenue models more complex online. Therefore, successful companies consciously 'mine' personal privacy data to deliver targeted advertisements to users. Acquiring, retaining, and sharing personal information has a direct economic incentive, which also applies to non-internet electronic activities.

Computer barcodes can be used to track individuals' purchase records, which, in turn, can be used to control inventory levels and target consumers with promotions or marketing activities. Computerized travel cards, such as the London Oyster card, create a digital image for each journey to monitor the extensive flow of people in the city. This is advantageous for traffic planning but can also be used to track individual journeys.

As the internet becomes more prevalent in daily communication, people unknowingly disclose more and more personal information in the process of conducting banking, shopping, and participating in social activities, often including sensitive information such as property, health, and even sexual behavior. The development of society enables the collection of information on a larger scale, as Lawrence Lessig pointed out, 'your life becomes a constantly growing record.'"

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