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September 2010

Internet privacy tools only go so far

Earlier this decade, public criticism halted the Big Brother-esque initiative from the U.S. government to create a massive database of personal information collected from a wide range of sources, everything from emails to credit card purchases. And we've certainly come a long way from the infamous and long-ago abandoned government plan to embed surveillance chips in consumer electronics. Or have we? Moxie Marlinspike, a noted independent security researcher, says the private sector has taken up the cause. Websites like Google, Facebook and others offer free services that are designed to help people take part in society, but at a hefty cost: You volunteer your personal information to companies and that valuable data accumulates. "If there's one thing Google has excelled at doing, it's making sense of large repositories of data," says Marlinspike. "Make no mistake about it, they are in the surveillance business and the effect is the same." Managing online privacy was one of the themes that surfaced at Black Hat 2010, with a ...

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