Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's Modern Trade: Web Users Get as Much as They Give

by Jim Harper

Wall Street Journal
August 7, 2010

If you surf the web, congratulations! You are part of the information economy. Data gleaned from your communications and transactions grease the gears of modern commerce. Not everyone is celebrating, of course. Many people are concerned and dismayed—even shocked—when they learn that "their" data are fuel for the World Wide Web.

Who is gathering the information? What are they doing with it? How might this harm me? How do I stop it?

These are all good questions. But rather than indulging the natural reaction to say "stop," people should get smart and learn how to control personal information. There are plenty of options and tools people can use to protect privacy—and a certain obligation to use them. Data about you are not "yours" if you don't do anything to control them. Meanwhile, learning about the information economy can make clear its many benefits.