When the internet was founded, the use of the technology for pecuniary gain was a banishable offense. Now spying on people is considered the norm.
Take Kissmetrics, which tracks people and connects their common browsing of websites across different computers and tablets so that people can be profiled and monetized. Even when two people use the same computer, Kissmetrics uses data mining and analysis to distinguish between them and monetize your personal identity. Kissmetrics boasts:
“Every last piece gets connected to a real person. All of it. It doesn’t matter if people bounce around between different browsers and devices. Or even if it takes them 6 months to come back. You’ll see what real people do.”
In the past, Kissmetrics was even more aggressive about profiling people online than it is now: according to privacy blogger Maggie Moran, the company got sued for using “supercookies” that people couldn’t disable and appeared to pool data to track people as they moved between sites. In the present, Kissmetrics appears to be quietly integrated into WordPress website tools like Jetpack without users being told about it upfront. (This is why Irregular Times has disabled Jetpack.)
Let’s not beat around the bush: this is corporate surveillance, and it’s creepy.
In an increasingly common variety of the creeps, Kissmetrics doesn’t ask for you to agree for your identity to be tracked. In order to avoid being spied on, you have to become aware of Kissmetrics and then find their “opt out” page. How likely is that? Well, let’s make it a bit more likely. Kissmetrics’ opt-out page is here. No, you don’t have to give your name when you’re opting out. Apparently, they already know.