NSA’s taste for cookies reveals the danger of marketing-driven web tracking

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In a sense, the latest NSA revelation – that the agency and its partners tap into commercial “cookies” to track people’s web usage – isn’t that big a deal, compared with earlier leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. After all, this appears to be a technique employed to track specific targets that have already been identified. It’s not a tool of bulk, suspicionless surveillance.

That said, the story does add to a building realization: that commercial and government surveillance are inseparable.

While I’ve always been concerned about Google(s goog) and Facebook(s fb)’s evasive and occasionally duplicitous attitude towards privacy, I see a surveillance-happy government as a much greater threat, because it has the power to send a man with a gun to my door. However, when such a government can harness the invasive nature of commercial tracking, then it ceases to be a game of which one is worse.

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