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How Much of Your Life Is on the Internet?

Today, half of 80 million American adults have purchased something online, and 8 million of those individuals use, which usually will store buyer preferences. Most of us don't think about the transaction histories and user preferences that are more frequently being mined, creating "personalized pages" and direct email offers announcing products and services that "individuals like us" are exploring.

But security on the Internet, vis-à-vis Web commerce, is only the tip of the iceberg. Many security-conscious organizations, starting with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), then TRUSTe, have been proponents of voluntary restrictions on information collection, storage, and redistribution. The EFF, founded by Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, saw a time when merging of data from computer databases, public government records, retail purchases, medical records, and the "data wake" left by our Web surfing could create a fairly accurate representation of our persona. By using common key fields, creating this master file would not be too difficult.

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