Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Meet Thelma Arnold

A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749, and it is Thelma Arnold. Detailed records of her searches (and over 650,000 other Americans) were released by AOL to some academic researchers. It underscores how vulnerable we are made by our internet searches and how dangerous it is for companies like AOL, Google, Yahoo, Dogpile, and others, to compile this data.

The obvious reason for compiling our searches is for focused, annoying, advertising and sales. But, but but: the unintended consequences of all that data being compiled, stored and cross-linked are what Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy rights group in Washington, called “a ticking privacy time bomb.”

Earlier in the year, the Justice Department tried to subpoena search records from Google and other search engine companies. Google successfully fended off this demand in court. AOL and Yahoo complied. The Justice Department claimed it was trying to protect children against internet predators.

Does she look like an internet predator? Maybe she's a terrorist. No? Well, Thelma is a 62-year old widow who lives in Georgia. “My goodness, it’s my whole personal life,” she said. “I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder.”

Oh, and by the way: Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman. Are you listening, Georgie?


Pete's Blog said...

Sad to say.

Datamining and phone tapping is so simple that (not only governments) but phone and internet companies are doing it and selling the information to thousands of advertisers.

So I think the (technological) horse has definitely bolted on trying to stop these practices.


robin andrea said...

I shudder to think what my searches reveal about me. I think AOL users are more vulnerable because they are tied into a system that has their personal information. I use Google quite often, but my interet service provider would have to cooperate with them in order to identify me by name. Google would have my IP address, but that's all. This raises an interesting question that I will have to ask my ISP, and that is what they do with personal data. I guess if my searches made the front page, everyone would know that I am crazy about identifying birds, often wondering about strange reactions to prescription medications, and trying to find poems on line!

DivaJood said...

Pete, I agree, it is very much about "close the barn door, the horse is out" - but if the NSA has its way, (and they do) we are in deep deep ca-ca. Of course, they'd find out I adore Eugene Levy, and shop for italian charms for my charm bracelets online, but what the hell.

Robin Andrea, we really are living in insane times. Birds are good. Whatever happened to your mother's border crossing incident?

robin andrea said...

DJ-- My mom called the Canadian pharmacy and explained what happened. They said that one out every two hundred prescriptions sent from Canada is intercepted. They sent a replacement and that was the end of that. No repercussions from the feds.

NotSoccer Mom said...

i definitely shudder to think what they'd find out about me. yikes. call me naive but isn't anything sacred anymore! i'm afraid personal privacy is on its way out....

DivaJood said...

Robin Andrea, that's good news.

notsoccer mom, personal privacy is long gone - sorry.

Mary said...

I know lots of people (one being my husband) who won't do half the things I do online including blog. Makes them very paranoid.

Tina said...

OMG... if someone were to take a glance at my Google images that I look at-- on that basis alone-- I would be sooo screwed. Almost every one of them involves Bush, Cheney, or Rummy and then oftentimes I throw in the word ass or dick to pull up the funny ones... sigh... I'm toast... I am sooo done.

glenda said...

So, is that her dog Louise?
Get it, Thelma and ....?
Yes, Lieberman felt the love!!

Here's my 2 cents. We should feel free to do whatever we want to online, as long as it's legal...and not worry, because if we do, our freedom is already gone.

There are how many millions of people on line right? Wouldn't you think all the pedophiles would be a higher priority than my petty political beliefs?

Please, don't answer that one.

Sue Woo said...

Git in the car Thelma! Drive Louise!

I hope all the stalkers (which of course is what they are) enjoy all my yarn shopping on eBay, and research for my book on internet stalking. Ha!

Sigrid Jardin said...

Yes, she certainly fits the terrorist profile doesn't she. All those references to "men" and "dogs" and "real estate" probably are a coded reference for something big she's cooking up. You can run, Thelma, but you can't hide these days. They've got you figured out - dangerous and suspicious - and they're watching your every mouse click for more clues. They're probably watching all of us the same way, looking for something to hang their hats on. Well let's keep on blogging, using Google, emailing, and let's flood the internet with our free speech and our rich stew pot of ideas and exchanges!

tal said...

Just use a proxy please and lets move on. These SEs are going to only get worse.

Theres a low tech and free solution out there.

BZ said...

That Liberman loss is great!

sumo said...

There's going to be a revolution someday...and these people and their tactics won't be forgotten.

DivaJood said...

Glenda, that's hilarious - Thelma and Louise. BTW, I just this morning noticed that Louise is wearing diapers. So, at least Thelma won't be shot over the display of her dog's genitalia.

Sue Woo, oh, my god, shopping for yarn on ebay! That's positively criminal.

Sigrid, you know she does. It's also the medical research for sick friends. I mean, compassion alone might wind her up in the slammer.

Tal, no offense, but I am so unlikely to take the recommendations of someone with no profile, no history, and no "I found you off so and so's site."

BZ, now the hard part begins: keeping Lieberman from running as an "independent" (managed by uberevil Karl Rove.)

Sumo, the revolution has started.

pissed off patricia said...

She looks pretty safe but that beast with her is definately a terrorist ;)

Privacy, that will someday be a historical word. Maybe it already is.

Joe who?

karena said...

I applaud Thelma for being upset. Now what? Scare people off the net?

Diva, those Italian charms and their international connections could land you in the slammer.

Sue Woo and Glenda, thanks for the laugh!

DivaJood said...

POP, I think the dog is in compliance because of the diapers.

Karena, I know I'm in trouble. BTW, my site meter told me I have been visited by some government agencies. Is it the Italian Charms?

Helen Wheels said...

I know I'm spied on because I get emailed spam with words in the subjects that are from interests of mine, or searches, or content of emails I've sent. I have absolutely no doubt all my stuff is available to someone, somewhere. That being said, It's damn lucky I'm a squeaky-clean, non-porno-loving sorta gal.

Anyone who sees my searches would probably think "what a geek" or "zzzzzzz"


Helen Wheels said...

Oh and yes it still makes me outraged.

DivaJood said...

Helen, I qualify in the geek category too. And it's outrageous.

karena said...

How does one recognize a government agency on one's site meter. I don't have I site meter. How can I tell if the government reads my blog?

I figure even Thelma can read my blog, but I don't say or do anything that I couldn't have published in a newspaper. So what, I curse like a sailor and hate the current government? I'm like someone's old grandpa. Isn't that what we were raised on? Having some cursing ranting relative who was always seated at the card table instead of the main table?

Still, it would be keen to know what "types" are reading our blogs.

DivaJood said...

Karena, I got a site meter a while ago, because I was new at blogging and it looked like a cool button. But I looked at my stats the other day, and saw that I've been visited by someone from a government agency. It had the site address, so I linked onto it, and there it was.

Now, I think it's an agency that might just want to sell me something, because I buy SCTV boxed sets, but that's another issue.

And I had an old uncle who looked like a cadaver, and he never spoke.

karena said...

I had a great uncle that never really spoke. Supposedly he was liquored up but you couldn't really tell 'cause he just sat there.

Supposedly he got all liquored up with his Dentist friend and they went to the dental office and pulled all of his teeth just for a lark.

Myth or truth, I do not know. He never said a word.

DivaJood said...

Karena, that's very funny - have the dentist pull all his teeth for fun. They must have been really liquored up! Wow.

Did he look like a cadaver?