Internet tracking is not a service

by aepxc

Information is power. The unilateral and clandestine acquisition of power allows for the people engaged in it to exploit their targets. Imagine someone breaking in and living in your house while you are on holiday, only to clean it up and stock the fridge for your return. Upon return it’s not even clear what happened – you just find a clean house with a stocked fridge. They deliver value to you (the cleaning and the full fridge), and while they also extract value, the extraction is seemingly not from you directly (you were not using your house anyway, and they did not spoil or break anything). So is it still wrong? My answer would be yes – because an asset belonging to me just got exploited without my express permission (de facto reducing my control over and, therefore, ownership of it), and because the scope for abuse is high (even though no abuse took place).  

Secret, one-way privacy violations are exactly equivalent. Providing a service that I did not ask for in return for helping yourself to some of my assets that I did not agree to share is racketeering. Racketeering can be innovative, but it is not the kind of innovation I want.