The Printing Press to the Internet
C H A P T E R S I X Privacy CONTROVERSY: As the first decade of the 21st century ended, more Americans voiced concerns about privacy. They questioned whether they were paying too high a price to hook up with “friends,” see views of strangers’ front doors around the world, buy books via the Internet, or surf the Web. The high price was a loss of privacy. Companies, such as Facebook and Google, were selling personal data to advertisers without obtaining explicit consent from users. Online users targeted Facebook in 2009 and 2010. Each time, the biggest social net- working site changed users’ privacy settings in response to complaints, it seemed as though users lost more control of their privacy instead. There were calls for boycotts against Facebook, and four Facebook users led a class action lawsuit against the network in 2010. Google managed to draw government scrutiny and the ire of individuals. Probes by several countries, including the U.S., showed that its Street View project had inadvertently intercepted emails, passwords, and URLs from unencrypted Wi-Fi net- works. Earlier, a Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, couple sued Google, arguing that Street View online mapping invaded their privacy. Google settled the novel federal lawsuit for $1, acknowledging that its Street View vehicle had trespassed when it photographed the couple’s private road.1In December 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report endorsing a “do not track” list that would allow users to opt out of having their online activity tracked and sold....
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