« The right to be left alone.» For many this phrase, made famous by Louis Brandeis, an American Supreme Court justice, captures the essence of a notoriously slippery, but crucial concept. Drawing the boundaries of privacy has always been tricky. Most people have long accepted the need to provide some information about themselves in order to vote, work, shop, pursue a business, socialise or even borrow a library book. But ex¬ercising control over who knows what about you has also come to be seen as an essential feature of a civilised society.
The trade in consumer infor¬mation has hugely expanded in the past ten years. One single company, Acxiom Corporation in Conway, Arkansas, has a database combining public and consumer information that covers 95% of American house¬holds. Is there anyone left on the planet who does not know that their use of the Internet is being recorded by somebody, somewhere?
What right have you to spy into my affairs?