Recently, a patent has been published that will impact strongly in the world of privacy and the business of the accumulation of users’ information and user tracking practices.
Apple Inc. has acquired the use and enjoyment of a new patented technology developed by Stephen Carter, Novell, called “Techniques to pollute electronic profiling”. It is a technology that allows cloning of the real identity of a person in the network, creating a false identity to operate quietly on the web without danger of being spied on by criminals or tracked and analysed by marketing companies. The patent is very interesting and evokes the “Big Brother” of the Orwell’s novel 1984; it defends the increase in users’ concern about privacy and the control of their data.
The technology means that a number of preferences, interests and actions that are completely different from the reality can be assigned to this cloned identity. For example, if a woman in Italy purchases a bicycle on-line through eBay, the clone of that person can be a Norwegian man who purchases a book through Amazon. Therefore, the trace information involved in the operation would be contaminated and therefore useless for marketing companies.
It even allows one to generate a user name, e-mail address and fake bank details to prevent identity theft. This new technology may also allow safer navigation without having to be a privacy or computer expert. It is a smart and effective solution against the current abuse of traceability techniques, analysis of user profiles and identity theft that allows users to fighting for the control of their data on equal terms.
This development is quite recent and still we do not know what will be the reaction of the rest of the industry that lives off the accumulation and analysis of information, or governments, or if Apple finally will implement this technology. Nevertheless, it is an issue that deserves careful consideration. ∗