Volume 14, Issue 4; 21 Jan 2011

Musings on search and privacy.

I've never worried about what I type into search engines or what sites I visit on the web (as evidenced by my browser cache). I don't necessarily want the world to know all my foibles, but none of them are more than mildly embarrassing, I'm sure. I'm confident that my occassional forays into NSFW territory are harmless.

Some of that confidence springs from the notion that my searches, like my cache, are transitory. Or if not entirely transitory, then pretty much anonymous. It does me no harm if my search for <insert something here> is aggregated with a million other searches.

But that confidence is probably, if not entirely misplaced, at least overestimated. This point was driven home to me the other day when Clonazepam was mentioned on CSI: NY.

As I typed it into the search engine, I wondered what connections would be formed between my identity and benzodiazepine derivative drugs, what conclusions would be drawn, when, and by whom.

That's not good. And maybe a little paranoid.

I think it remains unlikely that it will ever matter to me personally, but less so than before. And it's probably best to care sooner rather than later.

Not that any of this is news.


well if its any consolidation, I blindly typed the term into google as I was reading your article ... I am less paranoid if only because I know how inaccurate and just plain wrong all of the IT can be behind these services. The problem is the perception that machines (and data) are infallible and thus when a machine makes an association along comes a human that draws a concrete conclusion from it.

As ever the ability to gather large amounts of data is many magnitudes simpler then deigning valid inferences from said data.

Perhaps in the future we can purchase services that search the entire web on our behalf, attaching all pages to our identities, rendering all inferences invalid ... yes its just that kind of thinking that makes me wonder why we bother continuing to build this thing called the internet ;)

—Posted by JIm Fuller on 21 Jan 2011 @ 05:12 UTC #

Actually it's an epilepsy drug, nothing unusual or exotic about it at all except that you don't want to take it for any length of time if you can help it.

Oh, and it's "Not to be confused with clobazam", as some idiot had the idea of giving a drug to treat the same problem a very similar name.

Good to take the pills in a box with the prescription when you travel, so you don't have to explain to US customs people why you have them.

—Posted by Steve L on 21 Jan 2011 @ 07:05 UTC #