Never admit you like Star Wars

I really enjoyed this article about how little information is needed to personally identify you. The answer is, a lot less than you might think, and using more benign information than you might imagine. 1990 census data showed that 87% of people in the US could be identified based on their zip code, gender and date of birth. I found their results on movie preferences even more interesting: “Knowing just a little about a subscriber–say, six to eight movie preferences, the type of thing you might post on a social-networking site–the researchers found that they could pick out your anonymous Netflix profile, if you had one in the set.”
As the article goes on, bringing up RFiD tags, phone tracking, and surveillance cameras, you get the idea that the only real protection you have is hoping that nobody really wants to bother tracking so much information about you. It is not plausible to perfectly control what information you allow to be released when small, diverse facts when grouped with the right databases can pinpoint who you are. Better to be aware that this is now possible and focus on having legislation that controls how such data can be used and what individual rights we have to access our own data, correct it, and ideally remove it.

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