David Norris wants to collect the digital equivalent of fingerprints from every computer, cellphone and TV set-top box in the world.FYI, this includes cars, cell phones, routers, laptops, ipods, game consoles, anything that uses WiFi, ethernet or cell phone technology. This method lets the snooper identify your specific computer behind a firewall, so doing your downloading at McDonald's is no defense.
He's off to a good start. So far, Mr. Norris's start-up company, BlueCava Inc., has identified 200 million devices. By the end of next year, BlueCava says it expects to have cataloged one billion of the world's estimated 10 billion devices.
Advertisers no longer want to just buy ads. They want to buy access to specific people. So, Mr. Norris is building a "credit bureau for devices" in which every computer or cellphone will have a "reputation" based on its user's online behavior, shopping habits and demographics. He plans to sell this information to advertisers willing to pay top dollar for granular data about people's interests and activities.
Device fingerprinting is a powerful emerging tool in this trade. It's "the next generation of online advertising," Mr. Norris says.
To me this sounds like the beautiful hammering of opportunity on the front door, demanding to be let in.
As soon as people find out about this fingerprinting/tracking bullshit, there will be a thriving market in "fingerprint randomization" software. If I'm any judge of human nature, millions of people will pay real money to jam a wrench in this Norris guy's gears.
For one thing, we know that somewhere between a quarter and a half of all web traffic is porn sites. Do those people want unseen advertisers (or the government!) to know they spend X minutes per day at Hot Chicks.com? Because if unseen advertisers know it, how long before that info is for sale?
Besides, do we really want these jerks targeting ads on an individual basis? For one thing, you'd never find out about anything new by accident, just the same old crap you've been ignoring all along.
Anonymity is the grease that makes the Internet glide. Money waiting to be made, my friends!