Privacy expert monitors issue with a keen eye

    Date13 Oct 2000
    CategoryPrivacy
    3497
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Richard Smith has dedicated himself to demanding high security and privacy standards of Internet companies. A veteran computer programmer, Smith knows how information collected through technology can be manipulated in ways the developer never intended. Currently the chief technology officer at . . . Richard Smith has dedicated himself to demanding high security and privacy standards of Internet companies. A veteran computer programmer, Smith knows how information collected through technology can be manipulated in ways the developer never intended. Currently the chief technology officer at the Privacy Foundation, Smith has gained prominence for revealing tracking technologies within software programs, operating systems and Internet services, including high-profile privacy flaws at RealNetworks and Microsoft.

    A kind of ethical hacker, Smith uses the Internet to spy on the spies, such as his recent discovery that Microsoft Word documents can contain electronic surveillance tags that allow authors to track their use. Such "computer-bites-man" stories add fuel to a privacy debate fire that began earlier this year with the DoubleClick-Abacus Direct merger. Since then, online profiling practices by marketers have become a flash point with legislators, consumer advocates and the public, who are concerned that personally identifiable information can be linked to data collected about online habits.

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