UCL News


UCL in the News: We know who you are

5 June 2007

Last month, we revealed that Microsoft's Beijing lab - Microsoft Research Asia - is researching ways to find out key data about us from our web browsing history.

I wondered what other people thought about the idea of somehow getting hold of your browsing history - by one of many means - to do this and Ian Brown [UCL Computer Science], a leading light in the electronic privacy movement as a founder member of the UK's Foundation for Information Policy Research had this to say:

"From a privacy perspective it would be very problematic if websites tried to deduce personal information from their users by analysing browsing behaviour, rather than explicitly asking those users that are willing to provide the information.

"It would be even worse if sites used these techniques without informing users - and illegal under European privacy law. As a general principle, websites should ask users to explicitly opt in to customisation based upon their personal information, not surreptitiously try to gather that data." …

Paul Marks, New Scientist Blogs