New Microsoft software can identify you from your online habits

Posted on Thursday, May 24 2007 @ 00:55 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
New software developed by Microsoft could accurately guess your name, age, gender and potentially even your location by analysing your web browsing history.
But experts say the idea is a clear threat to privacy - and may be illegal in some places.

Previous studies show there are strong correlations between the sites that people visit and their personal characteristics, says software engineer Jian Hu from Microsoft's research lab in Beijing, China. For example, 74 per cent of women seek health and medical information online, while only 58 per cent of men do. And 34 per cent of women surf the internet for information about religion, whereas 25 per cent of men do the same.

While each offers only a fairly crude insight, analytical software could use a vast range of such profiles to perform a probabilistic analysis of a person's browsing history. From that it could make a good guess about their identity, Hu and his colleagues last week told the World Wide Web 2007 conference in Banff, Canada.
More info at NewScientistTech.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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Re: New Microsoft software can identify you from your online habits
by Anonymous on Monday, May 28 2007 @ 04:08 CEST

Every website knows your IP address, your browser setting, and each webpage you visited. That doesn't mean IDENTITY.

The reporter is mixing the meaning of "Identity" and "Preference". If you read the conference paper, you can see the researchers are trying to provide personalized service which match people's perference, instead of trying to identify people.