Sunday, when no one was supposed to pay attention, PayPal sent its account holders an innocuous-sounding email with the purposefully bland title, “Notice of Policy Updates.” They didn’t want people to read it – lest they think the NSA is by comparison a group of choirboys.
Sunday, when people had other things to do and weren’t supposed to pay attention, PayPal sent its account holders an innocuous-sounding email with the purposefully bland title, “Notice of Policy Updates.” They didn’t want people to read it – lest they come away thinking that the NSA, which runs the most expansive spying dragnet in history, is by comparison a group of choirboys.
The email started with corporate blah-blah-blah on privacy, that they were “constantly” changing things “to give you more of what you want and improve your experience using us.”
Got it. This is going to be for your own good.
The email further discourages you from diving into it: So “this might not be your favorite stuff to read… but if you are interested take a look.” And this having gone out on a Sunday: “if you have other pressing things to do we’ll understand.” The click-through ratio of that link to these policy changes must have been near absolute zero. So I clicked on it.
It already has the information you hand over when you sign up, including your name, “detailed personal information such as date of birth,” address, phone number, banking and/or credit card information. It further collects information about all “your transactions and your activities.”
When you get on a PayPal site or use its services, it collects “information sent to us by your computer, mobile phone or other access device.” This “includes but is not limited to” (so these are just examples): “data about the pages you access, computer IP address, device ID or unique identifier, device type, geo-location information, computer and connection information, mobile network information, statistics on page views, traffic to and from the sites, referral URL, ad data, and standard web log data and other information.”
You read correctly: “and other information” – anything it can get.
PayPal also collects personal data by putting cookies, web beacons (“to identify our users and user behavior”), and “similar technologies” on your device so that you can be tracked 24/7 even if you’re not using PayPal’s services, and even if you’re not on any of its sites.
Wait, “similar technologies?” By clicking on another link, you find out that they include pernicious “flash cookies,” newfangled “HTML 5 cookies,” and undefined “other web application software methods.” Unlike cookies, they “can operate across all of your browsers.” And you can’t get rid of these spy technologies or block them through your browser the way you get rid of or block cookies. You have to jump through hoops to deal with them, if they can be dealt with at all.
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