Good points....the proponents of the the DMCA claim that there are enough provisions for protection of privacy that no further exemptions are needed. As you point out, they need not be collecting personal information to still be data mining. New.nets is collecting the information. In some ways they are hauling out a load of ore from the mine and when asked exactly which shaft they found it reply "Oh...that's not important...we took a little from every shaft" (much to the horror of the mining engineer)
Jeremy Erwin <email@example.com> Sent by: firstname.lastname@example.org
05/24/2003 05:45 PM
Please respond to dvd-discuss
Subject: Re: [dvd-discuss]Spyware Maker sues Lavasoft
On Saturday, May 24, 2003, at 06:34 PM, email@example.com wrote:
> The complaint is almost funny at times...among other things...if
> lavasoft can't
> figure out how to unload their software rather than following the
> instructions they provide...it really must be scumware
New.Net claims that it's not "data mining". According to their
complaint "Data mining is the practice of massaging data to keep track
of and extract value from the numbers, statistics, and information
found within a database and predict what a customer will do next. Data
mining software keeps track of and stores information gathered from Web
site logs and databases and uses that informations to create a "user
profile" which is compared with recorded behavior to divide the users
into groups and predict their behavior. After accumulating this
information, the data mining program can be used to send targeted
online ads to a browser based on the results to the database. Data
mining software is commonly used by retail and marketing companies to
find customers with common interests"
(Plaintiff's Complaint at 5)
The alt.privacy spyware FAQ (http://shplink.com/misc/FAQ.htm) refers
palace/datamining.htm for a discussion /of "data mining."
That site states "Generally, data mining (sometimes called data or
knowledge discovery) is the process of analyzing data from different
perspectives and summarizing it into useful information - information
that can be used to increase revenue, cuts costs, or both. Data mining
software is one of a number of analytical tools for analyzing data. It
allows users to analyze data from many different dimensions or angles,
categorize it, and summarize the relationships identified.
Technically, data mining is the process of finding correlations or
patterns among dozens of fields in large relational databases. " It is
a considerably more broad definition, and it is a definition that would
not contradict, for instance, a bioinformatition's use of the term.
In it's license (which, according to point 2, should be consulted on a
nearly constant basis), New.Nets states that it "does not collect any
Personally Identifiable Information about you via the Product.
"Personally Identifiable Information" means information that would
allow the collector to determine, without reference to any other
information, your name, address or telephone number. However, New.net
may collect non-personally identifiable technical or distribution
information that may include, without limitation,
information regarding your Internet service provider, the IP address
or other source from which the Product was
downloaded or installed, and certain operating metrics such as which
Product number belongs to your Product."
Note that the scope of their claim is limited to the entirety of
information collected via the Product. Presumably, New Net could use
outside information to complete a database that would allow them to
perform actions consistent with their narrow definition of
data-mining-- the construction of a predictive model of behavior
correlated with a single individual. But even if New.Net does not
attempt to construct a massive database, their actions could, quite
reasonably be expected to fall within the broader definition--
discerning correlations between among dozens of fields in a database.
The simple observation that users who visit slashdot also visit sites
related to "C++ development" is data mining, although a trivial example
of such. Perhaps it is folly to regard all such activity as morally
suspect. Nevertheless, purging cookies on a frequent basis is a common
practice among privacy devotees (and presumably among AdAware's
customers). The "product number" of New Net's client can reasonably be
described as an unpurgeable cookie-- and therefore of interest to
anyone who suspects suck data structures.