Letter to the Editor: Internet is wide open

To the Editor:

The antics of Cambridge Analytica in the last election should be no surprise.

The Internet is designed to be a totally open communication system. It is essentially a computerization of the protocols refined by the Navy’s relay station on Oahu during WW II.

Its development was (and is) done with broadside messages called “Request for Comments” (RFC). A few became the basic standards for addresses, addressing, message packaging, etc. This paucity is what enables the tremendous variety of uses for the internet. That is, the internet is deliberately open.

Other RFCs are not mandatory, but they set the accepted way specific activities are carried out. Anything you do on the internet is available to anyone with the technical tools. The open internet enables your browser searches.

Even if you use an encrypted browser and the content of a site you log on to from the browser is encrypted, the fact that you logged on to that site and how long you stayed logged on is public knowledge. Source-destination of your traffic is the key to analyzing your behavior.

The mathematical statistics tools that Cambridge Analytica uses have been around for years. One early application was for the credit reporting companies to look at your credit card purchases and to provide mailing lists to other vendors.

Now large marketeers stick related products in your face when you order on-line. Those uses are based on databases controlled by the entity. Now comes social media. It is wide open on the wide-open internet.

Access to all this data on your whole lifestyle is all Cambridge Analytica or anyone so motivated needs. What’s next? Individual pricing! Does everything you do online make you look cheap, or rich?

Carl Brooks, Great Cranberry Island


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