Will Australia’s metadata retention scheme track your digital browser fingerprints?
This article caught my attention as I have been following this issue all semester. It also drew my curiosity as a business owner with a vested interest in technology. Essentially what the article presents is the possibility that specific browser configurations coupled with IP address information would allow precision in identifying visitors to monitored webspaces.
This seemed significant to me, because, as the article points out, there are methods for faking or “spoofing” IP addresses and even the more specific MAC address. Faking a browser/system configuration would be quite tedious, though the tenable nature of such configurations may well render this tactic futile. The unique MAC address of devices, which can also be determined via IP address, is a more permanent manner of system identification. Coupled together these identifying pieces of information can create a profile of activity and in some cases pin down physical location.
As I concluded in an earlier blog post it is imperative that third party scrutiny by trained information professionals be a part of any process that retains massive amounts of data for the express purpose of analysis. The ease of access makes this information particularly susceptible to unethical use and must be carefully maintained and supervised accordingly.