A paper bought at a newsstand does not trigger a data flow to the newspaper publisher. By contrast, a visit to a website like the German American Law Journal causes a browser to drop off some information which the server hardware and software needs and can collect.
The Washington Post may learn that a customer bought a paper at a particular newsstand. With a subscription and home or office delivery, the Post will learn much more about you. If you subscribe to PostPoints, it will learn a lot more. So, the Washington Post may not be the best example of publishers foregoing access to information about you.
Let's consider All Things Considered from NPR or the Newshour With Jim Lehrer transmitted through the air, not a cable or via satellite. The publisher would appear to learn nothing about you -- until you join their sponsors.
The German American Law Journal does not want your information.
- The data you have your browser drop off enters a log file on the web server.
- This publisher examines the log file frequently to deal with harmful bad bots. If you act like a bad bot, this publisher will see the information. If you appear to attack or overload the server, this publisher may take action, like block your IP address or refer you to IC3.gov.
- This publisher is happy if you want to hide your information, for instance by setting your browser to reveal nothing about you, your PC, your operating system, your brower, your connection or your prior visit elsewhere.
- If you visit anonymously, the log file would contain information that the anonymizing service drops off. It does most likely not contain private information about you or your browser, your PC, your operating system, your connection or your prior visit elsewhere. This publisher would be happy to receive entirely fake information about your visit.
- Occasionally, this publisher looks at aggregate data from the log file, primarily to see if anybody has visited the German American Law Journal.
- This publisher has made no arrangements to sell any log files.
- This publisher subscribes to a Google service that measures Internet activities, and this publisher can look at summaries that Google provides. If you were the only visitor, this publisher could learn where in the world your computer sits.
- Alexa and many other services somehow also measure interactions with the German American Law Journal but that is not instigated by this publisher, and this publisher does not particularly care.
- This publisher assumes that crooks and governments or their contractors also measure such interactions, and there is probably nothing that this publisher can do about that.
Copyright 2009 C. Kochinke