Can you really opt out of Big Data?




I was assuming that the story would have ended with her efforts failing, because it ended up that her ObGyn was selling patient's contact information or something. Pleasantly surprised to see that wasn't the case.



There's also the idea of hiding in plain sight. Just randomize your web browsing/shopping/social media habits enough and your data becomes noise. I need someone to make a browser plug-in for this. If everyone spoofed the data collection systems, they wouldn't be useful.


Cory's writeup is a bit confusing.

She quickly discovered that this was nearly impossible, even while she used Tor, ad blockers, and cash-purchased Amazon cards

Those things she did did hide her from Big Data. The point of the article was that doing all those things is very, very hard.

(And she says she didn't use an Ad Blocker, by the way.)


I scrolled through all the pages and could not find the results.

Did it work?



seems futile, to be honest. they are going to find out eventually one way or another.


It's kind of difficult to randomize your shopping habits unless you're willing to purchase (and return?) lots of stuff you don't need.


Unless a bunch of folks use one account to buy all the stuff they want online, thus adding some noise.


Which reminds me of a joke (with probably the exact same results):

After enlisting in the army, the guyhad second thoughts about serving so when he was told to bring a urine specimen to the selective service officer, he filled a bottle with specimens from his father, his sister, his dog, and then a bit of his own. Striding confidently into the lab with his specimen bottle, he waited a full hour while the sample was analyzed. Finally, the technician returned. "It took some doing," she said, 'but according to our analysis, your father has herpes, your sister is pregnant, your dog is in heat, and you're in the army."


Opting out make me happy. Not being connected and tracked by machines is very liberating. I say "NO" with great joy.


Amused that on getting to the end of the article, a box slid on from the side of the page inviting me to 'like' it on Facebook...


The version that I heard as a teenager was about a guy going to a doctor for tennis elbow... This doctor claimed that he could diagnose anything via a urine sample (perhaps it was via tasting). He collected various samples as you described, but instead of his urine he deposited a little sperm sample... The diagnosis was the same as yours except the punchline was "...and if you stopped jerking off so much, your elbow wouldn't hurt".


That just means that they put an entry in their database that you are the type of person who says no to tracking, thus perfect for ads from product X wink


Of course, all those efforts are for nothing, as once she actually gives birth, that birth is a public record that gets sucked up by big data. So then she'll get hit with the baby marketing. This was true for many decades before the web existed. You can't opt out of big data.


Perhaps jerking off is the better analogy here


I don't get it, if they did everything they could to hide the pregnancy, why would they shop online? Sillies. With my last pregnancy, she's 2 btw, no one but family knew and even many at church had no clue until she showed up. Shop local, cruise resale and Craigslist and avoid it. Even I know data is being collected from me when I shop via my credit card and loyalty bonus cards, and that is just grocery shopping. Somehow Target nor my local store figured it out (usually you get coupons for infant diapers and the rest with the loyalty cards).


How unusual.

Also, am I the only one old enough to remember retail stores?


No, but people have become accustomed to having a larger selection than the rather small one retail stores offer.