Editorial: Internet data collection: The privacy line

From cellphones to the Internet, data collection is widespread. Can we limit it, and should we?Apple introduced its Macintosh computer in 1984 with a now-famous Super Bowl commercial that showed a lone rebel striking out against Big Brother. So it was ironic that researchers recently accused the company of an Orwellian intrusion into consumer privacy: Its iPhones and iPads appeared to be tracking their users’ movements. Apple eventually offered a rebuttal, and it hustled out a software update to address the concerns. Nevertheless, the episode helped strengthen the push in Congress for some basic consumer privacy protections.Such safeguards are amply justified, given the burgeoning business that has emerged around the collection and dissemination of personal information. But as the Apple controversy illustrates, there is an important distinction between collecting information about individuals and invading their privacy.

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