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Sitemeter And Privacy

Dan Solove [1]over at Concurring Opinions:

Over at Civilities, Jon Garfunkel points out [2] that many blogs that use Site Meter [3] and other third-party visitor tracking services are publicly displaying a lot of information about their readers: IP addresses, domains, location information, referring URLs, and if they came to the site via a search engine, the search terms that took them to the blog. In his post, Jon notes that he tried an experiment at a blog that uses Site Meter and linked up IP addresses to specific anonymous or pseudonymous comments. That blog was ours.

Our Site Meter stats [4] are public. I really like allowing our readers to see our traffic stats, referring URLs, the search term queries that bring readers to our blog, and the location and domain information.

But Site Meter also lists the IP address of each visitor, something that the public really doesn’t need to see. An IP address is a unique numerical identifier that is assigned to every computer connected to the Web. It doesn’t reveal your name, but it can be used to trace back to the specific computer you used or be linked to your account with an ISP. In other words, your IP address can be used to find out who you are.

I fail to see why that’s an issue, frankly.  What’s the big deal about this stuff? This is supposed to be a method of suppressing free speech, supposedly.  I say ‘nonsense’. Look, friends, one of the qualities of free speech, as the founders envisioned such is having the courage to sign your name to something, and to have your name thus associated with the ideas you express.  We do the ideal of free speech no favors when we facilitate hiding behind some electronic wall or other.

Stop whining, America, and have the courage to stand up and be identified with your words and ideas.

Edit: Repair broken link- Bit