Whistleblower Edward Snowden's recent revelations of the federal government’s massive and intrusive surveillance of Americans have shown that major Internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have not only been compliant with the surveillance programs, but have themselves violated the privacy of their users.
The British publication Daily Mail reports, “Cyber-security company High-Tech Bridge set out to test the confidentiality of 50 of the biggest internet companies by using their systems to send a unique web address in private messages.”
Experts at the headquarters waited to see which companies clicked on that website found in the private messages during the 10-day operation. Six of the 50 companies were found to have opened the link, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
High-Tech Bridge chief executive Ilia Kolochenko said, “We found they were clicking on links that should be known only to the sender and recipient.”
Kolochenko indicated that the findings reveal that users have a right to voice some serious privacy concerns.
“If the links are being opened, we cannot be sure that the contents of messages are not also being read,” she added.
Kolochenko believes that the Internet giants clicked on the links in order to use the information obtained for marketing purposes.
“All the social network sites would like to know as much as possible about our hobbies and shopping habits because the information has a commercial value,” she continued.
And the fact that the other 44 Internet companies did not click on the link does not necessarily prove that they are innocent, she explained: “The fact that only a few companies were trapped does not mean others are not monitoring their customers. They may simply be using different techniques which are more difficult to detect.”
These findings follow disturbing revelations from German scientists earlier this year that Microsoft was spying on its customers through Skype instant messaging.
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