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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Getting Personal

To the Editors:

I read with great interest “Uniquely Me!” by Brian Hayes (March–April, Computing Science) on uniquely identifiable personal information. Hayes’s descriptions of the lengths to which companies go to capture these data and how incidental traits such as font choice can act as identifiers are fascinating. However, the article did not really differentiate between personal information that is fundamental and hard or impossible to change—such as one’s birthday, skin color, and college attended—and other more incidental information, such as browsing history and email address. Perhaps one can imagine limits on data collection related to the former but not the latter.

Mark Gerstein
New Haven, CT


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