The Federal Trade Commission in the US published – as part of a much larger report on privacy – a fascinating chart on the various routes that various kinds of personal information take from the individual to end users of all kinds.
There is a note on the website of the Centre for Democracy and Technology about the chart.
The chart itself is in PDF.
There is a lot of information on the chart, so you will have to blow it up at least to double size to see it clearly (if your eyes are no better than mine…). It shows very nicely the flow of data, and how it can be aggregated and redistributed to unforeseen places. (The aggregation layer is one of the more impressive features of the chart, in my view.)
It is interesting to contemplate the degree to which Canadian (or any) privacy law might prevent or at least prohibit some of the data flows that the Americans take for granted. Of course just because the transfer of data is mentioned on an FTC chart does not mean that the transfer is legal or acceptable or free of oversight by the FTC or other bodies. Consider it a politically neutral ‘state of nature’ chart, with a ‘social contract’ or governmental regulation to be applied over top.
What do you think? Accurate? Disturbing? Routine?