“It’s common to worry about Big Brother. But what about … Big Brother’s brothers?” Megan Garber reports for The Atlantic. “As one company put it:”

The electronic age has given rise to what is now known as thousands of ‘Little Brothers,’ who perform Internet surveillance by collecting information to form electronic profiles about a user not through human eyes or through the lens of a camera but through data collection. This form of Internet surveillance via data collection is often referred to as ‘dataveillance.’ In a sense, thousands of ‘Little Brothers’ or automated programs can monitor virtually every action of users over the Internet.

“That colorful analysis comes not from an EFF essay or a New York Times op-ed, but from a patent — one just assigned to Apple,” Garber reports. “One of the properties Apple won in a February acquisition of patents from Novell, the technology allows the company to fight would-be Little Brothers by cloning users’ digital identities.”

Garber reports, “First, it creates a fake identity (and, actually, many fake identities) for the user. Second, it takes elements of users’ real identities — interests and the like, based on browser history and cookies — and merges those with elements that don’t reflect the identity of the user, creating a close-but-not-quote shadow identity. Third, it creates actual network activity based on those false interest areas, spreading them across the network. So: digital pollution, with a purpose.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Attribution: Yahoo News via Mashable.]