The United States Senate has started an investigation into the lack of privacy on the internet.  Missouri’s junior senator tells leaders of some of the most popular internet companies they need to shape up.

The scenario put forth by the committee asks what people would think if they went ot a mall and a machine recorded every store they went into, everything they looked at, everything they bought.   Committee leaders think the public would be outraged if this kind of thing happened in the mall. 

But committee members say that’s what happens when anybody goes onto the internet. Information is gathered without their permission and is used to create profiles that can help others deliver targeted messages to the consumers.

Senator McCaskill ran an experiment during the hearing, deciding the look for something she really doesn’t want. She switched to another internet site and almost immediately started getting ads for the product she had looked up earlier.  She says the experience was “creepy.”

She also targets coupons that can be printed from the net—that don’t just give discounts. She says they also provide the merchant with a lot of personal information about the customer.  She tells top officers of Google, Apple, Facebook and other sites they need to seriously address the invasion of privacy before the public really catches on to what’s happening.

 McCaskill quizzes Google representative 7:10 mp3