By Sara M. Watson, technology critic and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
What would it take to map the Internet? Not just the links, connecting the web of sites to each other, or some map of the network of networks. That’s hard enough in itself.
What if we were to map the flows of data around the Internet? Not just delivering packets, but what those packets contain, where they propagate, how they are passed on, and to what ends they are used.
Between our browser history, cookies, social platforms, sensors, brokers, and beyond, there are myriad parties with economic interests in our data. How those parties interconnect and trade in our data is, for the most part, opaque to us.