Even more sobering, though, are the implications of Professor Vertesi’s decision to use Tor as a way of ensuring the anonymity of her web-browsing activities. She had a perfectly reasonable reason for doing this – to ensure that, as a mother-to-be, she was not tracked and targeted by online marketers.
But we know from the Snowden disclosures and other sources that Tor users are automatically regarded with suspicion by the NSA et al on the grounds that people who do not wish to leave a digital trail are obviously up to no good. The same goes for people who encrypt their emails.
This is why the industry response to protests about tracking is so inadequate. The market will fix the problem, the companies say, because if people don’t like being tracked then they can opt not to be. But the Vertesi experiment shows that if you take measures to avoid being tracked, then you increase the probability that you will be. Which is truly Kafkaesque.