Microsoft develops 'big brother' software

We know who you are

The Inquirer | May, 23 2007
By Nick Farrell

BACKROOM BOFFINS at Microsoft have had a breakthrough in developing software which can accurately guess your name, age, gender and potentially even your location, by analysing patterns in your web browsing history.

The big idea is to prevent people from protecting their online identity by telling porkies about their personal details.

According to New Scientist, Volish software engineer Jian Hu from Microsoft's research lab in Beijing said that there are strong correlations between the sites that people visit and their personal characteristics. For example, 74 per cent of women seek health and medical information online, while only 58 per cent of men do. And 34 per cent of women surf the internet for information about religion, whereas 25 per cent of men do the same.

Another Volish boffin said that Hua-Jun Zeng said software could get its raw information from a new type of "cookie" program that records the pages visited or even your own cache of web pages. So far the software can only guess gender and age with any accuracy, the next stage is to predict your occupation, level of qualifications, and perhaps your location.