I’m picking up where I left off here. In the introduction I discussed online privacy and technology. What I didn’t mention in that initial post was an insight from Bruce Schneier. Large corporate institutions and the government (at least in the US) cooperate in order to evade the law. Public institutions are restricted from collecting some kinds of information whereas corporations are not. So you have a situation whereby cooperating they can both avoid the spirit of the law and keep to the letter, clever and despicable.
Moving onto our main topic. Where you do fit with respect to your privacy concerns? Pick one of the descriptions below that matches your world view then you will know which part will address your concerns.
I. I just love social media and telling all my friends where I am and what I’m doing. I think it is really cool that we can track each other on weekends with mobile apps because it makes it easier to hook up at clubs. I like getting free stuff so I fill out all the surveys for things I am interested in. I have nothing to hide. My life is an open book.
II. I live in a mostly free country. I am not too concerned about privacy. My life is pretty normal and perhaps boring to others. I don’t particularly like all the snooping and profiling by corporations just to try and sell me junk I don’t want or need. If I want something I will find it; you don’t need to find me.
III. I live in country with some censorship and constraints or I live in a mostly free country and despise the idea of surveillance. I consider myself free and I would like to access what I deem appropriate not the state. I realize that I will always leave some digital footprint but would like reduce my digital signature as much as possible.
IV. I am currently engaged in an activity which if discovered could land me in jail for a long period of time or possibly be executed. I’m a target of a state actor.
In this post I will take up the first case, the one in which a person sees themselves as open book, “I have nothing to hide” approach. Even if you have a relaxed attitude toward privacy, I assure you have something to hide. If you truly believe that you have nothing to hide then email me the following so I can add them as an update to this post:
- Current address
- Annual income
- Social Security Number
- Mother’s maiden name
- Credit Card numbers with expiration and the CVV/CVC code off the back.
It’s a fact that the more that can be known about you the more likely you are to be an easy mark for exploitation. What minimal things can be done to reduce your footprint? One empty your browser cache and clean all history from time to time. Install a product like Abine’s DoNotTrackMe. There are similar tools also; find one you like and stick with it. You can also enable “do not track me” in the browser but few companies will respect it. Let’s face it, most corporations are run by a self-serving, crass, and rapacious to the limits of the law executives. I have no hard proof but I would guess it works about as well as opt-out does for email. If you want to avoid marketing email you can set up an account exclusively for that or purchase a service from a company like Network Solutions.
With your mobile devices you should be very selective about which applications have access to your location. In general the “free” applications are most likely to abuse your privacy. Facebook and Google being the devil’s unholy twins. The information and profile these companies have on you is not as high a risk as when the data is stolen or lost due to incompetence. The more public your life, the more you need a service to protect you from identity theft. There are many good ones seek them out and purchase the service.