privacy

a.k.a. online privacy, publicness

Privacy is our right to freedom from unauthorized intrusion. People are starting to wonder if the dawn of the Internet era foretells the doom of personal privacy, due to the widespread use of e-mail, cookies, cell phones, and spyware, as well as checkout scanners, electronic tollbooths, closed-circuit surveillance cameras, and other monitoring technologies. All of these make it extremely easy to gather enormous amounts of information about individuals.

Consumer advocacy and privacy watchdog groups (see: EPIC) are calling for legislated protection, and many Web sites now post privacy policies disclosing how they collect, use, and share your personal information. However, with respect to laws protecting privacy "We're way behind the curve. Technology is way ahead of our ability as a society to think about the consequences" according to Richard Purcell, CEO of the Corporate Privacy Group and former Chief Privacy Officer for Microsoft.

The EFF's Top 12 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy:

1) Do not reveal personal information inadvertently.
2) Turn on cookie notices in your Web browser, and/or use cookie management software or infomediaries.
3) Keep a "clean" e-mail address.
4) Don't reveal personal details to strangers or just-met "friends".
5) Realize you may be monitored at work, avoid sending highly personal e-mail to mailing lists, and keep sensitive files on your home computer.
6) Beware sites that offer some sort of reward or prize in exchange for your contact information or other personal details.
7) Do not reply to spammers, for any reason.
8) Be conscious of Web security.
9) Be conscious of home computer security.
10) Examine privacy policies and seals.
11) Remember that YOU decide what information about yourself to reveal, when, why, and to whom.
12) Use encryption!

For more specific instruction on each of these tips, click on "more info" below.

Historical perspective: In 2013, when you buy your kids a smartphone, you are giving them a powerful weapon according to Leonard Sax of The Wall Street Journal. "The technology in their hand can be used for bullying, sexting, and life-damaging mistakes, “and the person most responsible for that behavior is you, the parent.” Consider the example of a sixth-grader who used her phone to send a fairly mild cleavage shot to her 14-year-old boyfriend. The photo went viral in the community, and the fallout was toxic. Harassed at school, labeled a “slut,” and shunned by former friends, the 12-year-old crumbled under the abuse—refusing to go to school, repeatedly cutting herself with a razor blade, and contemplating suicide. Similar incidents occur almost daily around the country. But parents are not helpless. We can install software on our kids’ smartphones that lets us monitor what photos and messages they post—and tell them we’re doing so. Isn’t that a violation of their privacy? No, because “there is no privacy online.” It’s extremely important for kids to know that any photo or message they send via the Internet may wind up being seen by the whole world—including Mom and Dad."


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