May 25, 2010 If you want online privacy, stay offline
Privacy has become a quaint concept with many, and a reviled principle with plenty of others.
Suffice it to say that online, you have no privacy. Your Internet service provider tracks your every move and archives your emails. Your intended anonymous visit to a website tells the website not only your Internet service provider’s identity, but also your modem’s identification number, which is just one step away from tying your website visit to your physical address and computer. Each time you accept online cookies automatically or not, more privacy is lost.
The concept of private email is a charade, particularly when you do not know who is snooping at your recipients’ and senders’ email. The examples are boundless of the absence of online privacy.
Now, here is another example. From looking at the detailed free YouTube statistics on my uploaded videos, I just learned that YouTube lets video uploaders know the user ID’s of people visiting uploaded YouTube videos. Of course, you have an option of surfing YouTube without signing in with a user ID and password, as much of a hassle as that might be.
Offline, the violations of your privacy also are endless. There are photocopiers that place watermarks on your copies, and photocopiers commonly retain the images you copy. Your credit and debit card transactions follow you everywhere. Your Social Security number has become a de facto government identification number. Your drivers license is constantly relied upon as a form of identification.
What to do about the severe erosions of privacy the extent of which even George Orwell may have barely imagined? Only if enough privacy lovers care and act effectively will privacy erosions be reversed. Otherwise, this is not a pleasant scalding hot bath to be in.
Jon Katz – Criminal defense and DWI defense lawyer practicing in Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland and beyond. 301-495-7755.