A leading privacy researcher has concluded that new technologies should have privacy controls built in up front in order to adequately protect our privacy. The researcher’s software, dubbed “Identity Angel,” combs through databases, cross references data, and identifies people who are at risk for having their information stolen. The people identified are then contacted and warned abort the potential for mischief. Although identity theft has been in decline since 2002, according to the article…

“The problem grows as technologies explode.”

A Little Privacy, Please (Scientific American)

Q&A with Latanya Sweeney (Scientific American)

The utility of the Internet is also its biggest weakness: data about anyone or anything is readily available to just about anyone. This should be a concern of all Web users as even the government is willing to use data that is supposed to be confidential in ways that were not intended, as was the case with U.S. Census data that the government used to round up Japanese-Americans during WWII. There are many options for protecting private data, such as disposable e-mail addresses that can be used to help foil spammers.

Solving the Web security challenge (CNET)

Strong Laws, Smart Tech Can Stop Abusive ‘Data Reuse’ (Wired)

Top 9 Disposable Email Address Services (about.com)

To me, privacy is a major concern for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that the right to privacy is implied in our constitution, an opinion affirmed by our court system. I also safeguard the privacy rights of students as security administrator of our student information system. I realize that there are security concerns in a post-9/11 world, but I believe that our founding fathers, who faced an enemy far stronger than we do now, would be on the privacy side of this debate. After all, it was Ben Franklin who said:

They who can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

How do you protect your privacy? Do you use techniques like “data poisoning,” (giving false information) or do you just trust the companies you give your data to? How much data should the government be trusted with, given their history of guaranteeing confidentiality, only to renege on those promises? Join the discussion.


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