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Ask Slashdot: Privacy Paranoia

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the break-out-the-foil-hats dept.

Privacy 323

dvbuser writes "The privacy debate is well known these days — organizations that track every click, geolocation, image, you name it. So now I sit here today monitoring my IP blockers, obfuscation algorithms, tor relay and each packet that goes in or out of every device that I operate. I even wear a hat always when I go outdoors, never carry a cell phone, and never look up (well, not all of that is true). But is it really that bad? Am I simply going to wind up completely out of touch with the modern world, where the next generation so boldly (for want of a better word) goes? What's wrong with targeted advertising? And if the feds can track my every movement — who cares? Sure, I don't want to be a victim of identity theft, and I like to download some p0rn every now and then, but I don't want to exclude myself from society, or spend copious hours trying to preserve it, merely from paranoia or at the very least from an overbearing sense of privacy. What does the average Slashdotter do to preserve their privacy (or what's left of it) while still making the most out of what the web has to offer?"

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323 comments

You misspelled pr0n (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428832)

pr0n!

Posting anonymous (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428838)

For obvious reasons.

Use aliases. (4, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428844)

Fuck Zuckerberg. Half of the people on my "friends" list use aliases. I use an alias.

And I don't put anything out there that I wouldn't be ashamed of my mom seeing.

Use the technology, but for gawd's sake cover your ass and don't be stupid. If you don't know how to maintain true anonymity (I'm behind 7 proxies!), then just use common sense.

--
BMO

Re:Use aliases. (3, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429004)

Use the technology, but for gawd's sake cover your ass and don't be stupid. If you don't know how to maintain true anonymity (I'm behind 7 proxies!), then just use common sense.

Agreed.

It's not the targeted advertisements that worry me. It's that the wrong people get information about me. That I get into embarrassing situations with pieces of information going to places they shouldn't without my approval. It might even be possible to extort people if you have the right info.

So, I would advise you (guy from TFA) that you don't need to wear the hat if you just go to the supermarket... but if you don't want your wife to find out that you have a mistress, and you pass some camera's on the way there, then the hat is advisable.

-- Remember: If you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from the government - but you still have a lot to hide. Why? Because it's none of their f*cking business.

Re:Use aliases. (3, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429162)

The corollary to that would perhaps be "you don't need to hide it if it's not worth anyone's while to find it"; admittedly with crowdsourcing, and the decreasing cost of automated data processing, it's pretty easy to pull individual data from the huge conglomeration that's produced every day, but the limiting requirement is still that somebody needs to take the time to act on that data.

I completely understand the principle of the original question, but I do think they need a little perspective on the practical side: the chance of anyone caring what you, as an individual, are doing is near-zero. Unless you've pissed off people in your monkeysphere [wikipedia.org] enough that they'll go digging for your name, there's probably not much chance of any of the information about you surfacing beyond its minuscule impact on aggregate marketing data. Those improbable edge-cases are maybe still worth taking some precaution against, but in general it's not worth too much worry. The real question, of course, is whether you truly care about the principle above and beyond any practical danger it poses to you?

Re:Use aliases. (2)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429010)

And I don't put anything out there that I wouldn't be ashamed of my mom seeing.

Friend your mom like I did and your problem is solved! :)

I do use Facebook, but mostly as a big contact list. It's great when we travel near where some infrequently-contacted cousin lives and I can just lift their contact info from Facebook rather than calling around trying to update my long-out-of-date address book. It's also nice to see what someone's kids look like and such without having to sift through my emails looking for that link to Picasa/Kodak/etc.

Anyway, if I were doing such a thing that I needed privacy, I'd probably use someone else's connection - and not the same connection every time. I'd pay for services with pre-paid credit cards bought with cash while wearing a hoodie and sunglasses. One of the services I would first purchase would be an out-of-country VPN, and I'd frequently change accounts. I'd consider having a special PC dedicated just to the activity that needed so much privacy, and while on that PC I'd assume a completely different identity. While doing said activity, make sure the phone in your pocket is off! And don't use EasyPass. If I had the financial means, I'd probably also rotate phones/computers.

That would at least set up some roadblocks, but I don't do any of that - I think the worst thing I do online is subscribe to Giganews.

Re:Use aliases. (1, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429106)

And I don't put anything out there that I wouldn't be ashamed of my mom seeing.

Friend your mom like I did and your problem is solved! :)

You friended HIS mom?!?!? Duuuude, that's soooo wrong!

Re:Use aliases. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429222)

Why is it wrong, his mom is HOT!

Re:Use aliases. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429314)

BWA-Ha-Ha-Ha-Hah-Ha-Hah-Ha-Ha-Ha ad nauseum

Re:Use aliases. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429016)

I'm not taking advise from someone who is selling my information and neither from someone who gets behind 7 proxies(!) to post on a newssite.

Re:Use aliases. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429024)

It's not just your facebook alias. Given the amount of tracking tools available for companies out there, it wouldn't be impossible to follow you along the internet to a site where you've input your real name.

Re:Use aliases. (2)

blackfrancis75 (911664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429232)

And I don't put anything out there that I wouldn't be ashamed of my mom seeing.

Wait... you only post stuff that you know will offend your Mother!?
That's just mean!

Re:Use aliases. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429390)

But today, there is a risk in posting anything that might offend anyone. What if your employer finds it? What if your potential future employer finds it while googling on candidates for the job? It isn't advisible to say anything at all under your real name any more, not when everything is archived and googleable. There is nothing you can say on any issue remotely political without the risk of upsetting someone, and that someone may be your now-or-future co-worker or boss.

Re:Use aliases. (2)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429242)

"If you don't know how to maintain true anonymity (I'm behind 7 proxies!)"

Each of which logs your every click...

obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428846)

What does the average slashdotter do to preserve their privacy (or what's left of it) while still making the most out of what the web has to offer?

Post AC, duh!

Re:obvious (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428958)

> > What does the average slashdotter do to preserve their privacy

> Post AC, duh!

Using HTTP and without a proxy...no, you don't post AC!

Regards,

Your ISP, TLA, etc.

Re:obvious (1)

pla (258480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429252)

Using HTTP and without a proxy...no, you don't post AC!

True, but I think we have some reasonable middle-ground to occupy here...

Since the early days of the internet, I have used aliases online. I have taken care to use encrypted protocols whenever possible, and thoroughly separate my personal accounts from my work accounts from my random-online-crap accounts. And when necessary, I know how to guarantee "real" online anonymity, though the effort almost always outweighs the benefits.

Still, I have no delusions of online privacy for the vast majority of what I do. If a random TLA government agency took an interest in me, they could certainly correlate most of my various online activities. But at what level of effort? Put simply, I don't interest anyone enough to bother; jumping through hoops to obfuscate my activity on a regular basis would arguably make me a more interesting target.

So to answer the FP author - Don't bother. Take a few basic precautions, but just realize that in the modern world, your privacy depends almost entirely on blending into the background noise, not on adopting increasingly complex technological means of concealment.

Was privacy evr a right? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428850)

Well, the right to privacy was never a right at all, but a privilege. Rights can't be revoked or suspended for convenience.

Re:Was privacy ever a right? (5, Interesting)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429194)

I've changed my mind slightly on this topic after I read about a guy who knew the Feds were trying to keep tabs on him. He publicly shared his geo-information for literally everywhere he went. Blogged publicly about everything he did and everyone he talked to. Tweeted about every little thing he did. And he had as many friends as would have him. This put his entire life out for the public record. This kept the Feds from privately nabbing him and then making up their own story about his life and all of the insidious things they wanted to finger him for.

I, now, just assume that if the Feds want to get me they will. If they want any info about me they can get it. So who am I fooling by hiding my activity? I would only be making it easier for them to fabricate the narrative of my life and then pin it on me. A very private lifestyle makes it easy for them to get away with it since nobody knows anything about me and could prove otherwise.

So now I love Google and everything Google Apps. I love my Android phone. I think I'm sort of boring so I'm not the type who uses Facebook much anyway (but I do have an account). I've got a Twitter account but have never really gotten into tweeting. My best defense of my normal, innocent life is for me to be social and use the Internet to control and communicate the narrative of my life.

Re:Was privacy ever a right? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429224)

So ... the best way to hide from the FBI is to not give them a reason to want to find you?

Re:Was privacy evr a right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429248)

All rights not granted to the Federal government are reserved for the states and the people. Attitudes like yours is specifically why the a number of the Founders of this country were against The Bill of Rights. They knew that idiots at some point would try to claim that "if it's not in the Bill of Rights you don't have that right!". This is why the 10th Amendment exists but idiots like you and idiots in the SCOTUS like Scalia and Thomas seem to conveniently want to gloss over this.

Re:Was privacy evr a right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429456)

Rights can't be revoked or suspended for convenience.

Actually, they can.

Its not a problem of privacy. (5, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428852)

Its what other people do with your information.

would you really care if the society didnt have any bias in regard to downloading porn, and found out that you have been downloading porn ? no.

its because society is acting/reacting on that information that you are desiring to have privacy. if nobody cared that your ass was bare or not, you wouldnt hesitate from going about naked. which was the case in early days of mankind. then we developed a bias that says asses should be covered. despite that the ass is still there, hidden, and everybody knows it.

same goes for govt. why would you care if govt. know what you did, if the govt. was not going to do anything bad with that information ? no.

so problem is not hiding what you are doing. problem is out there, in the society and government and so on. (actually govt. is included in society).

solution of this is ultimate transparency. nothing should be hidden, nothing should be judged if it doesnt harm another human being. this also goes for governments. there should be no secrets.

there will remain no need for privacy or secrecy then.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (5, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428930)

The big thing is your actual privacy hasn't really changed in the last 100 years. access to public information has simply gotten easier.

People never realized just how much of their "private" life was actually public. I have worked with companies that owned complete sets of phone books. Not the simple white pages you see but the $100 a volume hard cover reverse look up by phone number, or address volumes. This was public information for the last 50 years. you just had to pay for access, as it was expensive to compile into usable data. Now it is cheap to do so and so people are suddenly aware of how much of their supposedly "private" lives are actually public and they get all scared and panicky.

If you live in a glass house you don't walk around naked unless you want the neighbors to see your naked body.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429104)

> access to public information has simply gotten easier.

Become easier. Become.

There are plenty of specific verbs in the English lexicon. Let's not cease using them through laziness and lack of imagination.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (3, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429288)

If you live in a glass house you don't walk around naked unless you want the neighbors to see your naked body.

In other words, if you're somehow forced to move to a glass house, you pretty much lose the option of going around naked. People are rightly scared about that. There is the other side of the coin of total transparency: it may well be that society does not stop caring about some of the stuff hitherto done privately or anonymously; but continue to judge it harshly or even prosecute it.

For example: the online political debates are much more open, frank and no-holds-barred than before; not just because of the instant nature of online debates, but also because people can partake anonymously in most cases. If we're forced to post under our own names, then even the things that we are not afraid to admit to or mention in the company of friends or colleagues can affect our jobs or our lives once it is committed online for the world to see. There are already countless examples of people losing their jobs or getting in trouble over more or less innocent online posts. This means that the online debate will likely become much more reserved, sedate, and "safe". Personally I think that's a big loss.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429346)

This is pretty true.

The main example that I see is people getting into trouble because someone else at the party they went to put an incriminating photo on facebook. Or a google search revealing public information about your personal life to an employer.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428940)

I take it you've read The Light of Other Days .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Light_of_Other_Days [wikipedia.org]

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429044)

I was just about to post a link to that - it's as good a take on the privacy argument as I've seen anywhere, well worth reading even if you end up disagreeing. I really don't think we're going to get very far trying to rein in government (and large company) surveillance of us, so it seems to me that rather than spending time and effort trying that tack, we might actually be better off just pushing for more reciprocal surveillance instead. All of their arguments (especially the classic "if you've done nothing wrong, you won't mind us watching") work just as well in reverse, and it might actually be better for society if we do realise that we're basically all as bad as each other.

I read Brin, too. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428976)

nothing should be hidden, nothing should be judged if it doesnt harm another human being. this also goes for governments. there should be no secrets.

Tell that to a gay guy who just got his ass kicked by homophobes.

Tell that to a recovered alcoholic or drug addict (FU AA, people can recover - I've seen it!) who got his shit together but can't get a job or make social contacts.

Or tell that to an atheist who is considered not to have an "values" and therefore can't get a job. Yeah, try and prove it - illegal my ass!

No thanks, people are cruel, shallow and small minded.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428992)

That only works when you're part of the majority. But everyone is part of some minority. If given enough access to your personal life anyone can find a reason to discriminate against you. The masses are ignorant to the legacy they are leaving behind and it is quite possible that in the future we elect a despot into office that uses the decades of personal information collected by these service to control the populace.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429048)

...its because society is acting/reacting on that information...

Yay! Somebody else gets it.. Yes, always address the response. And it's exactly the same when dealing with "offensive", "slanderous", or "libelous" speech, or any hearsay. But... it's much more convenient to attack a single target. The "leader", so to speak.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (3, Insightful)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429068)

Except that almost every power base in the world (government, Religion, Corporations, schools, the militiary, cliques, clubs, etc operates on the basis of limiting your options and hiding information and judging other people.

Transparency is a laudable goal, but until we as a race can exceed our current ability, all transparency will do is ultimately liimit society**. People will revert to the pre-industrial village era where everyone knew everyones business and the local moral police came down hard on people who went out of the norm.

Except this will not be a local envelope, it will be national at least and in some cases global. We will have the LEAST tolerant and MOSt vocal among us trying to limit everything we do.

** I am speaking of transparency at an individual level, not at a corporate or governmental level.
there is also the profit issue and the creepy issue which are completely different but no less compelling arguments.

Re:Its not a problem of privacy. (1)

scruffy (29773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429262)

solution of this is ultimate transparency.

That is unrealistic. People will always want to keep secrets.

I think (a part of) a solution is to limit discrimination based on personal information. My car insurance rates should be based on whether I have been a safe driver or not (past accidents, traffic violations, and so on), not on personal information that correlate with safe driving (credit report, home ownership, and so on). My company should retain/fire me based on my job performance, not on what I do or say off the job.

The boundaries are not so clear-cut, but I think the principle should be in place.

Identity theft is not worth the risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429294)

Speaking as a victim of Identity theft I can tell you it's consequences can be FAR beyond anything you can imagine. A ruined credit rating is a sticky thing that can impede your job search and prevent you from buying a home at a decent interest rate. If you are the bread winner this can affect your family, or your attractiveness to a mate. It's psychologically chilling, perhaps a little like being raped but by forces unseen that for all you know might come back.

I don't know anyone else who had their identity stolen so I assume it must be rare. But it's getting increasingly easy as all your accounts get tied to your e-mail for password recovery and your SS becomes public knowledge.

Not Enough (1)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428854)

If your hat isn't foil lined, they've already got you.

Re:Not Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429028)

And if it is, they know where you buy your tin foil.

Re:Not Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429340)

But, but... what kind of foil? The extensive literature I've read on the Internets is very confusing. There seems to be no consensus at all on what type of foil works and what doesn't, whether to put the shiny side out or inwards, whether it wears out and has to be replaced versus it lasts forever, et cetera. How is a paranoid shut-in supposed to figure all of this stuff out????

a good search engine: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428866)

Re:a good search engine: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429006)

Yes kind sir, please give me more links. I love clicking on links submitted by anon cowards, especially when they appear offtopic!

Re:a good search engine: (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429128)

Another search engine claiming to take your privacy serious:

https://startingpage.com/ [startingpage.com]

Interesting feature (see settings) is the ability to save your search preferences without a cookie by using a generated URL, which you then use for your Bookmark.
Also of note is the proxy view option of search results.

What does the average Slashdotter do (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428872)

"What does the average Slashdotter do to preserve their privacy (or what's left of it) while still making the most out of what the web has to offer?"

Post as AC?

I've got nothing to hide! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428886)

See?

Resistance is futile (5, Interesting)

manicbutt (162342) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428888)

Live openly, with integrity. Be interesting. Post under your real name. The rest will take care of itself.

If you're a dick in real life, people won't need to look on the internet for confirmation, they'll know already.

Re:Resistance is futile (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429138)

Live openly, with integrity. Be interesting. Post under your real name. The rest will take care of itself.

If you're a dick in real life, people won't need to look on the internet for confirmation, they'll know already.

Not necessarily.

For an alternative viewpoint, look at the popularity of homeowners associations. Personally, I hate them because if my neighbor is a lunatic whom won't minimally maintain his property, maybe because he drinks all day (true story!), I really don't care about how his property looks, I want to know if he's a lunatic (so as to avoid him, tell the kids to look out for him, avoid being on the roads at the same time as him, etc). Its a signal. Covering it up with a HOA works in direct opposition to my interests.

Remember the outcry about GTA and weirdos whom "played the game" by knifing women in the back all day, despite that having nothing to do with progressing in the game and actually works against you? I really want to know whom is a lunatic, so as to avoid them, and keep my women away from him. However, all the Oprah viewers were horrified to find out they have relatives or neighbors or coworkers who were nuts, so their solution is to try to ban the game, so they won't know, therefore, at least from a moron's point of view, its all good.

Using similar logic, the vast steaming masses don't want to know what can hurt them, w/ regards to others on facebook or whatever, so they would rather cover it all up so we can't see it. I want to know if people around me are nuts, its just that 99% of the population disagrees with me in that regard.

The vast majority really don't want to know if their kids school bus driver is a smoking member of norml via facebook or tee shirts or whatever. They know they are supposed to say they want to know, but they really don't want to know. And that internal tension in themselves is why they get all uncomfortable about this topic.

Re:Resistance is futile (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429244)

I realize English is not everyone's first language on /., but I wanted to point out that in all three uses of whom, it should have been who.

Re:Resistance is futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429236)

Fuck you, buddy. I want to live closedly, with no integrity.

Re:Resistance is futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429446)

Live openly, with integrity. Be interesting. Post under your real name. The rest will take care of itself.

If you're a dick in real life, people won't need to look on the internet for confirmation, they'll know already.

Agreed. There really is no other way.

It is the cost of "participation" (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428892)

More and more, there is a cost of participation in the modern world. All of the new things we have started to enjoy since the invention of the automobile have come with strings attached. Unless you are a thriving member of the "homeless" you can't earn a single dollar without the government being aware of it. (Which always makes me wonder why we have to voluntarily file taxes? Why can't they just generate a bill or refund based on the numbers they have and then let us file an appeal if we disagree? After all, if THEY disagree after we file, it's a whole lot more hell and a lot more waste of government resources as well.)

This is how we find ourselves in the state we have now. Both government and business (which some see as two sides of the same coin) have an interest in stripping the public of its privacy, security and rights and do so on a continuously eroding basis. I just wonder how far things can really go before the people really start to feel the pinch? So far, I don't really feel the pinch... just angst over what I see happening.

Re:It is the cost of "participation" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428970)

People earn money without the government knowing all the time. If you're an independant contractor and make less than I think $6k the company isn't required to report you. So if you have a client a month, then you could earn a decent living that the IRS never knows about.

Re:It is the cost of "participation" (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429160)

That is until you start spending your money. Is it really necessary to remind you that there are all sorts of red flags and required reporting that goes on when someone pays for things in cash? The amount of cash requiring a report to the government varies and keeps getting smaller and smaller. Not only that, but being found in possession of a "significant" amount of cash often result in confiscation without charges, due process and most often without return to the rightful owner.

Cash is effectively illegal. Bank account information is available to the government at any time.

Re:It is the cost of "participation" (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429268)

I think next time I upgrade my laptop I'm going to pay in cash to see if I get any odd reactions.

I did this back in 2003 (Powerbook G4, around $2400 in cash) just for kicks; the folks at the Apple Store didn't even bat an *eye*.

Maybe the amount has to be larger.

Re:It is the cost of "participation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429082)

(Which always makes me wonder why we have to voluntarily file taxes? Why can't they just generate a bill or refund based on the numbers they have and then let us file an appeal if we disagree? After all, if THEY disagree after we file, it's a whole lot more hell and a lot more waste of government resources as well.)

It has to be complicated enough to have loopholes for the people with enough money to exploit them.

Re:It is the cost of "participation" (1)

merlock18 (1533631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429208)

Why can't they just generate a bill or refund based on the numbers they have and then let us file an appeal if we disagree?
Scumbags need to be able to not pay their taxes for years and dispute the total amount due, paying pennies on the dollar. Then they can complain about tax breaks for the rich while receiving an Income Tax Credit the next year. Redistribution of wealth to the oh-so-poor and helpless lower class is important.

Re:It is the cost of "participation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429240)

Which always makes me wonder why we have to voluntarily file taxes? Why can't they just generate a bill or refund based on the numbers they have and then let us file an appeal if we disagree? After all, if THEY disagree after we file, it's a whole lot more hell and a lot more waste of government resources as well.

That's actually how it works on this corner of the world (Finland): you get a pre-filled tax proposal based on the government's data, and only need to file if there's something to correct or add (deductions etc.). Works quite well IMHO.

Security through Obscurity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428898)

I know in the technical world, "security through obscurity" is a huge red flag. But in the meatworld, it's a beautiful strategy.

So what if you're tracked? Everyone else is too. Human beings generate so much data that it is infeasible to process it. Even if you can process it, there isn't another human who can comprehend it all.

You're just a data point in a huge dataset. You're upset about being in the dataset, until you realize just how large and vast the dataset is. You strive for 0 involvement the same way an OCD person strives for perfectly parallel utensils. Both are impossible.

Simply learn to accept you are a small drop in a very large pond. It's not that scary.

Re:Security through Obscurity (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429412)

I keep my utensils perfectly aligned in a vacuum chamber, using super conducting magnets you insensitive clod!

privacy (1)

arnodf (1310501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428904)

I find myself giving up more and more privacy and accepting privacy policies I look over a bit (still better than not reading at all) even though I'm quite concerned about my privacy. I've been telling my mother for months now that she shouldn't create a facebook account and every week she asks it again because she really wants to use it.
I just don't know anymore

Preserving privacy (1)

pantherace (165052) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428908)

The oldest method: Don't be interesting.

While a bit tongue in cheek, it's a fairly good way. Even if your data is in whatever databases, if there's no use of it, then it might as well not exist.

Unfortunately, that works both ways in some cases. I keep hearing about Charlie Sheen. I decided to look a little last night and no one has made a coherent summary of it. Better yet, could everyone stop talking about him?

Granted, that won't prevent automated things like targeted advertising. However, if you haven't yet developed a mental filter for advertising, I'd get started, it helps on so many things. In fact, if not for being a method for infection/malware, I probably wouldn't use adblock. (That I got tired of the Flash/PDF ads that tried to infect my machine was the ultimate catalyst for that. Too bad for sites that are ad based, but there are enough sleazy ads that they lose out.)

Re:Preserving privacy (1)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429122)

The data is always useful to someone. Especially someone trying to make money. If you are the most boring person on earth and eat bread and water, walk to work, and only ride a bike as a hobby, the bread water, and bike people are going to be all over you. If you are the most typical person who watch reality TV, drive 8.3 miles to work, has 2.5 kids and a slightly overweight frigid wife....well you are in the demographic for a LOT of vendors.

Someone will always want that info.

as someone said above. The best you can do without dropping of fthe grid is keep the things that are really important to you off any digital stack.(website, harddrive, etc)

Nothing really... (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428912)

...I use an SSH tunnel now and then just to circumvent certain limits of a certain video delivery service but other than that I don't care.
I also keep most of my pictures on Facebook where I have only 6-7 friends (my *real* and closest friends); so Facebook wants to track me and has access to a few pictures of me on vacation or a couple of videos of me jamming with my friends, so what...
All the other people that were on the same vacation spot probably have my face in the background of their photos as well.
My on-line handle is also closely linked to my real identity and anyone can find my work experience on LinkedIn.

Of course I protect the things that matter, my private keys, passwords, banking data etc...

Re:Nothing really... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429190)

I think all of it really matters. I'm not saying that you need to keep everything private and be anonymous, but I think the principle is the important part. You should be able to keep things private and be anonymous when you need to be. Some of those rights seem to be being eroded lately.

A better word(s) (1)

merlock18 (1533631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428914)

"Tread" or "sprints toward."

If you've ever handled a penny, the government's got your DNA on file."
The Simpsons - Who shot Mr. Burns Pt. 2

What does the average Slashdotter do to preserve t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428924)

>What does the average Slashdotter do to preserve their privacy?

stay in his basement...

Here's what I do... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428980)

What does the average Slashdotter do to preserve their privacy (or what's left of it) while still making the most out of what the web has to offer?"

Ensuring idiots like you never get into any decision making positions regarding privacy.

Re:Here's what I do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429170)

You know why people care so much about Privacy? Because the threats have gotten that bad. You can't even even ask for Universal Studios Privacy Policy when they suddenly spring on you the requirement of getting your fingerprints on entry without them banning you for all associated and partnered tourism areas across the country as well as requesting websites take down your bad reviews about them (Looking at you TripAdvisor). You can't even give your name any more without someone screwing you over.

My god, I've been getting the wrong st0rff (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428982)

P0rn, no wonder, I've been getting pr0n all these years. No wonder its all a bit tame.

Airplane mode save? (1)

asnelt (1837090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428986)

I think this is the right place for a question which I posted too late to another story. I am also a bit paranoid and don't like the idea of being trackable. For this reason I typically have my phone in airplane mode and turn off this mode when I expect phone calls or want to browse / check mails. I still do not really trust the proprietary firmware not to transmit any signals. I would really like to check whether it still transmits anything in airplane mode. Does anybody know an easy and inexpensive way of how to do that? Please don't propose any instructions involving tin foil.

With regard to this story, I think everyone should try to keep as much privacy as is acceptable for him/her. It always means not participating in some things like social networks or cell phones.

I'm banking on society changing. (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428994)

Not very soon, but I'm placing my bet on the assumption that once the children of the digital age (mostly Gen-Y and some younger Gen-Xers) become the majority, people will care less about privacy because there will be less to hide or be ashamed of, hopefully because at that point, a majority of people will become used to freely sharing information about themselves. Hopefully it also means that I can start seeing ads that are interesting to me.

Re:I'm banking on society changing. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429494)

Not very soon, but I'm placing my bet on the assumption that once the children of the digital age (mostly Gen-Y and some younger Gen-Xers) become the majority, people will care less about ... because there will be less to hide or be ashamed of, hopefully because at that point, a majority of people....

"They" said the same things about my parent's generation and smoking weed. By the time I become an adult they'll be selling it in vending machines right next to the Marlboros. Didn't quite turn out that way, did it?

Create a fake personna (3, Insightful)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429034)

I don't really care about "the feds", I care more about some nutcase or group (Westboro baptist church, 4chan, etc) who might take umbrage at my religion, what I do, who I work for, where I live, what I consume, or mis-take some random sarcastic comment that I might make for a real comment.
So for the most part, I made up a couple of fake names a LONG time ago (1990s) and use them for most of my stuff on the web (eg: reddit, facebook, gmail). Think "Rory Bellows" = "Krusty the Clown" = "Herschel Krustofski"
I occasionally use my real name (eg: on Slashdot) on technical forums because I know co-workers and perhaps future employers are going to be Googling for my real name and I want to appear to know what I'm talking about....haha

The important thing is that your are AWARE of the power of Google/Bing in searching, and just in general, the power of technology in tracking you. buy a new pay-as-you-go cellphone each year. go through a proxy or two when surfing the web... but don't just be paranoid, have FUN and be paranoid... think of yourself as Truman Burbank.

Re:Create a fake personna (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429490)

paranoid guide for mobile phones: the mobile itself has a code and your sim has a code, so don't overlap them if you're paranoid.

maybe the reason a lot of folk are bothered by loss of privacy is that they got used to that their friends in different circles couldn't interact so they could re-invent themselfs in those circles as different people.. I'm pretty sure everyone knows a few of the type, if they're social people, the same people who start a new chapter in life five times a year. it was a fallacy that it could work even pre-internet though.

Important enough? (1)

louic (1841824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429036)

I am not arrogant enough to think that I am so important that my privacy needs protecting. But I never post my credit card number in my facebook status, and only post what I did, never what I am going to do so that people with bad intentions cannot anticipate when I am away from my house (of which they cannot find the address anyway). That should be enough.

Re:Important enough? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429434)

(of which they cannot find the address anyway)

Unless its a trick question and you're homeless, that seems a wee tiny bit optimistic.

Just disable Javascript. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429040)

Porn downloads work also with Javascript disabled :-D

Uselessness (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429088)

I realise that in ask slashdot you were probably looking for geek/technical replies, so feel free to ignore this. I think the Tao principle of uselessness is the best solution to both privacy and security. The parable of the useless tree [blogspot.com] illustrates this well. If you have no money, you give out all your intellectual property free on the internet, and you don't have a need for expensive possessions, there should be no need for privacy and security. Naturally in the real world this is more a guideline than foolproof rule, to be useless to the US government you have to either have no interest in any kind of politics, or live in a country who's politics don't interest them. With the current economic rules regarding debt it has become virtually impossible to be useless to big corporations. But nevertheless I think it is an important principle to take into account when working out how to secure yourself. Think about how you are most useful to people who would harm you to use you, and see if there are ways you can become less useful to them.

I was falsely accused of rape, custody battle (3, Interesting)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429112)

I *wish* Google latitude / check-in and Android smartphones with GPS were around ten years ago, it would have made my case so much simpler, and prosecuting her so much easier.

Let's face it, opting out doesn't mean you turn into a ghost that nobody tracks, so you may as well opt in, control it, and who knows, one day it may save your ass....

Re:I was falsely accused of rape, custody battle (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429392)

You'd have to prove you're the one using the phone, or even worse, think of the fun if your phone was "borrowed" and you didn't notice.
Her side would be all about the tired old "computers never lie" while opening a copy of "paint" to edit the screen capture.

Technological solutions to social problems never really work. Might help a little, maybe, maybe not.

One scenario (1)

return 42 (459012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429120)

Step 1: Senator has an adulterous liaison. One or more federal agencies film it.
Step 2: Senator receives photographs of adulterous liaison plus anonymous demand to vote a certain way on not-very-important legislation.
Step 3: Senator caves.
Step 4: Repeat Steps 2-3 with increasingly important legislation, combined with threat to reveal previous influenced votes as needed.
Step 5: Under sufficient pressure, Senator eventually votes to increase powers of agencies, weaken constitutional protections, etc.

Multiply by several senators, congressmen, and judges.

Don't do anything controversial and you'll be fine (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429124)

Don't worry about it. As long as you don't do anything controversial, you don't have anything to hide. Examples of what is controversial really vary. Sometimes it's saying something that's politically wrong (e.g., supporting communists, socialists, any minor party, or the wrong major party), or religiously wrong (taking an interest in an unpopular religion, such as Islam currently, or Judaism historically or in some places), or socially wrong (e.g., sexual practices that your neighbors might disapprove of, even if they do it themselves; or humor or fiction that's politically 'incorrect'). It also depends on who is looking; for example, taking the wrong side of the health care debate might discourage some employers, or of the energy debate might discourage others; what if someone with authority has strong feelings about Guantanamo -- maybe it's better to avoid issues like that; and remember that what's politically incorrect can change -- what's ok today might be wrong tomorrow. What's unremarkable today might be a Congressional hearing [nytimes.com] tomorrow. When people ask, 'which side are you on?', just be sure you've chosen the right one. Also, make sure it's unambiguous; if someone can misinterpret it they probably will, especially if they don't like you.

Other than that, just do whatever you want online. As long as you do nothing wrong, there is no reason private companies can't log everything you do. In fact, use my computer last thing at night and first thing every morning, so the log is accurate about when I'm sleeping.

Worry about Mallory not Gordon. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429132)

Gordon cannot be stopped. Gordon can and must see all or Gordon will destroy, torture, and kill all.

So you also have Mallory. When you deal with Gordon you know Gordon's name. You know who Gordon works for. You know Gordon. When you are dealing with Mallory, you don't know who Mallory is. You don't know Mallory's motivations. You don't know Mallory.

The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. You know Gordon is a part of a necessary evil. Mallory could be your rival, your competitor, or just a predator. So while Gordon has to be trained and typically has some orders he is following, all the way up a chain of command, and has selfless motivations, Mallory may have entirely selfish motivations.

america deciding just how bad islam is for us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429134)

"the hearings will be fair", was the quote. hearing what? do they have to stop being them or we'll do something to them? is there going to be hearings about just how bad our religious crusader zealot/corepirate nazi backed political system might be for us? will they be fair? privacy? many of us are/will be living in rubble? excuse my mess, i'm leaking all over from the anti-aircraft rounds? sheesh. you maintain the right to remain silent, so that's good?

Unique identity (1)

emagery (914122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429136)

I do find myself wanting some kind of mobile perma-token that goes to each internet accessing individual. Hi, I am E341-AA0B-C3A9-5505-30FF, and my internet access account began on July 3, 2013! I am male, 27 years old, etc. My token knows that I exist, that only I belong to this token, that I am certifiably human, and maybe that I've demonstrated a preference for buying Anime from Amazon and invest heavily in Silver Mint. -- point being, I don't necessarily think such a token should really store sensitive information about identity, per se... but that it can prove that you are who you say you are when online in some verifiable and prohibitively difficult to steal kind of way (at least it terms of the minimalistic rewards such theft grants). When you read a review on an apartment or a product or a service... when someone trolls you on a forum... etc... you can know first that it's not a machine and second that that person will be accountable for any false information they give. I should think this would even be applicable to voting, taxation, etc. I just can't help getting past the notion that in a communicable universe where one can trust the content they encounter and people are liable for their actions, not only will there be less cybercrime, spamming, etc, but also less incentive to want to engage in them as well.

Re:Unique identity (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429230)

That's what public/private keys are for, and digital signatures...

Having them for proving identity is one thing, forcing them on each and every connection and thus not allowing anyone to post anonymously is quite another. Privacy issues, yadda yadda.

It's not going to matter anyways (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429188)

You information paranoid freaks make me sick. How many times do I have to say it? The whole freaking World is going to melt down to chaos soon. Keep hording your information...I'm hording guns, knives, and bullets. We'll see who was right soon enough. BURN BABY BURN!!!! It's all going down!!!

if you spy me (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429192)

you'd have to spy me 24/7 and even then you'd come out puzzled and depressed... and it would be an awful bad investment as far as returns are concerned. the better it would be the harder time they'd have even selling targeted adverts. and you'd have to do it over multiple social networks or whatever you want to call bbs's, irc, forums and the internet as a whole. that's one thing about stasi style surveillance, it's an extremely boring and devastating career path to start doing it to random people and would take an extreme number of real human beings to go through the stuff.

but the problem mobile advertising companies have, it's not your privacy, it's some starving guys in china, taiwan or wherever who are going to game the system, that it would be more fair and more tied to the "real" targeted person than your usual clicks. in the end advertisers are going to care about generated sales though.

and as far as porno goes - if you're a free man, who cares? ever thought of living honestly? you can get away with a lot these days if you live in the west. that's what freedom is, that nobody is going to oust you just for having a collection of erotic material. though, I got a new explanation, it's an anatomy collection. which is actually sort of true, I can't afford the time or money to observe real models and it would be pretty hard to find someone who could make all the spontaneous facial expressions too and the models are usually naked, usually with first muscles relaxed and the camera goes through many angles. leonardo would be jealous. midgets too. but it's impossible for anyone to try to pile crap on me for having it.

anyways, if you want to fool ip geolocation shitters, use a mobile connection. but if you're so deep that you wear a hat everytime you go out for privacy, you're easily distinguished by wearing that hat and you're already so far off that you're actually very easy to keep surveillance on since you have habits, the people in your neighborhood will start paying attention to you precisely for acting that way and this will just feed your paranoia and some of the people in your neighborhood will remember you all the same no matter what you do, the same as you will remember some of them and that's just normal.

"But is it really that bad?" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429202)

No.

> What's wrong with targeted advertising?

I don't know. I've never seen any.

> And if the feds can track my every movement â" who cares?

Depends on who you are. I don't believe that they track very many people: they simply have no reason to. If they are tracking me they are fools. Of course, if I did think that they might want to track me I certainly would not discuss it here nor am I endorsing what tracking they do .

> What does the average Slashdotter do to preserve their privacy...

Squall indignantly about what an outrage it all is while refusing to inconvenience himself in the slightest in order to protect his "details" (most of which are matters of public record).

Try not caring (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429210)

Just trust that the big guys in charge are not going to do the wrong thing (ok, not likely, but try to think that way and you'll feel better), and remember that the amount of information flowing over the internet pipes is simply massive. Yes, they can use filtering and regular-expression-type searches to filter out your data, but firstly they have to want to filter out your data. And they really don't care if people are looking at pr0n (unless there are kids involved). Individuals don't matter to them, for the most part. Global trends do matter (especially to advertisers), but individuals don't.

Break the law, do stuff that you should do, and yes you might raise a red flag. But being a normal person (I assume!), what cause to they have to track anything you do?

You are insignificant. Remember that, and feel joy in it.

PGP users on mailing lists make me laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429226)

You know who they are, every post by a PGP user has that ugly header and footer.

Oh no! Someone might impersonate you on a mailing list. Get real.

It's a tideous task (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429254)

From regular cookies, 1-by-1 pixel images, Facebook like-buttons and Flash cookies, I really don't know what to do anymore. Well, at least they behave like client-side spyware, so I just need to turn my stupid browser into a clever one. Suggestions?

Its a FAD (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429270)

Its a fad. Remember "that guy" whom wanted all kinds of firewall monitoring to let you know if there is a weird nonconformist packet seen by the firewall? We need reports. We need graphs. We need you to be paged for every individual packet. Because that TCP SYN SSH packet from China (while we're blocking APNIC space anyway, in fact only permitting ssh port IP space from our fellow admins home ISP ranges, and disabled typed in ssh logins going solely pub/priv key auth only) scares me and should scare you and we should all be scared and aware together so we can all watch TV while we're scared and buy lots of stuff from the commercial ads. WTF?

Eventually you gotta ask, so what are you going to do about it? Whats the end result you're looking for? Fly out to China and beat the guy whom owns the zombied windows PC? Open a ticket with the ISP in China? Call the CIA? Shine the batman emergency light on the clouds? Pray?

The next (last) step in the fad is to ignore it. Who cares. I got a ssh syn packet this morning from Korea. So what?

Privacy hand wringing is the same type of fad. So general mills has tracked your changing tastes in breakfast cereal since birth by careful analysis of facebook posts correlated with grocery store loyalty cards. Eventually, after being asked one time, a hundred times, a million times, "What are you gonna do about it?" you'll realize its simply irrelevant, and move on to something new to be scared of.

Maybe a terrorist behind every tree stump so we gotta give up all our freedoms because they hate our freedoms (oh wait been there done that). From what I read, in the UK the media has them in an absolute frenzy about neighborhood child molesters, maybe we can terrify americans the same way. Or we'll get terrified of space aliens. Or the flu, again. Who knows. Who cares.

Use common sense (1)

PuddleBoy (544111) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429344)

There will be instances where it makes sense to be open and honest in your online dealings (close friends, your bank account, your work accounts). Trying to cover up your real identity in those instances could have negative consequences. (explaining to your bank that you really are the Rip Torn on the account...)

But in instances where you are dealing with strangers, and you may never deal with them again, obfuscate as much as possible.

I (like many here) run my own mail server. I must have 250 accounts on it right now, as I make up a new account for each online entity. (allows you to delete that account if you start getting spam, etc.) Having that many accounts also dilutes the meta data about you in large databases.

If you don't have one already, get a P.O. Box. If you sign up to have some piece of lit delivered, have it sent to the P.O. Box and use an alias for a name. I get lots of mail addressed to many different names - the Post Office gets used to it. Again, it dilutes the info about you in databases.

Think about how you are going to interact with each new online entity (entity meaning store, blog, media, etc.) before you type your first word. There are few places online that really need to know about you - they may want to know about you, but they don't need to.

I think it goes without saying to watch your cookies and javascript at new sites. (I am always amazed how a single site can have 15 javascripts from other sites. Gives me the creeps.)

I'm not saying you can escape entirely, but, like an earlier poster said, it's not about whether they know, but how they use that info. And if the info is less accurate and more diffuse, it is less valuable and slightly less likely to be used in a way you don't like.

.....Because it's none of your fucking business! (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429364)

Gosh, where to begin. I guess I use whatever privacy measures I can for one simple reason...IT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS WHERE I GO, WHAT I DO, WHICH PAGES I SCAN, WHAT PRODUCTS I BUY, WHO I DATE, HOW MANY KIDS I HAVE, WHERE I LIVE, OR WHAT I THINK!!! If I chose to divulge such information, it is because I CHOOSE TO, not because I think you have a right to make money off of it. My biggest complaint with the internet is that people have chosen to mis-use it. I loved back in the day how I could go to a chat-room and it was not plagued by fucking chat-bots. I loved being able to type "wherez da warez", and someone would tell me where I could get a solid copy of Photoshop, or Lightwave...without fear of some schmuck at the NSA, DOJ, RIAA or MPAA, using the conversation to justify putting me in a cage. Not to say that I made a habit of doing such things, but the fact remains that the freedom to do them without fear of prosecution existed.

I always envisioned that the web would be used to liberate humans from the stupid 9 to 5 get up get in the car, take the bus, or train, sit at a desk getting fatter, surviving or merely enduring office-related bullshit/politics for 8 to 12 hours, and drag yourself home reality. But NOOOOOOO, instead the internet has become like a farm, where you are milked for personal data, and your every transaction is being monetized at no benefit to you. Deep down, I think this is the result of employers not utilizing the full potential of the web. That it really represented the end of locality, and has instead been perverted to become the end of privacy, and dignity.

-Oz

Don't have privacy, don't need it (2)

coldsalmon (946941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429438)

I know I don't have privacy, and I keep that in mind when going about my business. Really I don't need privacy for the vast majority of what I do -- I'm a very boring person. I don't care if Amazon or Google or the FBI knows that I've bought Chopin's Complete Waltzes, Preludes and Nocturnes. If I ever needed privacy, I could acquire it simply by not using any connected gadgets. I am 28 years old (and I don't care if you know that) so I am a bit older than the "next generation" that the original post talks about, but my friends and I all assume that anything we put online is public information. I don't post embarrassing pictures of myself on Facebook, and I don't post anything that I wouldn't want my clients to read (including this).

There are issues with employers being effectively able to censor their employees' speech, but this is mostly due to the increased access to publication (e.g. via Facebook and blogging), and is not really a privacy issue in my opinion. Employers still can't legally break into my Google account and read the chatlogs in which I complain about my company. The fact that they can make access to private communications a condition of employment IS a privacy issue, and that should be dealt with via legislation.

Answer: It doesn't matter until it matters. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429452)

The #1 reason people should be concerned with privacy is controlling how much power we give to those who could oppress us. By giving up privacy we create the potential for great abuse. If someone were to come into political power with the desire and the data to specifically determine who is engaging in "undesirable" behavior, then they could do much more harm than someone who would have to make his case to the population at large. I don't mean to be hyperbolic, but imagine if someone like Hitler could have had 10 years of online tracking information from which to build his perfect society. As free citizens, we should recognize that corruption is a fact of life and actively seek to limit the scope of political power and the potential for abuse.

As I speak, our (US) government is seeking to collect more and more information about us without our knowledge. Can any of us predict what it will be used for?

You should care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429492)

> And if the feds can track my every movement — who cares?
Invoking Godwin's Law by association, you obviously haven't lived in a country with a powerful secret police yet. Freedom dies by the inch.

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