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What's your Net worth: How to reclaim your personal data (New Scientist article)

What's your Net worth: How to reclaim your personal data (New Scientist article)

The only way to keep information perfectly private is to stop generating it, which is next to impossible. Peter Eckersley, a director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group based in San Francisco, says you would essentially have to live like a criminal. Online, this would mean using ad-blocking programs, routing your internet traffic through proxies or anonymisation software and using pseudonyms whenever you sign up for a new online service. Offline, you would have to pay cash or use prepaid credit cards, and only use prepaid cellphones - the untraceable "burners" most often associated with drug dealers who throw them away after the minutes are up. "Basically the industry has refused to provide a way for people to opt-out of being tracked in any sensible way," he says.

Governments are attempting to protect consumer rights online. Earlier this year the Obama administration unveiled a privacy rights bill. The European Union has begun to enforce a ban on cookies, and Google has promised to put a Do Not Track option into its Chrome browser. However, Eckersley says many of these measures are toothless.

Full Insightful article - free, but you need to subscribe:

(I've stripped off the information in the URL that identifies that this link came from me, so I'd like confirmation that others can read it once they have a New Scientist account.)

The latest versions of most browsers now include a 'Do Not Track' option, but there is no obligation for websites to honour this - so it is next to useless. The article mentions some privacy protector companies that are springing up to enable you to regain your privacy.


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It's not that we necessarily have secrets to hide but just want decency where our private lives are concerned.

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Privacy becomes exponentially complex when considering mobile devices... especially in the new iOS7.

What you need to be aware of... for the privacy paranoid...


Exactly right Jangreen; once our privacy has been lost on-line, it is nigh impossible to get it back.


As you say, the already disgusting situation with computers has been exponentially worsened on mobile devices. Windows machines that come with the operating system pre-installed come with all these extra applications that slow down your PC/Laptop and reduce your security. Many in IT prefer to install the Windows operating system from the Microsoft installation disk (not the one supplied with the computer/laptop (if that is even supplied) or from the recovery partition) to ensure this 'crapware' is not present.

Much useful software provided from 'reputable' download sites is repackaged to include toolbars and other software that invades your privacy. You have to very carefully work through the installation process to make sure you omit these - IF you are even given a choice. Adobe Reader supplied direct from Adobe is a case in point. It installs the Yahoo toolbar by default and offers you the option of allowing Reader to silently update in future. That's good from a security perspective, but you lose control of what is being added to your computer.

Android has a shocking malware reputation and it starts with what's installed when you get your phone:

Android Installed Apps security questionable...

Here's a paper from the North Carolina State University that found between 5 and 13% of apps from 6 popular third party apps market places had been repackaged:

From the paper: "Further manual investigation indicates that these repackaged apps are mainly used to replace existing in-app advertisements or embed new ones to “steal” or re-route ad revenues. We also identify a few cases with planted backdoors or malicious payloads among repackaged apps."

BitDefender found that "1.2% of apps on Google Play are repackaged to deliver ads, collect info"

Bottom line, any free software will usually be paid by advertising which generally means you are paying with your privacy. Companies want to target you with advertising that will catch your attention and lead to sales, and that means tracking your interests and where you are - particularly when the advertising is going to your mobile phone.



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