Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

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Half a century ago people had to be reassured their social security card was not being used for identification. Now there are federally standardized and globally synchronized ID cards, government-sponsored online ID projects, DNA databases, and even secret databases of your newborn baby’s genetic information and nobody bats an eyelid. How did we get here, and how can we break this conditioning?

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Sending an email message is like sending a postcard, says scientist Andy Yen in this thought-provoking talk: Anyone can read it. Yet encryption, the technology that protects the privacy of email communication, does exist. It’s just that until now it has been difficult to install and a hassle to use. Showing a demo of an email program he designed with colleagues at CERN, Yen argues that encryption can be made simple to the point of becoming the default option, providing true email privacy to all.

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a glut of companies are lurking in the shadows of the Internet, gathering your data to sell it to anyone who’s willing to pay the price. These so-called “data brokers” can easily follow your digital trail by using your browser cookies and other ingenious tracking methods.

And it’s not just general statistics, demographics, or overall trends that they’re selling. Many data brokers sell dossiers on individuals, complete profiles that include your name and personal information, without your knowledge or consent. These dossiers can include sensitive information such as medical history, political and religious affiliations, and sexual orientation.

There are no regulations for companies such as these. If you want to keep your personal data private and not let anonymous companies bid over it, you have to take matters into your own hands to block their efforts.

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President Obama just unveiled a number of proposals to crack down on hackers. It’s great that the government is working on this but we need to do a better job of protecting ourselves. So we sent a camera out onto Hollywood Boulevard to help people by asking them to tell us their password.

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