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Ask Slashdot: Privacy Paranoia 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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Ask Slashdot: Privacy Paranoia

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  • Use aliases. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:56AM (#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.


  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @09:57AM (#35428852) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Resistance is futile (Score:5, Interesting)

    by manicbutt ( 162342 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:00AM (#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.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:00AM (#35428892) Homepage

    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.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:03AM (#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:Use aliases. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:11AM (#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.


    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.

  • by GuyFawkes ( 729054 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:21AM (#35429112) Homepage Journal

    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:Use aliases. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:26AM (#35429162) Journal

    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 [] 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?

  • by EraserMouseMan ( 847479 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @10:30AM (#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:Use aliases. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @11:55AM (#35430698) Journal

    While no one may care, I still protect some basics.
    I have a little perl script that does nothing but grab a random number of random words from my dictionary and performs google searches on those words, then gets a random number of hits from the search query.
    It doesn't do anything with the results, just discards them to dev/nul but my real searches are likely lost in all that noise.
    I use my real name on facebook, specifically so people can find me, but I post almost nothing.
    On forums like this I use an alias. I've three distinct on-line persona and I keep them relatively separate

    That said, the odds that anyone actually cares about what I do is remote, but I do not rely on that as my only defense of who I am.

  • Re:Use aliases. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by anyGould ( 1295481 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:13PM (#35431010)

    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.

    I'd extend that - so long as you never intend on having a mistress, you're probably OK. Because they'll be able to tell from your changing patterns that something is up.

    That's the freaky part about things like Facebook's new "tracking like buttons" and the "let us manage your forums for you" features - my newspaper turned on the "you must log in to Facebook to write us" feature, and frankly, it feels a little expensive to have to hand over access to your complete profile in order to give them content to publish...

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"