Privacy, is it real?
In our daily lives a persons privacy is violated countless times. So many in fact, we tend to catch less and less of them as we become more desensitized. In the making of this article, I decided to document the different ways a persons privacy (in this case mine) was at risk and how.
9:15am: I place a call to a computer company to order for some replacement parts I’m greeted… “Hello Mr.Smith, what can we do for you today?”. I reply with my order.
10:09am: I jump online for a little bit to check on somethings. I check my e-mail, an innocent looking e-mail is waiting for me “Mr.Smith Requested information enclosed”. Inside are advertisements for porn sites. It’s deleted with disgust.
10:30am: I surf over to amazon.com, I’m greeted… Welcome Back Mr.Smith. After a brief check on some prices I head out the door to do some shopping.
11:10am: I stop by a gas station, use my gas card to pay and retrieve my recipt. I noticed on my recipt printed… Thank-You Mr.Smith please come again!
11:30am: I pull into the local SuperMarket, grab what I need and head over to the checkout area. My “club card’ is handed over in an attept to save a buck or two. As my purchases are finished being rung up & I’m handed my receipt, the check out clerks says Mr.Smith, would you like help out to your car? I kindly reply No-Thanks.
12:45am: I’ve returned home and started to unpack groceries, when the phone rings. I answer it… Hello? A person responds in a friendly voice “Hello, is Mr.Smith home?” I reply this is he speaking. I’m then bombarded with newspaper offers that sound too good to be true. Sounds great I reply…. but I’m not interested, I then ask the sales agent to remove my name from their marketing list, the kindly agent agrees.
Now… a person might be wondering what does all this have to do with me? My answer is, alot! If you don’t take the precautions to protect your privacy, who will? Don’t expect the advertiser, the clerk or a website to do that! Your privacy, your information, needs to be in your hands and not one who is only interested in making a extra dollar at someone else’s cost. Some may be thinking, alright, so what if a company has my name? Big deal! They are right! It is a big deal! What a majority of consumers don’t know is that companies do ‘profiling’ on its consumers. Say I go to a website and purchase an item, information is kept about that visit, the name I enter will be used to greet me at my next visit. Some see it as a personal touch etc.. but your privacy is slowly being stepped on. Later on, the banners will be geared toward items that they think wil be of interest to me. This piece of marvel namely ‘cookies’ can be thanked. When you go to a supermarket that uses a store card, a profile is kept on that consumer from what time the person shops to what is purchased. With this.. more products can be geared to the consumer that they might or might not be interested in. Some may see that as a great convience but.. it doesn’t stop there! Another thing the consumer might not know is that companies sell their databases of profiles among each other. So, they can send you advertisements in the mail and call you at your home attempting to sell you something. In some extreme cases some organizations will collect databases and recompile larger ones. Info ranging from your full name, your home address, your phone number, date of birth, etc… are all stored without your knowledge. Which… is not a good thing!
In closing Id like to explain several ways to help aid yourself in keeping your information private.
1: Create an online alias. Setup a specific e-mail account (a free service maybe etc.. ) that you can use when you register for things online.
2: Clean out the cookies your computer has already accepted:
Click Edit, then Preferences, then Advanced. You will have a choice to block all cookies, or warn you when your computer is about to except one.
Click tools, Internet options, click the ‘General’ Tab, then click the button ‘Delete Files’, under the Temporary Internet Files section.
3: Instead of reciving your catalogs etc.. at home rent a P.O. Box from your local Post Office, which run about $60 a year (depending on size of box) and have them sent there!
4: If you recieve a pesty call from someone trying to sell you something, simply tell them No-Thanks and to remove your name from their calling list, which they have to do legally (in the U.S. that is).
If you’re interested in reading a bit more on things mentioned in this article, take a look at these books:
The End of Privacy by Reg Whitaker
Internet Privacy Kit by Marcus Goncalves
Cookies by Simon St. Laurent