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Opinion about the erosion of our privacy

Update in 2019

There are limited ways to protect privacy, or at least obfuscate information about you,  as we enter the third decade of the 21st Century

The following steps are easy and cheap ways to keep yourself a little more private

1, Use Cash - every purchase with Debit or Credit Cards leaves a digital trail - fingerprints - plastic card info is sold to everyone that pays a price

2. Use Firefox Browser on you PC or on your Smart Phone

3.  Lie - give fake information - Give your real phone number only when it is important that someone contact you.

4. Lie - give false  information - Give your real email when it is important that you are contacted

5. Refuse to give information about yourself, or lie about it, just because you are asked for it

6.  EVERYTHING YOU PUT ON THE INTERNET is forever to EVERYONE  Don't put it there if you don't want it known

Privacy is almost totally gone.  Retailers such as Best Buy demand that they RECORD your driver's license, social security number, or passport before they will give you ANY service whatsoever.  Refunds, warranty service, price match.  If you do not have a government ID, you will get no service.

A basic tenant as you live your life is to remember that Government and Corporations have no morals and only ethics written on their paper. Keep it in mind when doing business and giving out information about yourself.


This is being offered to make you more aware. I hope you come to share my concerns and read all of this article.


Your computer is giving information about you away and you are giving away the rest of your privacy as you go about your day to day use on the Internet.   

Information is power in this electronic age. Why give information away when it can benefit you or when you can use it to barter for some benefit.

Don't we have privacy?

Your Privacy is not legally protected. Civil liberties, freedom and the right to be left alone are being taken away by loss of privacy and your inability to protect it. 

I decided to do this page when the Government subpoenaed Monica Lewinsky's Barnes and Noble Book store purchase records during the Kenneth Star investigation. She bought using a credit card and information about the books she purchased was stored for months

Personal Perspective

I view privacy as an essential element of democracy , freedom and liberty. When we have privacy it is easier to be judged by our actions, potential and promise. I do not want to be judged by government and corporate actuarial or demographic information tables gleaned from my day to day using of the Internet, watching of TV, buying of appliances, books and music, travel or car rentals or whatever.

It seems to me that there is a societal paranoia being ingrained into our culture. I am needing a picture ID to do everything: rent movies, fly, enter certain buildings in NY, go to movies, etc. As this activity is being monitored and collected it is being sold to the highest bidder and my privacy becomes non existent

Companies and government may soon insist on information about you before you can buy or use any services that you are paying for

New York State will soon be storing DNA information. DNA not only gives information about me, it identifies my entire family and medical characteristics about us all.

The Risks

Many people wonder why they need to be concerned about privacy. Typically "I have nothing to hide" is the attitude. History tell us that you should keep private what others don't need to know. Remember the McCarthy

Era and the blacklisting.

Remember the internments of American citizens during WW II? Nixon and Clinton administrations using the government information for political dirty tricks. Imagine what Hitler could have done with more information? 
You have not control of any information about you once you give it out.
No computer system is "private". Even the Pentagon cannot keep hackers out.  

Identities can be stolen.

You Email mailbox will be jammed with junk.
The Power of Numbers and other information 
Social Security Number - Anyone having your SS number can find out everything, including your bank account numbers, your medical history, everything!

Bank Account Number - Banks will wire funds to anyone that has this number - with or without your permission
Phone numbers and Caller ID - Unless you block your telephone number anyone with caller ID can get your Name, Address, and increasingly, your SS number from data bases that store information about you - it's not only the phone company that uses this number anymore.

800, 888, 877 Telephone Numbers - Toll free numbers - Corporations get information about you with Caller ID whenever you call these toll free numbers. You cannot block toll free number Caller ID. If the corporation has the technology, your name address and phone is theirs

Driver's license numbers

Mail-in and Internet "Sweepstakes" are just another way of collecting your address, phone number, email address, date of birth. If you enter and don't want that telemarketer phone call, forget the phone, email, and DOB
Product "Registrations" used for the same reason as above. You do not need to "register" to use a guarantee - you just need the register receipt and warranty information that came with the merchandise.

Give It Away - from you computer and on the Internet

Your computer, once linked to an Internet, has an DNS number. When you go to an Internet site, programs can sniff out that number

Your Internet Service Provider, ISP (the company your computer calls), has a numeric address too, see above
Most Internet sites send you "cookies" when you visit. The cookies are sometimes good because they store information about your profile - what news you like to see, your passwords, and so on. The rest of the time they spy on what you are looking at, how long you have been there, where you've been before and where you go next.

Your computer sends information about you and your activity based on programs from the sites you visit (programs using "Java" or "ActiveX"). These programs can sniff out your email address, where you are, where you have been browsing and, if intended to be malicious, just about any info on your computer
All computer processors have a serial number that anyone on the net can get. Microsoft, other software vendors

and internet sites use this number to "authorize" your software, registration and other information. Once you register your PC with it's manufacturer you are that computer for anyone to see. This is a new information "giveaway"

Other Electronic Fingerprints

Some states are selling information about you, your Driver's License address, picture and other information to the highest bidder. (Oregon even posted this information, for a while, free for all to use on the Internet, it has since been removed.)

Supermarket and other store "Discount Cards" - When you sign up for these discounts, you give away information that will be used by everyone that will pay for it.

Product Rebates companies add you to lists when ever you send rebates in. Phone numbers, email addresses are all culled from these forms

Credit card, debit card and ATM card sales leave an electronic fingerprint when ever they are used. Go ask Monica

Retail stores can collect your check information, send it to a data verifying firm, and get into your bank account activity rating every time you use a check. (This all takes under 20 seconds)

Remarks about all this data being collected

No single piece of information about you is dangerous to your privacy but information put together gives a profile of you, a dossier, if you will. Such profiles allow others to make conclusions about you. Will these conclusions be true, really "you" and used for your benefit? 

People and companies can freely trade and buy information about you. Once you give it up it can be given or sold to anyone and you cannot get it back

Ostensibly, collected information is used for marketing but - - -

There are "Data Warehousing" firms that buy it and mix information together from any and all sources to create individual dossier and marketing profiles.

Insurance companies want this warehoused information to make sure you are not at risk in health, property or financial areas. They buy and use this information as they see fit. You can be denied coverage without ever knowing why because your profile says you are a bad risk.

The government naturally wants this information for tax reasons, but they also want it so easy to see that you do not fit antisocial profiles. Have you heard of "Racial Profiling" by the New Jersey Police? Get ready for "character profiling" and DNA profiling by the authorities to identify you as suspect, it's coming soon.

Rhetorical comments

Did you go to department store to get a refund lately? They'll ask you your phone number and then fill out that refund form from information about you given to them by someone else.

Does the telephone company really need your SS number? Do you have a right to stop the phone company or anyone else from selling you SS number to anyone? Everyone?

Do you really want to put your Driver's License and / or SS, preprinted, on your checks?

Is it right to deny your heath insurance because your family's DNA carries the breast cancel gene? Because your family is predisposed to heart disease? Isn't denying you insurance for these reasons the same as being denied insurance for racial reasons?

Does the government really need you SS number when you pay for your EZ Pass tolls (electronic collections of tolls at the toll booth) with a credit card

Think of these simple, hypothetical, very real and absurd possibilities

Are you a bad credit risk because you got money at the casino ATM?

Are you a bad health insurance risk because you've bought beef at the Super Market for 20 years

You are being photographed almost everywhere. Do you want your locality watching you as you go about your daily life. Do you want to pay taxes to have your lives lived on government video tapes. (In Great Britain every street is being monitored with government watching as you move from camera to camera. It's only a matter of time before it happens here)

You and your car may be photographed and ticketed automatically if you have don't stop at a stop sign.
Does anyone (everyone!) really need to know what you are buying, reading or seeing?
Technology designed for military use, for spying on foreign enemies, is being used increasingly to monitor America's own citizens.

Do you want everyone to have unrestricted rights to information about you?

Are these not the things that we fear about the old Soviet Union and under communism?

Keep Your Life to yourself and other ways to fight this nonsensical collection of data about everything that we do

Use cash rather than credit card or bank debit cards

Never give your Social Security Number, driver's license, bank account or credit card numbers to anyone without knowing why they are needed. (Then you decide if they really need it).  

DON'T PRINT YOUR Social Security Number on your checks

Do not give your SS Number over the phone. Companies will demand it but tell them you do not give it out. Offer only the last 4 digits.

Only give the above numbers and other information out if your really need whatever service is being offered. 

The politicians have the power to give you rights to protect your privacy. Since you don't have that right now, let them know that you want the power to say no to the information.

Talk about and discuss these issues with your family and friends

Never register anywhere without thinking about where the information you are giving might be used.
Give alias or inaccurate information or just pass offers by completely when they demand information about you.

If you must register, for prizes, for sweepstakes, especially for information on the Internet, give minimal information. Leave off your credit card numbers, phone number, email address. when you can

Give false information when the information asked for is no one's business.

Internet and computer specific things to do


When you buy your computer and it asks you to enter Name, Company, etc., use "Private" as name and "Private" as company (or some other non informational names) This information will be (almost assuredly) sent automatically via the Internet to any web site or program that knows how to look on your computer.   

When you register computer programs, such Microsoft Office or any others - use "Private" - see above.
Select and use a non-specific email address. Instead of jjones @ aol.com use a more general one like fishermanjohn@aol.com

Ask a more experience friend to help you with the moderate or higher lever of skills as follows.

Moderate to experienced

Stop cookies. Set up your browser to notify you when cookies are sent or buy a software utility to monitor cookies. You will get so many cookies that it will drive you nuts rejecting them so do the following
Install and use an Internet Browser such as FireFox and use it's cookie control feature. These browsers also let you manage pop ups and annoying advertising and other images as you browse from page to page

Clear your history list of sites visited

Clear your Internet cache regularly.

Use products like "Zone Alarm" or "Norton Internet Security". They have ways to protect your while you are on the line. You can build your personal "firewall" to keep out snoops etc.
Permission is granted to copy, print, publish this page without restriction.

Update: November 2004

You new car likely has a "black box", similar in concept to the black box in aircraft. The black box knows your speed and other driving circumstances. It can be used as a record if you have an accident.

Quote from an unidentified news source, November 2004:

"Black boxes,  or "EDRs" (electronic data recorders ( have been fitted into every General Motors car in its 2004 line and is in a number of Ford models about 15 percent of all vehicles on the road today, according to road safety experts "
Starting with new phones in 2004, your location when using a cell phone can be identified within 30 yards