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While I agree with Vint Cert, Evangelist at Google, when he said in a recent article ( ) that Internet Privacy needs an Institutional Solution (as in: Tell Congress You WON'T Tolerate Unconstitutional Surveillance, All you need is your zip code and this phone number: 1-STOP-323-NSA), he said in part, worth quoting at length:

“It has to be institutional; it also has to do with social conventions that we adopt. The reason there isn’t a technological solution is that the ability to infer information from partial information is extremely powerful — you can take information which appears to be anonymous and (extrapolate identity). It has to be a set of conventions that we adopt, either a legal framework or social conventions.

“Technology is racing ahead so quickly and we are so eager to embrace it with our mobiles and everything else that we don’t fully appreciate the side effects. When we put photos on the web and other people tag them, we create (problems) for people who just happen to be in the image. They get caught… we learned this with Street View.

“There are a lot of things that we do everyday that we think are innocent… but there are cascades of things that happen. I don’t think we’ve figured out what the right intuitive set of social conventions should be in order to protect privacy. We’re going to have to learn by making mistakes.

“This can’t be just a national issue because the internet is everywhere. The consequence of that is it causes us to confront head-on this problem of global issues, of frameworks, legal frameworks, social conventions and the like.”



Cookies are little "crumbs" that sites put on your computer.  Using these "crumbs" data points from the sites you visit are collected. Over time, this data is condensed to form a “digital profile.” Since there are no laws preventing companies from seeing these profiles, they are often times sold and then employed to gauge public opinion about products. Cookies are required by many sites for the site to work correctly. So totally Blocking them is not a practical solution, but there are some things you CAN DO about "tracking cookies".


Google collects A LOT of data about your internet travels, and uses that to target ads at you, I am in NO WAY SUGGESTING that Google is an example of good Internet Privacy stewardship, as a matter of Fact I PERSONALLY tell all my friends NOT to use, and to use or for their internet searches.  (DISCLAIMER I used to work at and So I am in no way suggestion you jump on the Google band wagon, BUT if you use Google Chrome there are some great tools available, such as DoNotTrackMe that will help prevent tracking cookies.  If you do use Chrome, (I am not suggesting you do, because GOOGLE WILL THEN TRACK YOU!) DO install DoNotTrackMe after Deleting your cookies.

If you use FIREFOX, (I HIGHLY suggest you use this browser, it is produced by a highly reputable organization, who's motto is: We are Mozilla, Doing good is part of our code and their code is open source! COCOON! ( http:&xC5; ) Cocoon is an all-in-one plugin that makes everything you do online secure, virus-free and private. Without Cocoon websites and hackers have access to your computer to leave cookies or infect it with viruses and malware. Cocoon helps block this!  Cocoon is HIGHLY rated on, and is also available from there, ( )


This is probably one of the easiest and most overlooked things to do.  Keep your personnel email for private emails to and from friends and people you know.  Create a gmail or Hotmail account that you give out publicly as a SPAM address, and get in the habit when publishing a web page that requires an email address, emailing an anonymous party, joining a chat room, or commenting on a blog, of using this SPAM  email address. Using an email address created for the sole purpose of online activity like the aforementioned will prevent your personal email account from being targeted by spammers.


This may be OBVIOUS to most, but restrict private data and net usage to your home computer, not a Public or Company PC. Many employers monitor what their employees do on the internet, which may compromise important passwords. Additionally, be weary of using important passwords and information, like your social security and credit card numbers, when using public computers.  


It has been proven that it only takes 6 data points to uniquely identify you in the world.  Your Birthday is one of data point. Unfortunately, identity thieves are notorious for using birth dates as the foundation of their craft. In order to make it more difficult for thieves to do this, try to enter just the month or try leaving off the year.  Your friends won't mind, believe me!


For GPS Navigation during traveling, Geo-location is great, and GPS/Geo-location services have become a common feature on smart phones, mobile apps, and social networking sites. The frequent tagging of an individual’s location is a perceivable hazard, and is not necessary, you are just telling thieves when you are not home.  It is such a hazard and a liability for companies that provide public location services that Google is doing away with Latitude. If you are not purposely using your geo-locator, it may be time to disable it. I would also suggest looking at your privacy settings on things like 4square and Facebook and make sure your "Check-ins" are limited to FRIENDS ONLY!


Be aware that privacy settings are constantly changing. It is vital to always update your settings and protect the information you share online. However, remember that privacy does not truly exist on the internet, so do not post sensitive or important information online.

I use Facebook, my one social media outlet, and there is a great tool to assist you in making Facebook a lot more secure, it is AVG's Privacy Fix.  If you use Facebook, as I do, (Yes, it is EVIL, but we all have our vices!), then download and run this tool, it will help you review your privacy settings and tell you the pros and cons of different settings.


I touched on this earlier, but it is SO important that it deserves it own topic! Be careful what browsers and search engines you use. Internet Explorer is the most popular web browser; hence it has the most data theft. Therefore, it may be better to use an open source browser, like Mozilla Firefox, to decrease your vulnerability of being the victim of viruses and data theft. Additionally, although Google is a reliable and efficient search engine, Google builds data profiles on their users, based on Gmail accounts and web searches, and sells them to companies. Making money off your likes, websites you visit and targeting you  for marketing and spam.  There are ANONYMOUS ways to use Google and other Sites, these site fall into a category called META-Searches.  They sort of proxy the search for you, and have the benefit of searching more than just Google, hide your information from the search engine, since their server does the search for you and  returns the results to your Web Browser.  As I said earlier I use DuckDuckGo APP on my smart phone, (I love the articles it provides for reading on the Bus!) and as my default search in my Web Browsers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

    by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:31:39 AM PDT

  •  You are terribly wrong about one thing. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, stevemb, kyril, duhban
    Cookies are by all definitions evil
    No, they are not.  They are a tool for allowing websites to work in a manner which users find valuable.  And, like any tool, they can be misused.  Hammers have been used to commit murders--does that make hammers, by all definitions, evil?

    I do note that you do not suggest turning cookies off entirely, as that would render many sites unusable, but that having more control over cookies through third-party plugins is a good idea.

    All in all, what you say here is important.  But, let's not use breathless phrases which may play well, but which serve to remove a valuable tool from the Internet user's arsenal.

    "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." - Thomas Jefferson

    by rfall on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:54:46 AM PDT

    •  I agree with you ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, wilderness voice, CroneWit

      Sort-of, Electric Chairs are a tool, but their uses are prominently evil, in my humble opinion.  The DESIGNED use of cookies was to store use settings LOCALLY, but their implementation now goes fare beyond storing Website preferences locally.  BUT turning them off is not Practical, and WORSE YET, there is another technology used for tracking, called BEACONs, or little one pixel images that are downloaded fro the site, and used for tracking.  I know of know way to do anything about BEACONs, so cookies are the lesser of two evils.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:23:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Disconnect & PrivacyFix (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terabytes, Joy of Fishes

    Hi l3m0n!  Nice to see you again.

    For Chrome users, I suggest Disconnect rather than DoNotTrack or Ghostery.  A few months ago, I tested all three to reduce commercial, ad-related tracking.  Disconnect consistently captured and blocked a much higher number of these trackers -- at a ration of about 3-5 for DNT/G vs 15-20 blocked by Disconnect.  (Right now, my Disconnect icons shows 13 trackers blocked on this page; compare that with your blocker and see what you think.)

    I have also installed PrivacyFix.  This extension does so many things that I won't even try to describe it.  Here's the link to its info at the Chrome App store:

    I also like that the PrivacyFix people have a way that you can help them populate their database of sites they test for security/privacy problems.  You can choose to do this if you want -- I'd love to but they don't have a Linux format yet.

    On a related issue, here's a link to an article I read this morning on which cloud services best protect your data's privacy --

    •  My blocker says 10 trackers blocked (4+ / 0-)

      So that little test does say that Disconnect is handling a few more.  I prefer not to use Chrome though because though you are able to block OTHER trackers, you CAN NOT block Google's own tracking ...

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:27:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My Disconnect blocks the google-trackers (0+ / 0-)

        although it lets google content through.

        I'm not married to Chrome.  I started using it a few months back and liked its quickness.  I'm considering moving back to FireFox.

        I was just sharing what works for me, at this point.  I started setting up tracker-stoppers based on what I had read about commercial, ad-related tracking.  (Frankly, I don't think there's much an ordinary user can do to prevent/avoid the NSA harvesting.)

        •  Actually there is ... it is called VPN (0+ / 0-)

          I use a VPN out of the Netherlands, a VPN allows all your internet traffic to be sent from YOUR windows/Ubuntu client to send all of your data to a "Proxy Server" located in another country, (like the Netherlands) which have MUCH more favorable Privacy Laws.  Your Internet traffic then originate FROM that offshore based server, and the results are then routed back to you via a secure and encrypted Tcp/Ip stream, packet by packet.

           Of course I have traveled extensively around the world, and I have made friend in countries that are not popular with the US.  I use my Netherlands based email for most of my personal email from past life friends, including Army friends.  Being an Activist myself, many of my friends are ALSO activists, and to maintain there and my privacy I have been using International services since I was stationed in Belgium in the Army, and didn't want to give civilian's my military email address.  When I need want to check my email I dual boot into Ubuntu, and then VPN with a very secure connection to the Netherlander servers, of course these days my correspondence focuses on exchanging cool BREAD RECIPES, for the most part, so while I know the NSA is collecting and spending many Computer Cycles decrypting packet by packet, just to discover a really great recipe for World Bread or Australian Spelt Bread, no one I know has used the Internet for anything important FOR YEARS, at least since 2005 when I retired from Google in protest.  Now days were do it the old fashioned way, READ: AIRMAIL! We send flyers about protests and letters via the quite secure SNAIL MAIL, and I have found I LOVE putting pen to real paper, and there is something NICE about going out to the post office and getting the latest in Gossip, Events, and Protests, and Boycotts in the Mailbox.

          As an ADAPSO (Automated Data Processing Security Officer), I was once asked by a very influential Commander in the Army if it was possible to secure a computer, I said yes, put it 50 feet underground, and connect it to nothing! Once it is connected there is no possible way to make it secure. I still stand by this statement.  

          Believe it or not in June I worked on a big protest, and we sent all the mockups, documents and correspondence via thumb drive and Morning Delivery Nextday air.  Not that this was any sort of great protest of the Government, we just did not want word to get out during the planning, and wanted to ensure person to person delivery.

          Windows has many hooks for the NSA/Government, that is why I dual boot into Ubuntu, and I still say the only secure computer is one that is connected to NOTHING!

          - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

          by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 05:40:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for doing this diary. Question: My niece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    set up a Facebook account for me.  I don't use it and want to get rid of it.

    When I do, is it gotten rid of?

    •  NOPE! All of the data is owned by facebook ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiec, blueoasis

      You can "delete" it, but THAT DOES NOTHING REALLY, all the data is still there and searchable, Facebook's new tool Facebook Graph really shows this.  There is no good way to delete information ONCE IT IS POSTED TO THE INTERNET, there are crumbs of it indexed all over,for instance Google indexes Facebook, as Does Bing and other search sites, once the information is out there and indexed it exists in this "Meta-Cloud" and can be found there.

      So you can't delete you account because Facebook owns the data once you post it, and you can delete the data-crumbs that posting that data creates.  Even with all my privacy concerns that is one reason I still use Facebook, can't really get rid of it, so why not just live with this one EVIL, Luckily it is the ONLY social media outlet I ever joined.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:33:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another Important Point For Passwords (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert

    Don't use the same password in multiple places -- that exposes all of them if somebody hacks into any one of them.

    Ideally, use randomly generated strong passwords and a password manager (I use KeePass; there are several other options out there) so that you only need to remember one.

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:26:24 AM PDT

    •  Good Point, but Password Managers ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, stevemb, Mr Robert

      My best friend Anne uses a password/encrypted Word Document to store her passwords, we are both getting old and remembering passwords is getting difficult, she asked me about password managers and I looked into them for her.  I was unable to find a Open Source Password Manager like your KeePass, and the one's form Companies I respect, like AVG's Idenity Safe did not meet her needs.  I personnel am very picky about the software I use, and the companies I trust, let's face it I have been burned once with my choice of working for Google back when it DID NO EVIL, and resigned over some of its new policies, like giving in to China an censoring search results, and putting Government Code into the search algorithm, and violating its own Privacy Policy.  I won't just buy into another company without checking it out thoroughly first.  

      I like the fact the KeePass is Open Source, and will have to take a look at it.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 09:44:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just downloaded KeePass (0+ / 0-)

      and will give it a try. I've been guilty of using the same password in multiple places and I realize that's not a good idea so this should help.

      The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

      by Mr Robert on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:31:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for posting KeePass ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, wilderness voice

      I hae looked at it and it is a sweet little bit of programming, very nicely done. I have downloaded it and installed it, and will play with it before suggesting it to my friend Anne, the sucond I suggest it, I suddenly will have to "support it" for her :-(

      Tight code, no bloat, like the plug-in a lot.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:55:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good point about birthdays (0+ / 0-)

    At one time I worked for the largest school district in the state of California and we used a child's date of birth as the basis of a unique identifier. There were approximately 120,000 students in the district and we found that we rarely had more than six students with the same birthday.

    Our unique identifier consisted of the six digit birthday, a two digit serial number, and a check digit as I recall.

    We expected children to know their birth dates when they took standardized tests and a clerk would lookup and record the three digits based on the name and birthday.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:30:15 AM PDT

    •  LOL: WALGREENS uses birthdays, ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      Anywhere in the US you go into the Walgreen's Pharmacy to get a refill and they ask you your birthday, and I have Never SEEN a Walgreen's Pharmacy Tech have to scroll to a second page to locate me.  Birthdays are one of the 6 unique identifiers that can be used and ARE used to identify us, with out the use of names!

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:46:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm pretty sure that Walmart (0+ / 0-)

        does the same thing. They always ask for my name and birthday when I pick up a prescription.

        The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

        by Mr Robert on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 11:57:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right, they put in the Birthday first ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice, Mr Robert

          And that does an SQL query on the database and returns all the customers with that birthday, they then select your name from the query results, birthdays are so unique that I have never seen them have to scroll past the first screen of results to find my name on the list, and as a Programmer very interested in interface design I watch carefully how people interact with their interfaces.

          But to be sure, don't EVER put in your full birthday, or the last four of your Social Security Number. These two identifiers are enough to uniquely identify you.  BESIDES you would be amazed how many systems are designed to use last four of your social as one of the keys to do password resets and such.  People just don't protect their social security number ESPECIALLY the last four, (first 3 say where you were born ... no big deal there) But an identity theif with your birthday and last four has everything he needs to take over your online identity and Bank Accounts for that matter, (Most banks use the last four to identify you, think about it)

          Important thing is to just be careful what you expose publicly, and to whom.

          Recently I have been hearing a lot of people be asked for their Zip codes at stores when they do credit card transactions, stores don't need your Zip Code to process your credit card, but they would like it to add you to their database and track you.  I have ALWAYS refused to give them my zip code, and once the Manager had to be called. I said I would show them ID to use my card card, but not my zip code.  

          There is a lot of money to be made on the sale of demographics, just look at Google's profits if you don't believe me about selling demographics! I just don't give it to them!

          - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

          by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 12:12:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  birthdays (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mr Robert

            occasionally online vendors I need to use require my birthday to verify a credit card transaction. I hate that but really no choice if one wants to buy from the site.  Otherwise I just make something up if such data is demanded.

            •  Everything that needed to process a (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mr Robert, wilderness voice

              credit card transaction is on the card, its 3 numbers, the charge card number, the exp date, and the 3 digit security code, that's all that is needed to process a transaction, anything else is data-mining. If they asked me for my birthday to complete the transaction, I would vote with my feet and shop elsewhere, has just about ANYTHING in the world for sale and they don't need this, besides I have designed a lot of online systems using Visa and Mastercard API's and Date of Birth is not a verifiable field, though Zip Code is, I.e. I can validate a credit card by sending the number and exp. date and Zip code to Mastercard and querying if it is a match, often used to validate ages now on Websites.

              - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

              by l3m0n on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 12:44:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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