Monday, May 18, 2009

Privacy and the Web - Scalia

Students at Fordham Law School taught Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a lesson on privacy on the web. The New York Times reported in a story that Scalia who has been dismissive of privacy on the web cases in the past was the “target” in that the students would attempt to gather as much online material about him as possible. They were able to create a dossier of 15 pages. Some of the material included his home address and telephone number, his wife’s personal email address, and the TV shows and food he prefers.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse reports that the main ways to get information online about you are:

- Marketing
- Official use: Court Records / employer / government (law enforcement and foreign intelligence)
- Illegal activity and scams
- Other common scams

To keep your activity as private as possible, make sure you understand a site’s privacy policy before you give it your information. Read the policy. If you can’t find it, it is better to pass on the site rather than to have your information sold for mass marketing.

Keep your computer secure. Use a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware applications. Use an auto update program and update your computer with security patches as soon as they become available.

Once again, as we have discussed before, no one is looking to give anyone free money over the Internet. Do not open or even look at emails that promise riches.

I remember when I was a child there was a 60 Minutes story how someone could profile a person by their cancelled checks in their bank account. They could tell if they were married, what kind of products they bought and how pretty much they lived. We are much more beyond that now.

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