The Basics of Privacy
By Rick Falkvinge
What is Privacy? >>
Privacy is a basic human emotion like love, aspiration, empathy, and understanding. It’s what we feel when we lock the restroom door, it’s what we feel when we lay back on the couch with a good book, it’s what we feel when we close our eyes on the warm beach and just have a little moment completely to ourselves.
Privacy is not just completely natural: it’s a good emotion. The feeling of privacy causes us to relax, causes us to not worry for a little while. Like most of our fundamental emotions, privacy is so important to our well-being that it has been recognized as a right in our legal frameworks along with feelings like love, safety, and the pursuit of happiness.
Therefore, our laws – indeed our constitutions around the world – say practically in unison that under normal circumstances, we have an inviolable right to feel, experience, and have actual privacy. However, that’s in theory – in practice, today’s authorities don’t honor that right. Read more >>
What traces do you leave behind? >>
Whenever you’re online, you’re leaving small markers of identity, several different kinds and on several different levels. This is necessary for everyday communication on the Internet – for example, if you ask a web server for a web page, that web server will need a way to send the web page you asked for back to you, so it needs some sort of address to send it to. However, people who have made it a specialty to violate other people’s privacy are experts in coupling – that’s a key word here – connecting different identity points and data points with each other, and so, may know a whole lot about you the very first time you visit a web page.
This coupling can be compared to an anonymous travel card for public transit. Most cities with public transportation will allow you to purchase cards or tokens with pre-filled travel credit – tokens that can be topped up later. But the first time you do so with a personal credit card, your travel token is not anonymous any more. When doing so, you create a log of who is using this travel token – you’re allowing for a coupling between your previously-anonymous travel token and your personal credit card – and you’re not only traceable with all future travels on that particular token, but also on any travels you’ve done in the past, before you made the mistake of using a personal credit card to top up.
This mindset is key: What data is available for an adversary to connect dots about me? Read more >>
Five ready-to-use tools to improve your privacy >>
While one could preach going off the grid altogether to leave no traces at all, that’s barely compatible with a modern lifestyle. You could argue that you should stop using anything traceable – stop using credit cards, stop using mobile phones – but it’s not going to be very helpful, and the burden will quickly be overpowering for all but the most devout. Instead, here are five tools you can use in your daily life as it looks today that will quickly and significantly raise your level of privacy. Read more
January 28, 2016 at 12:44PM
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