My 1/10/10 Missoulian column
We’re accustomed to security and privacy in the non-online world; we have locks on our doors and cars, and shades on the windows of our houses.
And we’re used to aspects of online security and privacy; we have e-mail passwords and do online banking on secure Web sites, and we know (or should know) that it’s good to be careful about what private information we put out on the Internet.
Many technology industry pundits say that in the age of the Internet, nothing is private. But that doesn’t mean one should give up and not learn and be concerned about online privacy.
I have covered lots of security issues in the past, but haven’t written much about online privacy. So this is an introduction to a series of columns about online privacy that will run for the next few months.
I’ll be covering what online privacy is, how private information is gathered and used, what permissions we give companies regarding our private information and how online users can control their privacy.
The terms “privacy” and “security” often get interchanged, especially online. But they are different concepts. Being secure online is something you learn about and do. Privacy is what may or may not happen with that security. We hear lots about being secure online. Being private online is something to learn, too.
There’s a cartoon that made the Internet rounds last year that illustrates some of the differences between privacy and security. The cartoon shows a house with a fence around it. “Security” is written on the fence and workers are busy pulling fence boards down to see into the yard and see the house. “Privacy” is written on the house and workers are busy pulling boards from the side of the house. We can see through the walls into the house, where a worried couple is looking out.
Privacy isn’t about nailing up another set of boards on a fence or on a house. It’s good to know what habits and what knowledge we need to protect our “homes” and keep our information private online.
Next week: In the age of the Internet, is anything private anymore?
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