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Posting Secrets: The Paradox of Online Privacy


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On one hand, technology encourages us to be more open and vulnerable; on the other hand, technology is actually eroding privacy. Presented at Montana OffLine 2010.

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
  • Tony, I saw your presentation at Montana Offline and was very impressed. There is something poignant about the whole subject. Now I'm a PostSecret fan and will share it with friends. Also, the local library has your books so I'll soon be a fan. Sorry about not buying them. I am a librarian after all.

    Charlotte from Helena
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Posting Secrets: The Paradox of Online Privacy

  1. POSTING SECRETS <ul><li>The Paradox of Online Anonymity and Privacy </li></ul>TL Hines | MLA Offline Conference | February 20, 2010
  2. POSTING SECRETS <ul><li>The Paradox of Online Anonymity and Privacy </li></ul>TL Hines | MLA Offline Conference | February 20, 2010
  3. POSTING SECRETS <ul><li>The Paradox of Online Anonymity and Privacy </li></ul>TL Hines | MLA Offline Conference | February 20, 2010
  4. POSTING SECRETS <ul><li>The Paradox of Online Anonymity and Privacy </li></ul>TL Hines | MLA Offline Conference | February 20, 2010
  5. TODAY’S SECRET AGENDA <ul><li>The human need for anonymity </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymity meets technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The good, the bad, the ugly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The paradox of online privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul>
  6. WHO IS THIS GUY? <ul><li>I’m TL Hines. I write weird stuff. </li></ul><ul><li>My post secret: I’m also an online addict. </li></ul><ul><li>Most recent book features an online spammer who steals identities. </li></ul>
  10. SECRECY, ANONYMITY, HUMANITY <ul><li>An innate desire for secrecy...and yet, an innate desire to see and share. </li></ul><ul><li>Voyeuristic & vicarious = gossip, the very nature of celebrity in our culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Confessional and cleansing = relief, the basis of 12-step programs and modern therapy. </li></ul>
  11. THE ONLINE SECRET SOCIETY <ul><li>Sites dedicated to anonymity: PostSecret, 4Chan, Something Awful, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis, blogs, forums, comments, email addresses </li></ul><ul><li>Pseudonyms: Role Players, Posers, NotIdentities </li></ul>
  12. AND WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH THAT? <ul><li>Nothing. Once again, it fulfills human needs to confess, and to live vicariously. </li></ul><ul><li>Lets people ask and learn without shame or embarrassment. </li></ul><ul><li>Healthy exercise of imagination = act out fantasies, create art/satire, connect with others. </li></ul>
  13. COME TO THE DARK SIDE, LUKE. <ul><li>Online anonymity = the death of civility? </li></ul><ul><li>The “troll” effect; the Godwin Law. </li></ul><ul><li>Defamation, slander and libel = easier than ever. </li></ul><ul><li>The fine line between fascination and fixation. </li></ul>
  14. GOING OFF THE DEEP END. <ul><li>Phishing, malware, adware, identity theft. </li></ul><ul><li>Online harassment, predators, and stalking. </li></ul><ul><li>Immune in Montana? Hello, DA Davidson = info from 226,000 customers compromised. </li></ul>
  15. THE PRIVACY PARADOX. <ul><li>On the one hand, the anonymity of the Internet makes us feel more secure, encourages us to be more “vulnerable.” </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand, technology is eroding—not enhancing—our privacy. </li></ul>
  16. SEARCH ON WITH GOOGLE <ul><li>A clever Super Bowl ad that shows how pervasive Google has become. </li></ul>
  17. DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN? <ul><li>Old school techniques = Anonymous for 20+ years. Technology = Identified in 24 hours. </li></ul>
  18. BUT... <ul><li>How many secret documents are floating around with your name attached? </li></ul>
  19. UNMASKED BY GOOGLE <ul><li>“ Secret” blogger revealed after a defamation lawsuit. </li></ul>
  20. BUT... <ul><li>Google and ISPs would just as willingly hand over records of your web activity. </li></ul>
  21. MYFAKESPACE: HARASSMENT <ul><li>13-year-old killed herself due to harassment from Lori Drew on a fake account. </li></ul>
  22. BUT... <ul><li>This case set a precedent, making it illegal to have a “fake” identity. </li></ul>
  23. EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE... <ul><li>Simple Google search = Your address and phone. More detail: ID reports ($15). </li></ul><ul><li>Current photos and information: you and your family/associates. </li></ul><ul><li>Satellite and street views of your home. </li></ul><ul><li>Geotagged mobile photos: I can see inside your home. </li></ul>
  24. OH, BUT I’M TOO CAREFUL FOR THAT. <ul><li>Your IP address gets logged, making your visits trackable. </li></ul><ul><li>Downloads remain “visible” even after you delete. </li></ul><ul><li>Cookies = History of your searches and activity. </li></ul><ul><li>You give up information about yourself to Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, etc. </li></ul>
  25. IT GETS SCARIER. <ul><li>Locational privacy is disappearing. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not just the “Interwebs” now: mobile phones, public wi-fi, electronic swipe cards, electronic traffic signals, loyalty cards and credit cards can all give away your location. </li></ul>
  26. IT GETS SCARIER. <ul><li>Your insurance company could see how often you go to the health club. Or the doctor. Or therapy. </li></ul><ul><li>Your employer could see where you go at lunch. Did you have an interview at a competitor’s office? </li></ul><ul><li>Your ex could find out where you’re going on dates—and when you get home. </li></ul>
  27. IS 2010 THE NEW 1984? <ul><li>Yes. No. Maybe. </li></ul>
  28. PRIVACY: SWIRLING THE DRAIN? <ul><li>Low threshold for disclosure: it’s not difficult to subpoena records. (And let’s not even talk about hackers.) </li></ul><ul><li>Terms of Service are getting more invasive. </li></ul><ul><li>Automation of social media services such as Google Buzz: connections you might not realize. </li></ul>
  29. STAY SAFE OUT THERE. <ul><li>Browser setup: Fake ‘em out, track those cookies. </li></ul><ul><li>Set up an email account for signups and transactions. Keep your “real” email safe. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at privacy policies and Terms of Service. </li></ul><ul><li>Google yourself. Ask to have listings removed. </li></ul>
  30. STAY SAFE OUT THERE. <ul><li>Don’t use search engine email services (gmail or Yahoo). </li></ul><ul><li>Create a robots.txt file to exclude portions of your site from search engines. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a laptop. </li></ul><ul><li>Use a public computer. </li></ul>
  31. QUESTIONS? <ul><li>Thank you. Thank you very much. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>