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Who's Watching Out for Your Privacy?

The digital world is eroding our privacy. Every week, users post 3.5 billion pieces of information on Facebook. Twitter has over 100 million users. Google has over 900,000 servers. The content on social media sites reaches 80% of all internet users.

The data trail we leave behind on the internet is enormous.

“There has never been another time in history where privacy was under the kind of assault it is today,” said Rainey Reitman, activism director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “Consumers have increasingly digital lives and they are developing an unfathomably large data trail every day.”

There is a perfect storm, Reitman says, involving digital lives, low-cost storage that allows companies to save everything, and the revenues that incent those companies to collect as much data as possible.

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Social Networking and E-Mail: Is Privacy Dead?

Facebook has now overtaken Google as the most visited website. How smart is it to share your life on Facebook or other social networking sites? This week, the keynote speaker at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) festival proclaimed privacy is not dead in the era of social networking, it just needs fixing. The speaker, Danah Boyd, works for Microsoft.

I disagree. It's very much dead, not only for social media but for e-mail. The evidence? Take a look at Facebook's subpoena and search warrant guide -- or Google's or AOL's or anyone else's. Or, take a look at the Stored Communications Act (18 USC 2703) and see how easy it is for law enforcement to get your personal information and contacts, and with a search warrant, the content of your communications.

How are you going to find those guides? I'm not going to publish them, but you can find them on Cryptome.org. I will tell you a little about what they will turn over: [More...]

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