The following article appeared in the Opinion pages of the New York Times on March 3, 2014.
LAST year, I spent more than $2,200 and countless hours trying to protect my privacy.
Some of the items I bought — a $230 service that encrypted my data in the Internet cloud; a $35 privacy filter to shield my laptop screen from coffee-shop voyeurs; and a $420 subscription to a portable Internet service to bypass untrusted connections — protect me from criminals and hackers. Other products, like a $5-a-month service that provides me with disposable email addresses and phone numbers, protect me against the legal (but, to me, unfair) mining and sale of my personal data.
In our data-saturated economy, privacy is becoming a luxury good. After all, as the saying goes, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product. And currently, we aren’t paying for very much of our technology.
Not long ago, we would have bought services as important to us as mail and news. Now, however, we get all those services for free — and we pay with our personal data, which is spliced and diced and bought and sold.
Consider Google, which scans what you write in Gmail to offer advertisers a chance to promote their items based on your missives. Or a visit to an online news site where your data is secretly auctioned and sold before the page loads. Or Facebook, which allows marketers to turn your status updates into ads for their products.
Continue reading at nytimes.com.
|hard drive||backup data storage||$119.99|
|MiFi||portable Internet connection||$419.88|
|1Password||password management software||$69.99|
|flash drives||transfer files securely||$30|
|MaskMe||disposable identity service||$30|
|walkie-talkies||unmonitored short-range communications||$57.94|
|Riseup||e-mail service (donation)||$100|
|Silent Circle||encryption phone software||$124.80|
|Virgin Mobile||prepaid phone charges||$440|
|Off Pocket||cellphone Faraday cage||$85|
|Delete Me||data broker opt-out service||$209|
|MailStop Shield||data broker opt-out service||$35|
|Acxiom||info-request fee (Acxiom required me to send in $5 to obtain my data)||$5|
|laptop privacy filter||prevent snoopers||$34.05|
|SpiderOak||encrypted cloud storage||$232|
|Access Denied||RFID shielded wallet||