A Question fo Privacy on the Web

I put a question to my students that sparked a great argument. So much so, I wanted to put it to you.

There are two extreme views of privacy on the Web. The first, quoted by PCWeek’s Scott McNealy, “You have zero privacy now, get over it.” The second, stated by numerous groups, is a call for total privacy.

The problem is, the Web by its very nature, disallows privacy. The programming must know where to send files to get them to you.

Unless you own your own system, you are buying space on another’s so that limits your privacy. You cannot claim chat rooms are private because they are open forums. Email isn’t private because a copy is made at multiple points simply due to how the system works.

What’s more, total privacy is dangerous in that it allows people who would use the net to lure young people into bad situations (and other crimes) to work in secrecy.

On the other hand, the selling of email addresses and personal information is awful. DoubleClick is “profiling” people through cookies as they move around the Web.
Is this bad because you’re being tracked like a bear in a nature documentary or is it good because banner ads only offering things you might like pop up and specials you might enjoy show up in your email box.

So, what of it? Privacy, no privacy, limited privacy?

What is it you want - what is it you can have?

There are three kinds of people: Those who can count and those who can’t.

Oh – that’s embarrassing…

I meant “A question OF Privacy on the Web”


There are three kinds of people: Those who can count and those who can’t.


Tough to debate something so broad or vague you’ll be vectoring all over the place. Might be good for identifying and cataloging the issues though so you could debate or discuss more focused topics. May be make up a tree structure of the issue and post it.

DoubleClick is being called to task by a women in Calf. Its interesting as the info DoubleClick is getting is not as detailed as can be gained about you by other means. Buying and selling of shopping habits is not new, DoubleClick has just automated the process.

I saw some mention of the DoubleClick issue but have not gotten a detailed report yet. They made it through the FTC hearings a while ago so it will be tough to make something stick in court. You might be able to get the hearing transcripts. Very good lawyers were there because the merging the two marketing information companies brought out all aspects of the privacy issues. Consumer groups and others were there.

As currently presented, I think the OP belongs in Great Debates as there’s no clear question of fact. As well as I can answer, I think the PC Week writer quoted summed up the situation well. You don’t, by the nature of the beast, have privacy on the web, and you should not expect it. If the wild and crazy environment of some sites or chat rooms beckons your inner thoughts and desires, pursue their expression with the knowledge that everybody has the opportunity to know of them. The reality is that few will, but the ones who care enough to find out what you’re onto are probably the last on your list of those you’d want to know.

There is no privacy on the web and I cannot see how people would expect there to be. You can look up just about anything you want to about someone if you are willing to pay a price…and sometimes it’s free. There is another thread running right now I think in MPSIMS where for $29.95 you can get criminal histories run, back ground checks, etc. on anyone. I used to work for the local law enforcement office as a dispatcher. There were times when we did have to run criminal histories on people…to see if they were wanted in other states and also for handgun permits. Every single history had better be legit or they would give us the third degree. Now you can get them on the net all day long. Times have changed.

“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

  • Intern to El Presidente
    Self-Righteous Clique *

Why not just visit the cops & ask them to run a search?

Note, there wasn’t privacy before the web, so there isn’t privacy now either.

For me, the question of privacy on the web is rather different than it’s been presented here. There’s no way to be a hermit online (much to my chagrin). Out of nowhere I get e-mails with titles like DO YOU NEED TO GET OFF??? and MIRACLE PRODUCT- CLICK HERE. I didn’t ask for this, but just in participating in the world of the on-line, I must accept it. They’ll get your address, they’ll get your credit card number; you can’t reasonably prevent it.

I’m more concerned about anonymity on-line. I’m quite apprehensive of the idea of anyone finding out who I am. For example, I don’t use my name as a UserName, lest I be recognized. In fact, if anyone I know learned who wolfstu is, I’d probably panic and move out of town.

So, I confine my internet mobility to places where I won’t be known (or else I have to adopt a whole new personality). This is the most privacy I seem to be able to maintain on-line.