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PRIVACY LOST!

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(for more by Seese, see www.tech.com.au/flagship and www.politicalusa.com)

THE DEMISE OF PRIVACY IN AMERICA
(February 9, 2001)

Most grocery stores now have dandy little plastic cards that get nice discounts for customers. Just hand the checkout clerk the card to be scanned before the groceries start rolling past the scanner and voila! Nice discounts.

But there's more than discounts to this game, as most people know by now. They're keeping track of what we buy.

On my paranoid days, I envision receiving a letter from my insurance carrier telling me that I purchase and therefore probably consume no-no foods such as bacon, eggs, bagels and cream cheese, cheddar goldfish snacks and jellybeans. It may even give me instructions to report to my doctor for lab tests to check my cholesterol level. Ack.

They don't keep those records just to store data, you know.

Of course they're interested in our buying habits. In that category I am probably entered in the following slots: cheapskate, sale-maniac, cat owner and coffee addict.

All of the above could be used to my disadvantage in some way.

I've never been concerned about being wire-tapped or bugged, because the life I lead is quite dull, law-abiding and nearly void of television viewing. I am an internet junkie and doubtless my ISP has horrible logs about my online time.

However, all of my radical opinions are published on the net, and can be viewed by the whole world by going to www.tech.com.au/flagship or www.politicalusa.com. Try it!

The other day I added a couple new search engines to my list and to give one of them a test, I typed in my name, Dorothy Seese. That was a mistake. It's a good search engine but it turned up more information about me than I wanted to know. They even revealed the dark secret that as a child I had been in the cast of some B films made by Columbia back in the dark ages. That's a case of overkill or carrying efficiency to the outer limits of extremism.

However, until the past four years, the word "cookie" had meant something edible, as in chocolate chip, ginger snap or pecan sandy.

Now, cookies are little programs that hide deep inside my computer, identifying me, pegging me and mercy ... what else I have no idea. All I know is, they are there. I could delete them or refuse them, but then I can't get to where I want to go.

Privacy? My privacy went out when databases came in. Privacy in America is more of an illusion out of the pre-computer past than anything else.

It's what the possessors of this information are going to do with what they collect that concerns me.

As long as I express my opinions on the internet for all the world to see, I might as well add one here.

I don't like people collecting information on me. I don't appreciate having my computer port-scanned and that's why I got a firewall. But cookies I got ... in the pantry and in the computer.

The age of privacy in America is as much history as Nero's fiddle. Actually, no one has ever proved Nero owned a fiddle. But anyone can access various databases about me.

AND ABOUT YOU. Sleep well tonight.