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Privacy on the Internet: going or already gone?

Two recent stories in the New York Times summarize the issue of privacy in the digital age.

Markoff, in an article about the problems of security on the Internet, looks at how a more secure Internet might work. He says, “What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a ‘gated community’ where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users.”

And Cohen looks at how officially benign, anonymous data collection on the current Internet is often neither benign nor anonymous. He says that, “We are typically told that personal information is anonymously tracked for one reason — usually something abstract like making search results more accurate, recommending book titles or speeding traffic through the toll booths on the thruways. But it is then quickly converted into something traceable to an individual, and potentially life-changing.”

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