Personal Privacy

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Full Title or Meme

A list of various ways in which user private information can be protected by user actions now and in the future.

Context

Pages on the site where the broad definitions may be found:

  • Privacy is the page where the broad definitions may be found.
  • Identity Pathologies is the page where the various vulnerabilities are delineated.
  • User Private Information is the page were data is classified as to the Personal Information Exposure Risk is defined.
  • Privacy Regulation is the page where the thinking behind current Government actions is described and compared to the real problems that users would like to see corrected.

User private data is required for release of web resources. Minimizing the amount of data released or its misuse after release is the object of this effort to list the steps that can be taken today by user as well as the developments that are still evolving.

There are four entities that are in play here.

  1. The user on a user device (aka a user agent).
  2. The resource provider (aka a relying party.)
  3. Identifier or Attribute Providers.
  4. Data Harvester or Broker

Problems

Users have a variety of reasons not to let their personal information be broadly available, some of those are:

  • The right to the "let alone" based on a legal theory of Warren and Brandies.
    • Intimidation by people with evil intent (an active reason to be "let alone").
    • Government harassment (not always your own government), or worse.
    • Harassment by organizations what want to change the government, or worse.
    • Annoyance by trolls or advertisements by scammers looking profit by your vulnerability.
    • The easiest feature for any web site is allowing the user anytime access to remove themselves from any email.
    • The best feature for any web site is allowing the user anytime access to remove all record of them.
  • The use of personal data to "steal you identity"; often lumped with privacy, this is usually criminal larceny.
    • Loss of potential (or real) earnings or direct attack on funds on deposit.
    • Tracking on-line makes you feel weird (where there is not any direct personal loss).
    • Pretending to be you in order to cause you legal or social problems, possibly as a means of blackmail.
  • Embarrassment over one's past behavior or attributes (may also create direct personal loss).
  • Discrimination based on one's personal attributes, health history or behavior.
  • You are a crook or deviant.


There are benefits:

  • The user experience is more personal and directed to your interests.
  • Lots of valuable content on the web is free.

Solutions

These are the steps that should be considered now

  1. Newer browsers are more supportive of user privacy, but many of the most powerful features are off by default.
    1. Firefox released [1] new privacy tools like a feature for block ad-trackers, a container for web sites like Facebook, no video auto-start, etc.
    2. Chrome and Microsoft Edge come with powerful cloud based site validation.
  2. It is possible (albeit challenging) to install browser extensions on desktop computers that improve privacy:
    1. Tunnel Bear and IPVN create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect data in transit.
    2. Ghostery, Privacy Badger, AdBlock and others block ads and web trackers, some web sites will not work with these features fully enabled.
  3. Install two different browsers on your device and designate one of them for financial transactions with all security settings turned on.

These are some of the steps under development

  1. The GDPR is slowly going into effect starting on 2018-05-24. While this specifically targets EU residents, it is having world-wide effect.
  2. Consent Receipt spec has been released to developers.
  3. California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 is now law and will take full effect in 2019.
  4. DID, blockchain and a whole bunch of other blue sky musings.

References

  1. Brian X. Chen Firefox Is Back, With Improved Privacy Tools And Speed 2018-06-21 New York Times