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The Audacity to Spy
How Government, Business, and Hackers Rob Us of Privacy
Ever get the feeling you're being watched? The thieves that steal identities are using cutting-edge, high-tech tools that can take one fact from a social media site, another from an online travel survey, a third from a purchase made via the internet and even access highly confidential medical records. Little by little they piece together your buying habits, your religious and school affiliations, the names of your family and pets, your political views, your driving habits, the places you have vacationed, and much, much more.
This is not science fiction and this is not the future, this is what is happening to each and every one of us now - today. And although the vast majority of adults say they are concerned about providing personal information online, nearly 1/3 say they have never used a privacy setting on their computer, never inquired about the charities to whom they donate their money, never worried about someone accessing their medical information and never thought twice about giving a financial institution their social security number over the internet.
The Audacity to Spy, written by an attorney with an interest in privacy laws and legislation and her grandmother who is an experienced Information Analyst, reveals the ways in which your identity and personal data have been stolen by various sources. Yes, you should be concerned about the NSA and other government agencies having your phone logs and emails; but you should worry more about the insidious data brokers that are collecting information about you every time you log on to your laptop, use your cell phone, access an app, or use your GPS. Companies are collecting a variety of data about you, combining it with location information, and using it to both personalize their own services and to sell to other advertisers for behavioral marketing. Law enforcement agencies are tracking your car and insurance companies are installing devices to monitor your driving. Clerks are making copies of your credit cards. And if that wasn't enough, the FBI has reported that hackers have been discovered embedding malicious software in two million computers, opening a virtual door for criminals to rifle through users's valuable personal and financial information.
More than warning you about the ways your data can be stolen, at the end of each chapter are suggestions for limiting the amount of personal data that is available to be seized and divulged. Can you completely cut off the flow of information about yourself? The answer is no, not completely - there is already too much data out there and increasingly sophisticated ways to obtain bits and pieces. But knowing how it is collected, and by whom, gives you the power to control sensitive information and determine how much of your life you wish to expose to those more than willing to exploit it.