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Chapter 5. Connecting to the Internet (G... > Internet Security Checklist - Pg. 65

Connecting to the Internet (Growing into a Village) 65 monitored the Web sites you visit and found you taking an interest in cancer information. They might report this to your insurance company, who might raise your rates or drop your coverage for fear of having to pay for cancer treatment. This example is completely fabricated, but it could happen. There are many additional reasons for protecting this information, and, as they say, "Truth is stranger than fiction." One example that actually occurs and often goes unknown for a long time is identity theft . If someone gets your Social Security number or taxpayer ID, they can get state identification as you in another state. With that, they can get credit cards, apartments, whatever--all in your name. They can request additional data about you by using this identification, and use that data to take out loans, buy cars, rent hotels, or travel. There is no real limit to what they can do, because to the rest of the world, they are you. As long as they stop using your identification and move on before you catch them, they can get away with this type of thing for a long time. People have had credit ratings ruined, houses foreclosed on, and incredible hassles from cases of identity theft, and this is only getting easier as more people use computers and have that data exposed online. These examples show why you need to monitor your online privacy. The Platform for Privacy Pref- erences Project (P3P) from the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) provides a set of rules that companies who build sites and software can use to help you control who gets what access to your information. You can learn more at the W3C Web site ( Here's a quote from their site: The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, is emerging as an industry standard providing a simple, automated way for users to gain more control over the use of personal information on Web sites they visit. At its most basic level, P3P is a standardized set of multiple-choice questions, covering all the major aspects of a Web site's privacy policies. Taken together, they present a clear snapshot of how a site handles personal information about its users. P3P-enabled Web sites make this information available in a standard, machine-readable format. P3P-enabled browsers can "read" this snapshot automatically and com- pare it to the consumer's own set of privacy preferences. P3P enhances user control by putting privacy policies