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Introduction > How This Book Is Organized

How This Book Is Organized

There are a lot of ways to tackle the topic of privacy. For simplicity's sake, I organized this book based on where an intrusion is likely to occur, whether in your home, online, at work, or in public. To wit:

Chapter 1, Privacy at Risk. What's the big deal about privacy? Well, for starters, your computer is leaking your personal information all over the Internet, data brokers are selling your vital records to anyone who asks, and the Feds want to know what toothpaste you buy. In this chapter I lay out the growing risks to personal privacy, why the privacy protections we have are ineffectual, and what the future may hold.

Chapter 2, Privacy at Home. Your phone rings at dinner time—it's yet another telemarketer. Your fax machine is spewing out ads for cheap vacations and discount health insurance. Unwanted catalogs and credit card offers are spilling out of your mailbox. Your home computer is a data thief's playground—everything from your personal finances and correspondence to the web sites you visit is available to anyone with an interest and a few minutes alone with your stuff. This chapter shows you how to fight back against aggressive marketers and identity thieves, along with step-by-step instructions on how to secure your PC or a Mac, make your wireless home network hack-proof, and more.

Chapter 3, Privacy on the Net. Spammers, scammers, and hackers, oh my! In the age of the Internet, data thieves don't need to enter your living room to unlock your secrets. In this chapter I discuss the essential software that every Netizen needs, and offer advice on reducing junk email, removing spyware, recognizing "phisher" emails that try to steal your personal information, and keeping digital delinquents from taking over your machine. You'll also find out how to fend off cyber-stalkers, stop viruses from spreading, and shop safely online.

Chapter 4, Privacy at Work. Your boss would never spy on you, right? Don't be so sure. During the last decade employee surveillance has steadily risen, especially when it comes to electronic communications. More than two-thirds of all firms watch where their employees go on the Web, and around half scan employee email. In some cases employers are legally required to record all of your communications, though some go well beyond the letter of the law. This chapter will help you find out what your boss is doing, and then work out rules and guidelines you both can live with.

Chapter 5, Privacy in Public. What does your supermarket know about you? Who gets to look at your library or school records? What happens to your personal information when you visit the doctor or go to the bank? Is your soft drink spying on you? In this chapter I tackle what happens to your personal information when you enter the world at large. You'll learn how to keep your shopping history from being shared, to identify and remove radio frequency identification (RFID) tags hidden inside packaging, and what an airport security screener can and can't do when you pass through a checkpoint. I talk about the uses and abuses of private commercial databases, electronic toll payment systems, public video cameras, and more.

Chapter 6, Privacy and Your Uncle. Nobody knows you like your Uncle Sam, or collects more data. This chapter reveals what kind of dirt local, state, and federal entities gather about you and whom they're sharing it with. Along the way I discuss the differences between public and private information, how you can seal your court records, gain access to your FBI files, and avoid (or at least survive) a tax audit. You'll also read about the growth in DNA databases, the growing momentum toward a national ID card requirement, and the impact of laws like the Patriot Act on our civil liberties.

Chapter 7, Privacy in the Future. Don't fret. While you sit there worrying about who may be stealing your data, smart people are working on solutions to problems like spam, phishing, spyware, identity theft, and the abuse of commercial and public data. Here I'll explore the possible cures for our worst privacy ills.

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