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Chapter 8. Ensuring Privacy and Security > How Private—and Secure—Is the Web?

How Private—and Secure—Is the Web?

The Web is, by turns, the most public of places and the most private of places. It’s an environment where your every movement can be tracked (down to the last byte downloaded), but it’s also an environment that encourages and facilitates anonymity. Depending on which choices you make, your entire online life can be open for all to see—or you can hide behind a pseudonym and pretend to be someone you’re not.

While Americans definitely value their privacy, there has always been a trade-off between confidentiality and convenience. To get the convenience of a monthly magazine subscription, for example, you sacrifice the confidentiality of your name and address, and eventually end up with a mailbox full of junk mail. To obtain the purchasing convenience of a charge card, you agree to turn over your private financial records to the issuing company—and that company then sells your information to other companies who pester you with dinnertime telemarketing calls for additional credit cards and home equity loans.


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