You Can’t Be Anonymous Online If You…

You Can’t Be Anonymous Online If You…
1. Join virtually any social network
2. Post a photo of yourself anywhere online
3. Share key identifying information about yourself
4. Use the same pseudonym or email address as your identity on multiple communities
5. Sign a guestbook or add a Facebook application to your profile.

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good point in the article

As the head of Sun, Scott McNealy said nearly a decade ago, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

McNealy's trashtalk

Apart from using that classic fingernail-on-the-chalkboard phrase "Get over it," McNealy was wrong then and he's wrong now--but it's a convenient way to avoid actual issues related to privacy.

"Zero privacy" is nonsense. You don't know what books I read from the library--fortunately, Scott McNealy doesn't control libraries. You don't know what I buy with cash purchases. You don't know my opinions on most topics.

It's a nicely Orwellian leap: You have less privacy now than you did 50 years ago. Thus, you have zero privacy now. But then, any time someone says "Get over it," there's reason to presume that what they're saying is stronger in rhetoric than reality.

I have the illusion of anonymity...

I use this ID everywhere, but yeah, if anyone really wanted to know who I was, it might take them 30 minutes to find out...

I'm no longer looking to be

I'm no longer looking to be anonymous. I'm looking to control what gets connected to my real name.

That's something I've done by selecting a name (ellbeecee) too connect to my real name. While I doubt that the other name I use would be impossible to connect to the real me, it's not what would come up in a casual search - someone would have to know some significant facts about me to find it.

And it's not that I'm doing anything major with that other name, just that I want a couple of places that I can be online that aren't directly connected with the name I've chosen to connect to my professional presence.

There are levels of privacy

I might not know what library books you take out, but then I could be standing behind you in the queue at the library and see them, I could be the Librarian signing them out to you (andf therefore also see everything you've taken out before as well) or I could be your friend who sees your books on your living room table.
I can't track what you buy with cash but I could be the person behind you in the shop or in the street seeing the Victoria's Secret and Nordstromm bags that you are carrying I'd have a rough idea of what you'd been doing. Ok I might not know your name but I know private things about you.

Just a matter of what sort of information you are talking about. How many people have heard private conversations (on the phone or in person) on a bus, train, in the street, restaurant etc.

"Levels" and "no" hardly the same thing

OK, you say "there are levels of privacy." That is not the same as "You have no privacy."

One absolute falsehood in your comments, at least in most well-run libraries--well, that and something that's unlikely in most larger libraries:

"I could be the Librarian signing them out to you (andf therefore also see everything you've taken out before as well)"

1. It's VERY rare for librarians to be handling circulation--and, in most larger public libraries these days (certainly including mine), I "sign them out" myself. Otherwise, a library assistant might help.

2. No, "the Librarian" does not "also see everything you've taken out before as well"--not if the ILS is set up to respect confidentiality. (Not that it always is, and that's a separate issue that I've written about.) Most systems can be/should be/are configured so that the link between patron and item is broken after the item is returned. Your borrowing history should not exist.

And yes, I understand that if I go shouting out private information in a public place, on a cell phone or otherwise, it's no longer private. Which also doesn't entitle McNealy to tell me to "get over" the idea that I should have *any* privacy.

-It's VERY rare for

-It's VERY rare for librarians to be handling circulation--and, in most larger public libraries these days (certainly including mine), I "sign them out" myself. Otherwise, a library assistant might help.-

Depends on many things, size of Library etc but yes I should have put Library Assistant there as a better example.

>No, "the Librarian" does not "also see everything you've taken out before as well"--not if the ILS is set up to respect confidentiality. -

Again depends on what and how things are recorded. Several systems I've used have had exactly that or if not the borrowing record the record of any overdue materials. This level of privacy is only down to the level of which you give access to people who need access for their jobs (eg medical records) and how much you can trust them. Look at how many mdia stories come out from leaked materials (star A has mental problems, checked into rehab etc) that should be watertight.

-Which also doesn't entitle McNealy to tell me to "get over" the idea that I should have *any* privacy.-

Very true. I just think an awful lot of what people consider as privacy are automatically lost in modern society, and thats totally excepting anything online, you know you can't be totally anonymous but then who realistically has that expectation. People that point this sort of thing out are just rabble rousing.

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