Congress wants to censor the web.

In January 2012, Congress is set to debate the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act (PIPA), bills designed to let the US government block websites and information from the public.

Not only does this bill let the government restrict free speech, but also does not effectively address the issue of online piracy, the stated intention of the legislation.


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Who’s Following You Online?

Do you really know who might be tracking you online? Who may have access to data you thought was private? Well, I’ve done some research and I’ve found a few different agencies and corporations that don’t really care about our privacy.

So far, I’ve found three major areas where personal privacy is generally ignored.

  • Information available on social networking sites
  • Advertising Companies
  • Laws regarding Data Retention

Many people do not understand that if they give out a little information, if someone is eager enough, and knows where to look, he/she can find much more information about them. Facebook is a prime example. If someone posts their date and place of birth on their wall, it isn’t too hard to derive that person’s Social Security Number!

Other risks exist as well. An in-browser text file, called a cookie, can be engineered so that the author of the cookie can track the person who has it. Advertisers can use cookies to track individuals’ browsing in order to tailor ads to their interests.

Also concerning, a law from the Department of Justice, Title 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(f) [which has recently been taken down, but was up at the time I wrote the article], states that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are required to store their customers’ browsing data for at least 90 days.

Here are a few things you can do to see who is tracking you with cookies.

  1. If you use Chrome or Firefox, you can install an plugin called Ghostery. This will show you advertisers trying to put a cookie on your browser. You can even set it up to block these cookies if you wish.
  2. Monitor or block third party or all cookies.

In Firefox, go to Options, click the Privacy tab, and check out your current settings. Here is what I have chosen (click the pictures to enlarge).


Notice in the second picture that I have told Firefox to “ask me every time” about a cookie. This way I can tell every website I visit whether I want the cookies it’s trying to give me or not.

In Chrome, you can’t set it to pop up a window to ask if you want the cookie. However, you can block third party cookies by going to your Preferences page, click the Under The Hood tab, and click the Content Settings button. If you don’t want third party cookies, then choose that option in the Cookies section. You can also have the browser delete all your cookies when you close it. NOTE: If you want to save passwords and such, it’s not a good idea to check this box.

If you’re interested in discovering what I found, you can read my full article in PDF form. I’ve got all my sources and data included.

The Internet Is Open – NWTeche Version.pdf

Stay safe online!

-RED 7

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