Categorized | Privacy

Privacy Preservation Tips

Posted on 27 May 2011

Protecting your privacy always entails balancing convenience against the level of privacy you desire.  Here are some topics to consider:

1. “Snail” Mail – Do you place your return address in the upper right-hand corner of envelopes you mail?  Did you know that with minimal hurdles federal agents can request a “mail cover” through the U.S. Postal Service, which entails transcribing every bit of information on the outside of an envelope addressed to a target of their investigation, including return address and postmark information?  Consider that using the recipient address for the return address rather than your own name and address would eliminate your personal information from being discovered through the use of a “mail cover”.

2. Email – If ever the old saying “you don’t get something for nothing” were ever more true, it would be in the area of “free” email accounts.  Sure, it is a great benefit to communicate with your friends, relatives and business associates by email without having to pay for it.  But are you aware of the trade off in protecting your privacy?  Take a look at the “G Mail” privacy policy or the “Yahoo” privacy policy – what information about yourself are giving up?   If you have no other choice but to use these free email services, do you take privacy precautions with your email address and account?  An email address like “georgeherbertwalkerbush@yahoo.com” or “barackhusseinobama@gmail.com” provides much more information about your identity than “texaspfortyone@yahoo.com” or “hubam@gmail.com”.  What about the information you give when you sign up for the account?  Do you have to give your true name in order to obtain the free email account?  How about your true address?  If you are required to give a birth date, does it have to be the exact date and year you were born or can it be a month or year in proximity to your true birthday?  What are the consequences of using something other than true birth date or true name, simply losing the “free” account?  Is that such a horrible trade-off for maintaining your privacy?  Is such a consequence ever even enforced?  Are you careful who you send emails to?  Should you have two or more different email addresses so that a recipient more likely to compromise your privacy shield won’t expose the identity or contents of your other addresses and accounts?  If you’ve been a little careless with the information you have provided to obtain these “free” accounts in the past, have you considered transitioning to a fresh one?

3. Financial Support – Do you support with your financial contributions people or organizations who blow the whistle on federal or state government corruption or illegal activities?  Have you considered that your credit card or check donation is traceable through the banking system?  Although a bit more inconvenient, consider using a money order made payable to the organization but blank as to your name or address.  Most grocery stores, many convenience stores and the U.S. Postal Service sell money orders.  Of course, purchasing the money order with cash will provide an additional layer of privacy as well.

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