7.27 Activity 6

This activity aims to demonstrate how much information we give out when surfing the internet.

Activity 6: Do your own privacy test

Click on the following links and make a note of the information they provide about you and your computer:

  • Leader's Smart Guide

  • Junkbusters alert on web privacy

The first will give a list of the following collected information – reported remote internet protocol (IP) address, your browser, your operating system (e.g. Windows XP), the referrer (the Web address you linked from – i.e. this one), whether a proxy was used, the nearest proxy, and your ISP or your employer's client IP address and mail server. In other words, they know the kind of software you are using and probably your location.

Junkbusters does a similar analysis and provides a link to the type of information about people that gets processed without their knowledge. It should be noted that Junkbusters is a campaigning organisation.

Now read Chapter 1 of the Center for Democracy and Technology's (CDT) Guide to Online Privacy. Note: Whereas consumers' associations are sometimes accused of being ‘anti-business’, the same cannot be said of the CDT, which is very much in favour of facilitating an environment where business can thrive. They are also funded by many large organisations, such as AOL, Microsoft, Ford, IBM and the RIAA, among others.

Now read Fourteen Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online.

The object of this activity is for you to act on the advice given by the CDT. See how many of the 14 (especially the final tip to ‘use common sense’ is probably the most important of the lot) you can do in one hour.

For example, under item 3 ‘Get a separate account for your personal e-mail‘, you could sign up for a free web-based email account at Cyber Rights.

Try out your new-found privacy awareness at no more than four of the following websites. Focus on:

  • the information the site already knows about you;

  • the information it is trying to collect;

  • whether it is intrusive.

Record your findings in your Learning Journal.

  • Electronic Privacy Information Center

  • Foundation for Information Policy Research

  • Powell's Books

  • Amazon


  • Google

  • eBay

  • Arts and Letters Daily

  • The Irish Times

  • New York Times

  • The Times

  • Atlantic Monthly

  • Electronic Telegraph

  • BBC News

  • RTE News

  • MP3.com

  • Hacker 2600 Magazine

  • Slashdot

  • Linux Journal

  • Clay Shirky's writings about the internet

  • Walt Mossberg's Personal Technology Column from the Wall Street Journal

  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

  • IETF

  • Bodleian Library, Oxford

  • Project Gutenberg

  • The Science Museum, London

  • GILC

  • The Ethical Spectacle

  • Encyclopedia Brittanica online

  • Electronic Libraries online encyclopedia

  • The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  • Free Online Dictionary of Computing

  • World Wide Words – Exploring the English lanquaqe

  • Project Diana

  • ICANNWatch

Privacy is like oxygen. We really appreciate it only when it is gone.

(Charles Sykes)

7.26 Privacy suits: DoubleClick and Toysmart

7.28 Summary and SAQs