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    Op-Ed at PC World: The 5 biggest online privacy threats of 2013

    In an opinion column for PC World, Melissa Riofrio lists the threats she sees to Internet users’ privacy rights:

    Your online life may not seem worth tracking as you browse websites, store content in the cloud, and post updates to social networking sites. But the data you generate is a rich trove of information that says more about you than you realize—and it’s a tempting treasure for marketers and law enforcement officials alike.

    Battles have long raged over how third parties can access and use your data. […]

    Every move we make on our PCs, smartphones, and tablets turns into a data point that trackers can easily collect and share. And you effectively agree to such collecting and sharing whenever you sign up for an online service and accept its privacy policy. […]

    Federal law may or may not mitigate the privacy threats. Efforts to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) aim to make your online data harder to collect and share. Meanwhile, proposed legislation called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) could make it easier to obtain.

    As you watch your privacy being kicked around like a football in a scrum, pay close attention to the following five major threats.

    #1: Cookie proliferation
    The invisible cookie software agents that track your browsing habits and personal data are likely to multiply in 2013. Advertising networks, marketers, and other data profiteers depend on cookies to learn more about who you are—and what you may be interested in buying. Unless legislation imposes legal restraints on Web-browser tracking, your system is likely to accumulate more cookies than you’d find in a box of Chips Ahoy. […]

    #2: Seizing cloud data
    You love how easy it is to grab data from the cloud—and so do law enforcement agencies. And there’s only going to be more of that data to love in coming years: Gartner predicts that 36 percent of U.S. consumer content will be stored in the cloud by 2016.

    But whether you use a Web-based email service, keep files in Google Drive, or upload photos to Shutterfly, everything you write, upload, or post gets stored in a server that belongs to the online service, not to you. And because of outdated rules enumerated in the ECPA, this cloud-based data is vulnerable to a privacy loophole so big that a Google self-driving car could roll through it.

    Read about more threats to the privacy of Internet users in the full story.

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