Friday, 3 October 2008

Obstacles to Newspaper 2.O - privacy

Leaving no tracks
Thursday, October 2, 2008

How is using a "private browsing" mode in a Web browser any different from just clearing out the temporary Internet files in a computer?
Certain Web browsers, like Apple's Safari and Microsoft's planned Internet Explorer 8, include a "private browsing" feature that is intended to let you surf the Internet without leaving any evidence of your travels on the computer. Although it has already been nicknamed "porn mode" by some, using the private browsing feature can help protect your personal information when, say, checking mail at a public computer.
Typically, when this feature is turned on, visited Web pages are not added to the browser's history file, text from autofilled forms is not retained and keywords are wiped from the menu in the browser's search box. Cookies and passwords are erased as well.
With Safari, you have to manually turn on the Private Browsing mode under the Safari or Edit menu and click through a warning box each time you start it. (A quick tip for Mac OS X 10.5 users: Hold down the Option key when selecting Private Browsing to bypass the warning box.)
Private browsing takes care of dumping these Internet files for you - or it doesn't save the information to begin with. Manually dumping the browser's cache, cookies and other data clears out much of the same material, but you have to remember to do it. You can also configure your browser to do it for you when you close the program.
These settings can usually be configured in the browser's options or preferences area. For example, Firefox has a Clear Private Data item under its Tools menu. You select the items you wish to whack in the program's Privacy settings.
One thing to remember if you're really paranoid: In theory, if the Web page bits and other data are downloaded to the computer in the first place, it could be possible for someone to snag the information using a file recovery program - even if the temporary Internet files have been deleted.


International Herald Tribune
New York Times

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