Where is my privacy? Transparency out of control.

The other day, I pledged to a project on Kickstarter on May 18. It was the first time I made an account on that website. On May 22, I got an email from GoFundMe: a person named “Casey Atkins” (not a real name) was requesting for donations. I’ve never signed up for GoFundMe. Seriously, are Kickstarter and GoFundMe the same entity under the hood?

To advertisers, web publishers and app makers, your email is important not just for contacting you. It acts as a digital bread crumb for companies to link your activity across sites and apps to serve you relevant ads.

—Brian X. Chen, “Everyone Wants Your Email Address. Think Twice Before Sharing It.”

I suppose that the insistence of donation solicitors is not a very new problem. When I regaled my old mother with the suspicious behavior of Kickstarter/GoFundMe, she declared, “Never donate to a charity that appears at your door! They’ll know your address and come back with thugs!”

A snippet from the Noblesse webtoon, where a villain picks up a cellphone and gets a call from a loan spammer
The webtoon Noblesse makes fun of spam calls.

On the topic of spam calls, I registered my number at Do Not Call so I can stop getting robots asking me about my car warranty.

Last summer when I returned to my parents’ house, the tables were filled with junk mail. I went on a spree to cancel everything. I paid $2 to signed up with DMAchoice.org and put my family’s names on the Do not mail lists. The horrible thing is that my marketing opt-out will expire in 10 years. What makes you think that 10 years later, I’ll suddenly want junk mail from your random marketers any more than I want them today?

Oh sweet America, the land of marketing.

Some people come to the DMAchoice mail preference service planning on completely stopping all the direct mail they receive, because they think that doing so will help save paper and the environment.

I’m pretty sure most countries don’t have the infrastructure to send endless paper waste to random houses, and I hope they don’t copy the U.S.A. just because trees are “renewable.” DMAchoice says that “direct mail critical to the economic well-being of communities, businesses and charities”. What a load of horsesh!t.

The “pre-approved for credit card” offers are annoying because they come with a mock card, made from plastic, that’s worthless and is purposely meant to get thrown out. Seriously?

If you want to stop getting the cards, then OptOutPrescreen requires you to send a physical mail in order to opt-out of credit spam permanently. Wonderful.

USPS Mailboxes near the curb

I sent my opt-out on a rainy trip.

More data harvesting coming near you #

The lack of privacy is getting worse. Amazon Tile devices are available in retail stores, which means that Sidewalk, their IoT networking service is already spreading across the country. For anyone who owns an Amazon product, like an Alexa or Echo, and buys a comptaible model, they will automatically opt in to wifi-sharing with their neighbors. This just seems to have so many problems, no matter how vetted their security may be.

If we want internet connectivity to become universal, it should become a utility provided by the government instead of by a corporation. Otherwise, you can basically guarantee that your data is being harvested for profit. While I’m not a big fan of the NSA, at least the government has a minimum obligation to care about the citizens, and the GDPR is an international coalition for the right to internet data privacy.

Knowing anything about history, the government isn’t going to do anything until private companies commit some gross violation of human rights. Then internet will become a utility.

In terms of internet browsers, Google Chrome collects enough data to be an invasive species! My sister has been using the Brave browser, and I started using it on my phone. On my computer, I use Firefox with its plethora of privacy features, and the ad-blocker extension uBlock Origin is pretty good.

Seriously, an ad-blocker makes your internet experience much better.

A website with many ads and paywalls popping up

A parody of early 21st century websites

Privacy Actions #

In the meantime, I’ll continue researching ways to stay private. If you’re from a first world country, it’s considered strange if you lack an online presence, but oh well. After years of sign-ups with the same email, my address has been scattered to the ends of the earth. Who knows how many data breaches have spilled my name and info.

For more information on practices you can employ today, see:

Protect your search history #

Use anonymous search engines like:

Protect against data breaches #

Change the profiles of your online accounts to have fake details. For example, after I unsubscribed from Spotify, they still kept my billing address. I changed it to a fake address created from Fake Name Generator.

A more tedious method is to visit each data broker and complete their opt-out procedures:

Protect your purchase history #

Use Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency. It’s a non-fungible token, excellent for buying weed, drugs, and porn, which means it’s quite private! If the government decides to pass a law that makes an average person a criminal, Monero is a great tool.

Last updated: May 5, 2023