Americans are stockpiling their privacy. According to a new Pew survey, 86 percent of Internet users across the country have taken measures to delete or mask their digital footprints. They clear their cookies, encrypt emails, and log on to networks that obscure their IP addresses.
Presumably, the recent drive to hide our tracks on the Web stems from a string of news reports detailing just how much of the average citizen’s online activity the U.S. intelligence community can tap. But some of the most interesting numbers from the national survey aren’t related to the threat of digital snooping by the government.
A sizable 21 percent of Internet users have had their e-mail or social-media accounts hacked. Recent hacks of major publications and corporations’ websites and Twitter accounts show that, these days, no one is safe, not even the king bee Mark Zuckerberg, whose Facebook page was compromised last month to reveal a security flaw.
For the average citizen, such hacks usually come from criminals with an Internet connection. Eleven percent of users said they’ve had personal information, such as their credit-card or bank information and Social Security number, stolen online.
Half of Internet users are worried about the trove of personal information about them — birth dates, phone numbers, addresses — floating around on the Web. But what are average citizens really doing about it? They could add a few extra numbers or special characters to their dozens of passwords, but even that is ultimately futile. A report by Deloitte found early this year that more than 90 percent of user-generated passwords are vulnerable to hacking.
What happens on the Internet doesn’t always stay on the Internet, either. Thirteen percent of survey participants said something they posted online has gotten them in trouble with family members or friends off the Web. About 12 percent have been stalked or harassed online. Six percent have taken a hit to their real-life reputations because of events that transpired online, and 4 percent have found themselves in physical danger as a result of online activity.
According to the survey, 68 percent of Internet users think current laws are not successful enough in protecting their privacy online. But for the most part, it seems like many users have accepted the inevitable risks of living online. Even as they make moves to protect their online activity, 59 percent of Internet users don’t think it’s possible to remain completely anonymous.
Then again, a different statistic suggests Americans may be more apathetic about their privacy online than this Pew survey suggests: 47 percent say the media shouldn’t report on the government’s classified antiterrorism efforts, which includes secret surveillance of average citizens.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”