Monday, January 09, 2012
A Step Towards Anonymous Browsing on Mobile Devices
As Americans we “get” our right to privacy through provisions of the 1st, 4th and 14th amendments. We have the 1st amendment right to free assembly, the 4th amendment right be free from unwarranted search and seizure and the 14th amendment right to due process. Through these provisions the Supreme Court has addressed and upheld birth control rights, abortion rights, marriage rights, and child rearing rights among other issues related to privacy.
With the surge of people using the Internet over the past 2 decades, from children to college students to baby boomers, there is endless amounts of personal information on the internet, some of it intentionally put there and some of it not intentionally publicized. It is harder to maintain ones privacy in this world of instant Facebook access and oversharing on Twitter. Adding to this dilemma is the advent of the smart phone, from Iphones to Blackberries, you can now remotely upload a picture to Facebook, you can browse the Internet on the train, and update your blog while out to dinner.
Using these devices can leave the user or others vulnerable to their privacy being invaded. Not only can others access public Facebook profiles and see content that 3rd parties in pictures or mentioned may not be aware of, but websites track browsing and respond with ads and suggestions, not to mention the dangerous problems of phishing, hacking and identity theft. For example Google scans emails and then advertises for things mentioned in “personal” emails. Anyone with access to your computer or device can check your history and see where you have been poking around on the Internet.
This week, Apple approved the use of an application that will now be offered in the App Store. This Covert Browser for Ipad will allow users to confidentially browse the Internet (a similar App is also available for the Iphone). Although there are kinks to be worked out, you can purchase the peace of mind of “completely” anonymous web browsing for just $2.99. The Covert Browser is a much more secure way to browse than other secure networks. The technology behind the application is Tor. Tor triple encrypts data and routes it through three computers whereas other secure browsing only route through one computer, leaving users vulnerable to the companies responsible for the routing. The Apple endorsed application is a much needed move towards privacy for mobile devices.
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