We gave you some sound information in our April issue ("How secure is online buying?" page 8) on how to protect your privacy while using the Internet. Here are some additional Web sites that will teach you how to keep your personal data safe and secure from unwanted solicitors, hackers and scamming companies.
www.privacy.net from the Consumer Information Organization demonstrates how ad banners and cookies work and shows how much personal information companies can acquire from you as you move from site to site. It also lists consumer information and your state government's Internet policies and laws. It describes and links to many privacy software packages - including those that block cookies, hide your identity and send anonymous e-mail - which start at $15.
www.freedom.net, run by Montreal-based Zero-Knowledge Systems, activates multiple layers of encryption on all outgoing data and messages from your system. The site offers the latest in Internet privacy news. For a $50 fee you can register up to five separate anonymous identities (nyms). Nyms carry only the information you give them and identify you when you visit Web sites, send e-mail or perform other Internet activity. Subsequently, credit card purchases that you make over the Internet are safe: A purchase randomly selects an anonymous token that is traded for a nym that activates Freedom.
Most Internet addresses use the domains .com, .org, .edu, .net and .gov. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is considering the addition of new domains, which would open up millions of possible Web site names as early as 2001. Then you would be able to more readily identify the site's intended function. For example, .shop would identify e-commerce sites and .banc would indicate financial institutions.