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Elaine Ou

The Internet Should Hide Your Data, Not Share It

Internet security, like vaccination, should aim to protect the whole herd.

Just minding her own business.

Just minding her own business.

Photographer: Bloomberg

Back in my days as a web developer, we did our development and testing in porn mode. Those outside the industry might refer to this as an “incognito window,” but the phrase “porn mode” is universally understood because usually no one opens an incognito window unless they’re about to load something unseemly.

I remembered that when I read Alistair Barr’s account of his attempt to delete his user data, under the auspices of California’s new Consumer Privacy Act. The process is so cumbersome — it takes more than two hours and requires uploading selfies and a photo ID — that it ends up having the opposite of the intended effect. Instead of granting consumer privacy, the act of submitting a data deletion request draws undue attention to those seeking anonymity.