A well-meaning but ultimately sketchy study that tackles the problem of maintaining privacy in the ever-developing world of the Internet.
The title refers to the theory that, even if you have bars and locks on 99 of your 100 windows, only one left open and unguarded will put you at risk. The authors, cofounders of the Internet watchdog group TRUSTe, paint a scary portrait. Individuals are being monitored electronically every minute of the day, they claim, via e-mail, chat groups, cellular telephones, and illicit spy-cams that feed unauthorized video onto the Net. The Internet has evolved from a noncommercial arena into one that is largely driven by e-commerce, and this has led to the growing importance of data collection on individuals—known as PII (“personally identifiable information”)—in order to capture tastes, values, and behavior of consumers. Anyone can click onto a website and thus unwittingly become an identifiable piece of data—to be passed around and used by companies, the government, or individuals. While PII collection has enabled e-commerce to offer helpful customized goods and services, the relatively easy access to personal information can lead to harassment, identity theft, online fraud, racial profiling, and other dangers. Because of modern computing systems’ flaws and the rapid development of the Internet, the authors admit that it is hard to offer solutions to the privacy issue. They do offer some useful tips and tricks (such as suggesting that you create an online identity that is separate from your e-mail address and do not reply directly to spammers), and there is a chapter that ranks the ten companies with the best privacy sites. Articles in the appendix show how Big Brother is indeed watching over us.
A warning and a foreshadowing of what will ultimately be a major issue in the years to come within the electronic world.