Leave Me Alone

Forget the TSA groping your privates. They're just trying to stop someone from killing you.

Sami Sarkis | Getty Images

The real threat to privacy is on the internet.

Hence the move by the Federal Trade Commission to consider instituting a "Do Not Track" policy, a web version of the "Do Not Call" list.

Good luck.

Several stories hint that such a policy will be difficult to pull off.

There are threats of unintended consequences, like subjecting people to more ads, not fewer. One expert believes barring access to tracking people could mean those same people will have to pay for browsing. And others suggest that some applications, like Adobe Flash, may store "cookies" in a way that can't be stopped by managing settings on a desktop.

I understand that Google is free, and that the search giant and others make money on advertising. The more targeted the advertising—based on my search habits—the more efficient and profitable for all. That said, I would like to clearly understand what's being tracked and how I can both monitor and limit it.

Mostly, though, I just want to be left alone.

If only there was a way to deter these computer algorithms—to bite back at the "cookie"—the way we used to abuse telemarketers.

I almost miss telemarketers.

At least they were human (ok, I don't miss them that much). For a nostalgic laugh, listen here to what may be the best phone prank ever, as a man who gets a call from a telemarketer turns the tables in a terrifying way. Can't do this to a software program.

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