Created: 1995. Updated:2005



(How to Get Rid of Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers)


Privacy Organizations and Issues

See the very readable Federal Trade Commission website and resources on privacy, privacy protection, and identify theft. Also see Equifax information on identify theft and FICO credit ratings. If you are a victim of identify theft, call 1-877-IDTHEFT (877.438.4338).
The future of the Internet and the fate of the First Amendment in the Information age hang in the balance. For more information, see the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition.
Also see Russ Smith's Washington Watch for more information.
Glen Roberts' Full Disclosure site contains a wealth of information on freedom of speech on the Internet, how to get your FBI file, and other topics. It also tells you how to make anonymous telephone calls, surf anonymously, etc.
Top Guru tells you how to get removed from search engine databases. retailer cheats customers on privacy promise, saying in effect "We own the data we have about you, we won't show it to you, we won't delete it even if you ask, and we don't have to ask you if we decide to start selling it." Rumor has it that Amazon uses a cookie named "Z-Bubbles" to track you.
Don't miss the EPIC EPIC Online Guide to Privacy. The EPIC bill tracker lists current bills dealing with privacy, spam, and cyber-liberties.
and their affiliated organization Privacy International. PI
Also see the EFF Electronic Frontier Foundation, which promotes privacy on the Internet.

CDT Center for Democracy and Technology. Also see their Operation Opt-Out site to help you generate mail and online opt-out requests.

Privacy Council Privacy Council has a very useful privacy desktop section that includes information on spam, opting out, cookies, anonymizers, and more.
Note that in June of 2000, Congress passed a law making it illegal for states to sell drivers' license and motor vehicle information.

JunkBUSTERS Privacy Alert tells you how browser cookies can be used to invade your privacy. offers privacy information and resources and allows you to analyze your computer for privacy settings.

GILC Global Internet Liberty Campaign promotes privacy as well as freedom of speech on the Internet.
Internet Privacy Coalition includes current news items.
The Privacy Page includes current news items.
Voters Telecommunications Watch Actively participates in the democratic and legislative processes to promote civil liberties in telecommunications.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers excellent information on everything from junk mail to caller ID what to do when your wallet is stolen, and identity theft resources.
Hotwired/Lycos index of privacy resources.
Privacy Exchange - international resources.
Privacy International - a U.K watchdog group.
The Named, founded by America's leading privacy advocates, is dedicated to protecting your private data from being sold by others without your consent.
Big Brother Inside - Intel's plans to identify each CPU with a unique accessible serial number.
Privacy horror stories, privacy links, anonymous remailers, etc.
CPSR - Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility includes FAQs on social security numbers, content filtering, data privacy and junk mail.
The Privacy Forum offers privacy discussions. Also see Your Right to Privacy discussion forums.
TRUSTe is the Internet's leading privacy seal program.
Privacy, Inc. provides an internet background check.

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Privacy Information

  • Various PC magazines periodically address privacy issues. for example, see PC World, June 2000.
  • Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) provides current information on viruses, hoaxes, and security.
  • archives current articles on privacy. You can also search their archives.
  • The Privacy Power! shares information about privacy on the internet.
  • is a computer security web site providing information about security issues. They provide a catalog of security advisories, cryptography, text files, and denial of service attack information, and have a mirror of Web site defacements. They expose industry frauds and inform the public about incorrect information in computer security articles.
  • Privacy links
  • The World Wide Web Security FAQ
  • Privacy Journal
  • Robert's Crypto & PGP Links
  • Echelon Watch monitors the Echelon international data eavesdropping effort.
  • BBB Online - Better Business Bureau
  • Cyberspace Law for Non-Lawyers. A complete set of material, with abstracts.

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Reverse Phone Number Lookups

A number of search engines and investigative websites now offer reverse telephone number lookups. In order to prevent your phone numbers from being released by your phone companies, contact them and make sure your phone number is unlisted and non-published.
The following services offer reverse phone number lookup (there may be others). Enter your phone number with each of them and then follow their instructions to be removed from their database.
Be sure to be removed from the major credit bureau databases. Also see the telemarketing section.
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Privacy Newsgroups

Usenet newsgroups relating to privacy include:
  • alt.privacy
  • alt.privacy.spyware
  • alt.politics.datahighway
  • alt.privacy.anon-server
  • alt.privacy.clipper
  • alt.society.civil-liberty
  • comp.society.privacy
  • talk.politics.crypto

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Anonymizers, Remailers, and Encryption

If you want to send mail to someone without your email address being known or your return path being traced, use an anonymous remailer. Remailers are also helpful if you are concerned about privacy issues and the potential for government agencies to eavesdrop on private email conversations. See this PC World article for more information: Will Anonymous E-Mail Become a Casualty of War?.
For more information, utilities and services, see the book: "Effective Encryption for Privacy" by John Wiley Publishers, April, 2002, ISBN:0471486574.
Also see:
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Pretty Good Privacy Encryption

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is cryptographic software that allows you to exchange email messages with both privacy and authentication. Privacy means that only those intended to receive your message can read it. Authentication proves that a message received from someone was actually sent by that person. For more information, see:
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Browsers, Cookies, and Internet Tracking


  • Visit the Cookie Central site to find out everything you wanted to know about cookies and how they are used to track your browsing habits.
  • See the World Wide Web Security FAQ section on cookies.
  • See EPIC information on cookies and FTC complaint against DoubleClick. Here is a USA Today article exposing DoubleClick's fraudulent tracking practices. See the C|Net article "DoubleClick accused of unlawful consumer data use" and this Wired article "Privacy Suit Against DoubleClick".
  • Hotwired articles: Introduction to Cookies and The Risks of Cookies.
  • Netscape's Communicator third party cookie option foiled
  • Paper on Data mining.
  • Netscape cookie specifications.
  • Netscape Secrets - browsing and privacy, including information about cookies, cache, and RefererHeader.
  • How Netscape's 'Whats Related' smart browsing feature compromises your privacy.
  • Article on cookies by Roger Clarke.
  • Another article on cookies.
  • Web Bugs are invisible graphics on a web page or with an email message that track your personal information. Here is additional information on this abuse of your privacy, and a potential solution.
    Yahoo is now using something called "web beacons" (like web bugs) to track Yahoo Group users - similar to cookies. See their updated privacy statement). About half-way down the page, in the section "Outside the Yahoo Network", you'll see a little click here link that will let you opt-out of their new tracking mechanism. Don't click on cancel opt-out on the next page.



  • - manage your online identity in an encrypted online storage vault.
  • Shields Up! - a free service to test the security of your system.


Opt out of internet tracking

Whenever you buy anything over the internet (or elsewhere) and whenever you supply personal information, be sure to read the firm's privacy statement and opt out of information sharing by insisting they do not release your information to anyone else.
A growing number of companies track your browsing habits and establish cumulative records (profiles) of you from multiple sources. These firms obtain information by following your click-though of banner ads and by placing cookies on your system. By combining name and address information available from other sources, a complete profile may be accumulated. It is strongly recommended that you opt out of these profiling programs. More information is available under the information section, above.
The following internet advertisers allow you to opt out of their profiling. This is usually done by allowing them to set an "opt-out" cookie on your system. In light of DoubleClick's fraudulent internet tracking, it is particularly important for you to opt out:
You must send an email to the following companies to opt out:
  • 24/7 Media - send an email to and request to opt out. Provide your name, complete street address, city, state, ZIP code and e-mail address.
  • Adsmart - send an email to and request to opt out. (Their parent company is Engage, listed above).
  • MatchLogic - to remove your personal information from their database, send an email to with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line, request to opt out, and provide your name and address. MatchLogic will process your request and send you a confirmation e-mail.
  • Real Media - send an email to and request to opt out.
You can file a complaint through the Network Advertising Initiative Compliance Program against any NAI member failing to comply with privacy regulations.

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Firewalls act as a barrier to hackers trying to enter your system. If you have a full-time cable connection to the internet, you need a firewall. Even if you only dial-in, the first five minutes after connecting are the most vulnerable to hacking. Hacker robots routinely scan for new connections to ISPs and then probe the connecting systems. More information is available at Network Ice. Use Steve Gibson's Shields Up! site to probe your PC and warn you of security holes. Security test scanning services are also available at PC Magazine, June 2000, has a section on Protecting Your Desktop. PC firewall products include:
  • Astaro Linux firewall product.
  • The Home PC Firewall Guide provides easy access to independent, third-party reviews of Internet security products for home, telecommuter, and SOHO (small office, home office) end-users.
  • Norton Internet Security 2000 rated by PC Magazine the best all-around package, now available in three versions: firewall, basic and family security. It blocks banner ads and cookies, and is a complete firewall.
  • Zone Alarm is also a very good firewall product - free to individual users.
  • BlackICE Agent is not a firewall per se, but does alert you to hacking attempts, and is a good product to install on top of a firewall. They also have complete firewall products
  • eSafe Desktop
  • PC Viper
  • McAfee. Question their reliability. When they were taken over a few years ago, customers doing live updates of virus signatures were delivered marketing messages instead - which customers never saw, thinking their update worked perfectly.
Do see Steve Gibson's reviews of firewalls.
Tip: if you are on a stand-alone PC, turn off file and print sharing to help secure your system. To turn off file sharing, select start, then settings, then control panel, then network, then configuration, then file and print sharing, and turn off file sharing and print sharing by clicking each box to remove the check mark.
Mac firewall products include:
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You would be surprised at the information being collected about you by your software. Spyware is software that collects personal information about you and your internet browsing habits, even if the program is free, is not used, or is uninstalled.
Use this alphabetical list of spyware of infected programs, and you can search for a program by name to see if it is spyware infected.
John Fitzsimons has an very resource page on spyware. Be sure to review Steve Gibson's excellent material on spyware.
Spy Sweeper product.
Various spyware utilities are listed at, including utilities that detect and repair browser hijacking - commandeering of browser settings.

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News items

Security officials to spy on chat rooms, by Declan McCullagh CNET November 24, 2004, publisned by
The CIA is quietly funding federal research into surveillance of Internet chat rooms as part of an effort to identify possible terrorists, newly released documents reveal.
In April 2003, the CIA agreed to fund a series of research projects that the documents indicate were intended to create "new capabilities to combat terrorism through advanced technology." One of those projects is research at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., devoted to automated monitoring and profiling of the behavior of chat-room users.
Even though the money ostensibly comes from the National Science Foundation, CIA officials were involved in selecting recipients for the research grants, according to a contract between the two agencies obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and reviewed by CNET
A June 2004 paper they published, also funded by the NSF, described a project that quietly monitored users of the popular Undernet network, which has about 144,000 users and 50,000 channels. In the paper, Yener and Krishnamoorthy predicted their work "could aid (the) intelligence community to eavesdrop in chat rooms, profile chatters and identify hidden groups of chatters in a cost-effective way" and that their future research will focus on identifying "topic-based information."

Tenet calls for Internet security, The Washington Times, December 2, 2004
Former CIA Director George J. Tenet yesterday called for new security measures to guard against attacks on the United States that use the Internet, which he called "a potential Achilles' heel."
"I know that these actions will be controversial in this age when we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability," he told an information-technology security conference in Washington,...
Within the federal government, the Department of Homeland Security has the lead role in protecting the Internet from terrorism. But the department's head of cyber-security recently quit amid reports that he had clashed with his superiors....
Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said. Mr. Tenet called for industry to lead the way by "establishing and enforcing" security standards. Products need to be delivered to government and private-sector customers "with a new level of security and risk management already built in."
The national press, including United Press International (UPI), were excluded from yesterday's event, at Mr. Tenet's request, organizers said.

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Copyright 1995-2004 Fred Elbel. This material may be freely used and distributed only for non-commercial purposes, with credit. Nothing in this web site should be construed as legal advice. This web site is provided for information purposes only. Opinions presented are those of the author (or of other contributors as indicated). Trademarks and copyrighted items remain the property of the owner.