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The Internet and Privacy

Date: 06-12-04
Host: Art Bell
Guests: Lauren Weinstein

Lauren Weinstein, the founder of People for Internet Responsibility (PFIR) joined Art Saturday night to discuss privacy issues and the future of the Internet. Weinstein said the Internet was not originally designed for the things it's used for now, and this has resulted in many problems. One of those problems, according to Weinstein, is the increased traffic caused by junk email -- spam. He said more than half of all email is spam, and "unless it's dealt with through major changes fairly soon there's just not going to be anything left."

Weinstein suggested that requiring payments to send email (an often touted solution in the anti-spam community) is not practical and would be ineffective in stopping spam. In order to implement such a system, Weinstein claims it would require a way to identify senders, accept micropayments, and control the end email applications. The cost of doing this would be highly prohibitive, thus Weinstein concludes that "pay per message schemes... are doomed to failure."

Later, Weinstein covered various topics including encryption, black boxes, and RFID tags -- technologies that are surrounded with privacy concerns. He believes that we are living in the "Golden Age" of privacy, and that one day the idea of privacy will be archaic, if understood at all. This is something that, Weinstein cautions, "we should be very concerned about."

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