Several years ago, Sun Microsystem’s CEO Scott McNealu raised the hackles of privacy advocates everywhere, when he said of the lack of privacy on the Internet, “You already have zero privacy. Get over it.”
A good portion of the world, it seems, agrees with him.
At least, that’s what an article in Wired seems to say. According to the article, a surprising number of people aren’t particularly worried that spyware infects their system, watches what they do, and then reports on it.
The article talked about an apparently pernicious piece of spyware called Marketscore that rides on the back of the iMesh file-sharing application. The article notes that Marketscore not only tracks what sites users visit, but can even snoop on information entered on secure Web sites, including passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers.
So why aren’t people worried? Because they feel it’s the price you have to pay to get free software. “You have to support spyware if you’re going to have free file-sharing applications. Fair’s fair,” one college student told Wired, and apparently a fair number of other students agree with him.
I hope this is just an odd anomaly, and that McNealy’s words about privacy weren’t prescient. A world in which people are willing to give up their privacy, just to get some free software, isn’t a particularly appealing one.
After all, as the Firefox browser and other open source software shows, you don’t have to give up anything if you want solid, free software, least of all, your very identity.
What do you think about your privacy on the Internet? Let me know.