Extemporaneous does not intentionally collect or derive personal information from visitors, nor is your personal data intentionally shared with any third party. We believe that a) you have a right to privacy, b) that right should be rigorously protected, and c) the only real solution for privacy on the Internet is quickly deleting and/or removing any identifying personal data...or not storing them to begin with.
Why is online privacy important? It is critical that you take part in protecting your privacy, because your (and any online user's) privacy, whether intentionally or otherwise, is under attack.
Many people using the Internet think of their activities as relatively private. Visitors to websites typically do not understand the underlying technologies that make it possible to not only collect information about the type of equipment and/or software being used to connect to the website, but also to capture highly personalized data about the visitor. Between IP addresses, cookies, and social media linkages embedded within many websites today, your personal identity is likely known online...even before you begin to use with those websites. Combine that data with the information in corporate and/or governmental databases, as well as the history that many of the search engines capture regarding your likes, dislikes, interests and proclivities, and a moderately determined search can learn and/or disclose:
- Where you live (now including pictures...)
- Whether you own your home
- The value of your home
- Where you went to school
- What your grades were
- The names and identity of your parents
- The names and identity of your spouse
- The names and identity of your friends
- Whether you have children
- How many children you have
- Your sexual orientation
- Your religious affiliation
- Your political affiliation
- Whether you consume alcohol
- Whether you exercise regularly
- The status of your health
- What books you read
- Your credit history
- Your driving history
- Where you travel every day
- What routes you take to get to your destinations
- Topics in which you are interested
The short list above merely details a samplng of the types of data that are currently collected intentionally and/or may be derived from the information you likely transmit while using computers, cell phone, and smart phones. With the direction of current technology that type of information will shortly be collected from automobiles and other forms of transportation you use. The global positioning system (GPS) is embedded within many of our electronic devices today (phones, tablets, laptops, cameras...) Often, without realizing the effects of their actions, people use social media programs that enable the continuous tracking of their location and/or behavior. Have you ever seen those "Friend X is enjoying a coffee at Restaurant Y...?" In fact, a recent story highlighted the fact that the government can track you through your GPS-enabled device, often even after you believe you have disabled GPS on that device. While "safety" is the rationalization promoted for the government's ability to do so, should that not be your choice, rather than a company and/or persons that are unknown to you?
Note that what the above list does not include are the (many) accidental releases of personal information onto the Internet by corporations or the government. Social security numbers, credit card numbers, names, addresses, financial data...all of it has been unintentionally placed onto the Internet, and then collected by unethical groups/individuals or those search engines which do not respect the individual and collective privacy of society's members.
Further, the use of the above information is growing. Businesses, non-profits, schools, government agencies, insurers, doctors, lawyers...each of these types of organizations are increasingly intruding on your privacy, using all available sources of information to learn as much as possible about you -- perhaps to determine whether you are hired, fired, promoted, insured, admitted, arrested...
One point that the ixquick search engine makes in its policy is that search engines may be obligated to give your search history to law enforcement, "[s]imply because law enforcement asked for it, usually as part of a legal investigation. [...] However, search engines are not legally obligated to collect personal information in the first place. They do it on their own volition."
Fortunately, our societies are living, breathing, changeable entities that are capable of improving. By paying attention and directing a small amount of interest to the area of privacy, we can all make a difference. The following are some suggestions:
- Cookies and search engines are two of the main tools used to track and collect information about you on the Internet. Use web browsers with add-ons that block cookie collection, or allow you to selectively choose which cookies to allow.
- Turn off the GPS feature on your devices, except when absolutely needed.
- Support privacy initiatives when and where you can. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Mozilla Corporation are two organizations that have consistently shown a dedicated interest in protecting online privacy. If you know of other organizations working to protect online privacy, send feedback to the owners of Extemporaneous and those organizations will be included for their effects on this website.
- Use https (Secure HTTP) for visiting websites. Using https encrypts the information between you and the remote computer. While doing so still sends information to the remote computer, it prevents others outside of your communication with the remote website from watching your online actions. EFF is promoting HTTPS Everywhere to enourage the seamless and continuous use of https, where possible.
- Use web browser add-ons which allow you to control how information is transmitted from your browser, such as Adblock Plus, Beef Taco, (yes, really), Better Privacy, Disconnect, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, NoScript, PrivacySuite (Abine), Redirect Cleaner.
- Share information with others about your efforts to improve privacy.
- Use and promote search engines that respect everyone's right to privacy. At present, those search engines include (but are not limited to) DuckDuckGo, ixquick, StartPage, and Hide My Ass! Note that at present, Google and most other search engines DO track you (even if they provide a SSL website).