Monday, March 2, 2020

The Myth of Security and Privacy

Annamaria on Monday

I must have asked eighty people over the last six months: Do you think there is any such thing as security and privacy on the Internet?  No one, so far, has said yes. 

And yet….

Many times every day we are all inconvenienced by vain measures supposedly aimed at protecting—or if truth were told, perpetuating the myth that there are such things as security and privacy.

Sometimes these measures are just a minor inconvenience, such as: In the two months I just spent in Italy, every time I went to any website, I had to endure the EU’s warning that the website used cookies.  For instance, I had to agree to cookies every time I logged on to MIE, which I do every day, sometimes more than once.

The only kind of cookies that interest me are oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, and especially those dark chocolate ones I get in the supermarket across the Ponte Vecchio from my place.

Over the past months, if I had eaten one of those whenever the EU required me to accept cookies, I would have gained eight pounds.

I am supposed to believe that all of this annoyance is for my protection.  BUT to what avail?


Hackers are attacking everything and everybody.  And they are succeeding.  Do passwords, stronger passwords, changing passwords every few months or couple of years or every five minutes really help?  Nah!  I gave up on that after Equifax was hacked.


Because I once ran a company that used the Equifax database, I know what’s in it.   EVERYTHING.  Where you live, where you keep your money, how much you owe, who you associate with, what you do, where you do it, what credit cards you use…..   As far as I can see, anything remotely resembling privacy and security went right out a Microsoft window the second that credit card databases were hooked up to the Internet.

Welcome to the Brave New World.  Privacy and security are meaningless terms.

But take heart.  The United States Government is doing its level best to protect you from me.  Starting next October, they will not let me get on a domestic flight unless I have a “hard” driver’s license.  The hardest thing about this kind of license is what it takes to get one.  When I went to the dreaded DMV to renew my license last year, I thought I was prepared to get one with a star.  I took all kinds of paperwork with me.  BUT my social security card was not the original, but a copy.  No original, no star, no getting on a plane.

So I took another half day and went to the Social Security office and applied for a replacement.  One eventually came in the mail.  But then I went to Italy for a while so I could communicate with the European Union about cookies.

Home again, this past week I took my shiny new social security card to the DMV.  BUT.  My name on my passport carries my middle name spelled out and my driver’s license has only my middle initial.  That means the United States Government cannot be sure that I am really me.  Here is the list of what I have to bring next time:

·      My birth certificate
·      My marriage certificate for my first marriage
·      My divorce papers from that first marriage
·      My valid passport
·      My new original social security card
·      An original of my recent bank statement or my Con Edison bill.  Whichever one I bring must show my home address
·      My current valid driver’s license

The young woman who gave me this list warned me that the middle name/middle initial problem may still prevent me from getting a star.  The United States Government may still consider me too potentially dangerous to allow me to board an airplane.

It would however allow me to buy assault weapons, as many as I want.  With lots of ammo.

It is, they say, my constitutional right to own an AK47 without a license.  But, starting next October, my right to fly using my driver’s license as ID will be revoked. 


  1. I presume you can use your passport. That may be the answer. That way, if you don't like the place you flew to, you can always hop on the next plane to Florence!

    1. Yes, Michael. But I still think it’s absurd that I will have to carry two forms of ID if I want to drive myself to the airport to take domestic flight, but I won’t need any to take a taxi to take train to Virginia to buy myself and AK47.

  2. I kind of hope to negotiate the remainder of my life without ever entering another airplane. Problem solved. But, yes, the whole gun issue is insane. Aren't humans endlessly amazingly depressingly fascinating?

    1. EvKa, you and I agree on many, many things, but we are polar opposites when it comes to travel. I love being on the road. You might think that traveling on business 40-60% of the time for years - until I burned out in that job - would have cured me. But my wanderlust is alive and well and (ahem) moving me to go places.

      Humans are, as you say, a fascinating species. I just wish there weren’t so many inhumane ones.

  3. We are living in the Age of Absurdity. Can't travel by plane, but can purchase an automatic weapon. What does this all mean?

    But I like the look of those dark chocolate cookies, will have to look for them.

  4. As ever, Kathy, you and I are on the same page, even when it comes to chocolate. I hope you can find the cookies. They are yummy.

  5. I'm all in with you on the oatmeal raisin and Bahlsens. As for the Driver License fiasco, it is going to unleash a whirlwind....okay, won't go there. Easiest way is get forget about the star-studded driver license morass and get a passport card or use your global entry card. They're both acceptable.

  6. Thank you flor this valuable information, Bro. Until now, I did not know that my Global Entry card would do the trick. Now if we can get a law passed that makes buying an AK47 as hard as getting on a plane, I will be happy.