There's a great "Cathy" cartoon in which Cathy's boyfriend Irving examines a list of Web sites she's recently visited. "The next time you log on," he remarks, "you should see an ad for singles weight-loss spas in Italy that allow dogs." Cathy run off in distress as Irving reflects, "Everybody wants to be understood. No one wants to be known."

This cartoon captures a common worry: What will my data and transactions reveal about me to strangers? People are concerned about the privacy of their medical, financial, personal and professional information. They're uneasy about others knowing what books they read and what movies they see, what clubs and political parties they belong to, when they are traveling and where. They fear that dissemination of private data could lead to identity theft, increased telemarketing calls and spam, larger debt (from responding to those personally targeted marketing pitches) and unwanted attention from the government.

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