Larry Magid: Can You Really Be Anonymous Online?

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Almost 90 percent of people who participated in a new survey said they took steps to conceal their identities and their browsing history on the Internet.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center also found skepticism that it was really possible to be completely anonymous online.

It’s very difficult for even experts to truly protect themselves, and I speak in public on this issue. A lot of people don’t exactly know what to do, other than delete their cookies or use fake names or aliases online.

I was shocked that 20 percent of surveyed said they have had an email or social network account compromised or taken over. Those are serious security issues.

Twelve percent said they’ve been stalked or harassed online. I’m not sure how they defined harassment, but the bottom line is that there are some issues that people encounter online just as they do in the real world.

When it comes to laws protecting privacy, the survey found 68 percent of online users have said current laws are not good enough. That should send a clear message to lawmakers and the government.

The Obama administration has proposed a Privacy Bill of Rights, but Congress so far has not acted on it, even though there does seem to be bipartisan support for the bill.

There are some ways to be anonymous online. But at the end of the day, if someone really wants to find you, chances are they can.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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