Is More Privacy a Good Idea? (Letter to the Editor)

Is More Privacy a Good Idea? (Letter to the Editor)

April 10, 1999
Originally published in The New York Times

To the Editor:

Amitai Etzioni ("Privacy. Isn't Dead Yet," Op-Ed, April 6) vastly understates the availability of technologies that provide "cyberspace anonymity."

His worries about "cookies," the programs that reside in Web browsers, have less foundation than he admits. Modern browsers allow users to reject cookies, and one Web site even offers free "cookie-cutting" programs.

And the information Mr. Etzioni wants kept from prying eyes at all costs may well serve a positive purpose.

It is hard to get a loan if the loan officer's only guarantee of the information's reliability is the applicant's word of honor.

Or does Mr. Etzioni really want a society in which only the already rich — those with established and documented credit, information — can borrow money?