Privacy vs. Convenience: A Twenty Year Retrospective of the Internet Privacy Project

This year's Information Assurance Forum at the University of Findlay will tackle the topic of Privacy vs. Convenience on October 31, 2018. Interhack will be there to present a retrospective on its Internet Privacy Project.

As web technology gained widespread adoption, a small group of researchers began to look at the practical, rather than theoretical question, of how to protect the privacy of people using this technology. Looking at systems that were deployed “in the wild” by legitimate organizations using competent developers, the researchers found that design decisions had implications that surprised both the people using the systems and those who created them.

The result was a series of papers that looked at everything from the impact of the “What's Related?” button on a web browser to web site traffic analytics, showing privacy and security failures, as well as articulating lessons to be learned to prevent creating an Orwellian infrastructure.

In this retrospective the primary investigator and author of the book documenting that work, Developing Trust: Online Privacy and Security (Apress, 2001), discusses some of the most common and critical findings, and looks at current technology to see what lessons have been learned, what has been ignored, and which of the predictions have come true. We'll conclude with a discussion of the stakes and further guidance for organizations and individuals concerned with protection of their own personal safety, national security, and liberty in society.

About Interhack

Founded as a research group in 1997, Interhack from its beginning has studied and led efforts to address privacy and security online. That work led to the organization of Interhack Corporation in 2000, and the nationwide practice of providing expert analysis in the design, implementation, and operation of systems. Today's practices include cybersecurity, forensic analysis of electronic evidence, and digital investigations. The firm can be found online at