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Ergo Sum's policy regarding the collection and handling of information.

Introduction is the personal site of Matt Curtin and is operated on technical infrastructure provided by Interhack Corporation. Neither Curtin nor Interhack promise anything whatsoever about this site, your experience with it, or anything else to do with it. If you like it, you're welcome to stay and read. If you don't, you're welcome to go elsewhere.

Because privacy is important to us and the way that things work online can have some unexpected side-effects, I want to explain a little bit about some of what goes on here so you can make decisions for yourself about which features of this site you want to use.

Information Collected makes no attempt to collect information about you. Certain information (such as the Internet Protocol address of your machine at the time that you make the reqeust) will be provided by your system to ours for the purpose of satisfying a request initiated by your machine, presumably by some action by you (such as clicking a link). Other information might be provided, such as search terms; we can't let you search our site if you don't tell us what you're looking for. Still other information would be provided if you elect to create a personal account for yourself here. The HTTP State Management Protocol ("cookies") allow users who choose to identify themselves to login and to post content under their account name. I don't care if you use your verinym ("true name"), a pseudonym ("pen name"), or if you operate with cookies turned off and as anonymously as possible on the Web. I provide the options, you choose the experience you want. Recognize that there is a tradeoff between the level of personalization and customization that you get and the amount of information that you give up.

Information Distributed

Information collected for regular operation of is not given to anyone. Some kinds of information that you send to this site (such as the exact address, as defined by a Uniform Resource Identifier, or "URI") could be sent to other sites by your client software, such as in the HTTP Referer [sic] header. This information should in no way correlate with any other information about you or your activity on this site. For example, if you follow a link to, that system's logs will show that you made a request and that you did so while looking at a page on Amazon will not be able to correlate something else that you sent to our site like an email address. If, however, you've got cookies enabled on your browser and you make two different links to Amazon, your browser might make it possible for Amazon to notice that the same person with the same browser followed both of those links, but that's an issue between you and Amazon. I can't do anything about that.

Note that is an affiliate. This is just a convenient way for us to provide links to material that we're discussing and for a small referral fee to be paid back to Interhack Corporation to support the operation of the Web site. It works by having our site link to Amazon in a special way that shows Amazon that you saw the item you're viewing on It is the Web equivalent of going to a store and saying " sent me." If you don't want to tell Amazon where you heard about the book or whatever, then go to your favorite online store directly instead of following the link that we provide.

Information Use

"Secondary uses" of information -- collecting it for one purpose and then using it for other purposes as well -- is a big problem for privacy. Information that you provide is used to serve your requests. I really have no interest in collecting your email address and turning it over to someone or sending you other junk that you didn't ask for. If you make an account, you'll be asked to provide an email address. That's so if you forget your password, you'll be able to have it reset. If you send us search terms, it'll be used to look through our site catalog and to highlight the terms that you're interested in. If you send us a specific page request, we'll use it to show you the page you want to see. That's it.

For More Information

Unlike plenty of other sites on the Web, we can speak about these practices with some authority. My book, Developing Trust: Online Privacy and Security, describes these mechanisms in great detail, not just for this site, but for the Web as a whole. Understanding the material in there -- designed to be of use to both technical and non-technical users -- will help you see how the Web works and will go a long way toward helping you understand what you need to do to protect your privacy. If you don't want to buy the book, that's OK. You can get it from the library. I don't think you should buy the book unless you are thus motivated.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2005-04-12 01:59 PM
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