With new stories about breaches of online privacy surfacing nearly every day, it's enough to drive a person to shell out serious cash for protection. Such is the case with Julia Angwin, who recounts in the New York Times how she spent $2,220 last year on various tools such as data encryption to try to keep her personal information from being disseminated online. "In our data-saturated economy," observes Angwin, "privacy is becoming a luxury good."
All of which raises some troubling questions, she adds. Isn't this unfair to those who can't afford it? And for those who do choose to pay, shouldn't the government make sure these products actually work? (She has personal experience with getting ripped off on that front.) Angwin likens the situation to the early days of the organic food movement, when it was expensive and a genuine hassle for the relatively few people who wanted to partake. Might there be a lesson here? "Our government enforces baseline standards for the safety of all food and has strict production and labeling requirements for organic food," she writes. "It may be time to start doing the same for our data." Click for the full column.