Print Media Called ‘Ironclad’ Way to Browse Content without Being Tracked

Security experts are telling people to retake control of their personal privacy by reading articles in printed media rather than online. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that, print let’s you read something without leaving any trace whatsoever of what you read,” says Trevor Combs, CEO of iPrivatei, a personal privacy and security firm.

Combs says there are disadvantages to reading articles in printed media, but it’s a trade-off you should consider making if you’re worried about marketers and dark-web criminals tracking what you read online.

Good read. And private.

“When you read something in print, there’s nothing to click,” says Combs. “Some people will find that disconcerting, because they’re used to clicking things when they read. You won’t find GIFs or videos or other things that move, beep, honk, or change before your eyes.”

However, if you’re willing to dispense with those things, you can be confident no one is keeping tabs on what you’re reading or viewing, he says.

“The privacy you get from reading a book, newspaper, or magazine is very much like a SnapChat or other app that deletes what you’ve consumed once you’ve consumed it,” says Tiane Jackson, marketing director of InKogNito, an online privacy software company. “But unlike SnapChat or other messaging services like it, the anonymity is total. Since there is never an online trace of your activity, there’s simply no chance anyone can know what you read, when you read it, and so on. It’s a 100 percent, total privacy medium. Someone would have to be peering through your window to know what you’re reading.”

No tracking!

For people who like to consume pornography or other media that comes with a stigma in some quarters, the privacy offered by print media is attractive.

“I always have a tinge of concern when I click on a porn video because I know at some level I’m leaving a digital trail,” says Ben Stafford, a retired accountant in Philadelphia who picked up the porn habit about a year ago. “After I retired I had a lot of time on my hands, so I ended up putting something in them, and that was my, you know, my whatchamacallit. Somewhere, someone’s got a record of thousands of links I’ve clicked. I could probably never run for office.”

Heather Meyers (not her real name) stumbled on lesbian porn earlier this week and it’s been haunting her ever since. “I just accidentally landed on this site and I know my IP address is being processed in some data algorithm somewhere,” she says. “That never could have happened with print. Not that I would ever have that type of media in my possession, but if I did, no one would know it—except for the store clerk or whatever. But that person would probably never see me again. I would just be an anonymous face that he or she would quickly forget.”

Stephen Anderson, a print media advocate in Washington, D.C., says the rise in data breaches and the Cambridge Analytic data-abuse scandal are triggering a back-to-print movement among the young.

“People who have grown up barely knowing print are suddenly discovering it and seeing it as an incredible medium from a privacy standpoint, Anderson says. “To them, print is a fresh and new way to consume content without having to worry about what kind of ads or recommended content you’re going to get because of the links you clicked when you were drunk. Now when you’ve had too much to drink, you can consume whatever print media you want. And unless the wind blows over your trash, no one will know what kind of crap you read. This is like finding the ultimate technology: off the grid and completely untraceable.”

This is a work of satire. It is a fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos: pd and cc. Creative Commons and public domain. Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.

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God®

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