[NYTimes] Web Privacy, and How Consumers Let Down Their Guard

Say you’ve come across a discount online retailer promising a steal on hand-stitched espadrilles for spring. You start setting up an account by offering your e-mail address — but before you can finish, there’s a ping on your phone. A text message. You read it and respond, then return to the Web site, enter your birth date, click “F” for female, agree to the company’s terms of service and carry on browsing.
But wait: What did you just agree to? Did you mean to reveal information as vital as your date of birth and e-mail address? [...]

Most of us face such decisions daily. We are hurried and distracted and don’t pay close attention to what we are doing. Often, we turn over our data in exchange for a deal we can’t refuse. [...]

The technologist in me loves the amazing things the Internet is allowing us to do,” [Alessandro Acquisti] said. “The individual who cares about freedom is concerned about the technology being hijacked, from a technology of freedom into a technology of surveillance.” [...]