Book Review: Take Control of Your Online Privacy – by Joe Kissell

Take Control of your Online Privacy

Take Control of Your Online Privacy provides an introduction to the main elements of online privacy, reviewing why we need it in the first place (even if we don’t have anything to hide), what are the main threats to it, and what are the most effective strategies and tools to preserve it.

This was my first contact with the “Take control of” series of books. To my disappointment this book is obviously targeted to the not so knowledgable audience. Not that I’m a professional of privacy, but I consider myself quite knowledgable in the area. Still, I discover two or three tips in the book that will serve me well.

For the newbies, this book gives a fantastic intro about why we should care about privacy, and how to achieve it in the most common online scenarios. For the most advance reader, it serves as a great guide on how to talk and present the main privacy concepts to other people, for instance relatives and friends.

The book is pretty thorough in describing the risks of the most popular online tools, and every method presented to preserve our privacy includes a detailed summary of what information is still leaked, so the reader is well informed of their limitations.

One important, if not critical, aspect of online privacy that the author misses to mention is the lack of transparency of proprietary software, which could well be the compromised link of the privacy chain. The author suggests the use of many tools and services (such as Transporter or 1Password) for which we don’t have any guarantees that they don’t leak any of our information. Most of these have viable open source alternatives which I think the author should also present and encourage to use. Trust in software vendors is not an option after the revelations of Snowden.

Overall, a good read with certain limitations.

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