The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is head for my computer. It holds the secrets to my day. I read my e-mails from several accounts, check my schedule on my Outlook calendar and even find out how much money I can spend that day from my bank's Web site. I'd be lost without my computer.
However, I have one huge frustration - privacy invasion. In the last three months alone I have had the privacy of my personal computer invaded in so many ways I am starting to feel like it is public property instead of my own property.
My home page has been changed without my consent. My search engine was set for Internet Explorer and was changed to some search engine I never knew existed. Hidden programs have infiltrated my computer and set it to randomly open windows to casino ads and porn sites.
My e-mail is constantly bombarded with ads from companies that claim I have "opted" into their e-mail list. As if I would waste my time asking someone to send me e-mails that are deleted as fast as they are received. Can I have a little orange juice with that spam at 6:30 in the morning?
Since I have my own server, one of my e-mail addresses is not related to any of the big name e-mail sites like Yahoo, Hotmail or America Online. But those nasty little computer geeks have even invaded that part of my privacy by using my server to send out e-mail ads. They get tons of money from the dupes who actually buy into their money-making schemes, and I get to have my account flooded by all of the undeliverable e-mail. Isn't that just peachy?
My biggest frustration comes from the pop-up messages I receive when connected to the Internet. A friend of mine explained the technical aspects of this phenomenon to me, but I don't care about how it happens. All I care about is that it does happen. I get pop-ups about all kinds of stuff. I have received several pop-ups inviting me to learn how to enlarge my penis. Last time I checked, I didn't even have a penis.
I even get pop-ups telling me how to not get pop-ups. Now that is frustration to the nth degree. If I could, I'd reach through the lines that connect me to those privacy thieves and pour my orange juice all over their geeky little heads. But alas, I have no such super powers.
Is it really necessary to feel victimized in your own home at your own computer? Luckily I know someone who helped restore my computer to its original state, but that doesn't stop the spamming or the pop-ups and it doesn't protect me from future invasion.
Each state has its own anti-spam laws to protect people from this type of privacy invasion. Illinois passed its first law in 1999. In California, outgoing Gov. Gray Davis recently signed a bill that made a tough stand on spamming with fines from $1,000 per e-mail and up to $1 million per mass-mailing incident. However, the truth of the matter is it is very hard to catch and prosecute these privacy thieves.
How about a do-not-call list for computers? As a matter of fact, the U.S. Senate passed legislation last week that would increase penalties for spammers on a national level and would start a do-not-spam list. Anyone have a pen handy?
Although spamming is only one of the many invasions of privacy on my computer and although this new legislation has been too long in coming, I have to admit I'm quite relieved to see help is on the way. Until then, I will try to go about my daily routine without allowing those privacy thieves to get me too frustrated.
However, I do not intend to share my OJ or my toast with them - unless they like OJ as shampoo.
About the Author: Stella Ramsaroop is a western world traveler, a life-long student, a wanna-be stargazer, and an Aquarius in all its forms (if you know what that means). Her articles emphasize the importance of the continued development and protection of gender equality in all aspects of a woman's life.
Visit Stella's Website at http://www.newsparade.com to read her current articles and to contribute your thoughts.