by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 10 December 2006)
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, I check my schedule for the day on my Outlook calendar and I read Kaieteur News’ online version for the news of the day. I would be lost without my computer.
However, I have one huge frustration - privacy invasion. In the last few years, I have had the privacy of my personal computer invaded in so many ways that I am starting to feel like it is public property instead of my own property.
In the past, 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, and 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.
I received over 500 junk emails to one email account yesterday alone. Can I have a little orange juice with that spam at 6:30 in the morning?
One of my e-mail addresses is on a privately owned server that is not related to any of the big name e-mail sites like Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail. But those nasty little computer geeks have even invaded that part of my privacy by using this server to send out e-mail ads.
They get tons of money from the dupes who actually buy into their moneymaking 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 do not 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 did not 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 would reach through the lines that connect me to those privacy bandits 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 victimised in your own home at your own computer while eating breakfast? Luckily, Paul knows quite a bit about computers and helped to restore my computer to its original state, but that does not stop the spamming or the pop-ups and it does not protect me from future invasion.
The truth of the matter is it is very hard to catch and prosecute these privacy thieves. The Internet crosses international boundaries, which makes these home invaders quite elusive and difficult to prosecute.
This frustrating situation wears on my patience daily, but I suppose I just have to hope that one day soon my personal computer will be safe from invasion. Until then, I will eat my breakfast and continue on with life.
However, I do not intend to share my OJ or my toast with them - unless they like OJ as shampoo.
(an email account that currently has 275 emails in the junk folder)