Online Privacy is Like Portfolio Diversification

Lynne Kiesling

You know the down-home advice on investing — don’t put all of your eggs in one basket? That advice also holds for maintaining your online privacy in the face of Google’s impending “service integration” to use all of the information you provide in all of their services. This Wired article on how to hide from Google is the best I’ve seen thus far, and the advice is pretty straightforward — don’t put all of your activity in the Google basket. Use different search engines, use different browsers, spread it around.

For example, I’m now using Chrome to manage my Gmail accounts, calendar, and Google+ account. I have signed out of all Google accounts in Firefox and Safari, and I do all of my searching and other activities in one or the other of those browsers, depending on the application.

Sure, I’m giving up the ability to +1 articles, but that’s a small price to pay … and as we learn from portfolio theory, diversification comes at a cost but provides a net benefit.