The Internet has brought mixed blessings to the people who use it. It is a fantastic information source but the relative lack of privacy has brought forth a major problem. Anyone with even little hacking knowledge can track every move that you make while using internet services and/or view private or confidential information. It is now possible for some Internet sites can actually find information such as e-mail addresses or the name of the person/people viewing the site without authorization. This problem can affect everyone who uses any Internet services and ultimately can lead to very confidential information (such as credit card numbers) getting into the hands of criminals.

Internet services and facilities are now used and provided by many companies and individuals worldwide. Each web site that is visited could have the capability of finding out your name and/or e-mail address and sending junk e-mail or cataloguing this information and then selling it to other companies. The ISP that you connect to the Internet also has a record of every bit of information you upload or download, and must keep records for official purposes. Any sites that ask for your credit card number for "pay by use" or restricted services could, in fact, sell or use such information for illegal purposes such as fraud.

The actual hardware requirements for using the internet are minimal, only an internet service provider (a company that allows a connection to the internet), modem (to send and receive data transmissions through a phone line), phone line (to dial up the I.S.P,) and a reasonably fast computer (to run the hardware and software) are needed to get onto the internet. This allows almost anyone with a computer to access the Internet. Software is needed to browse or view the internet is a browser (such as Netscape Navigator, MS Internet Explorer) and for e-mail services, programs such as Eudora, Netscape Navigator or MS Internet Explorer are needed to send or receive e-mail.

Nearly everyone will at some stage in his or her lives use the Internet. Very minimal skills are needed to use the Internet, and it allows people to access an immense amount of information at the touch of a button. All a person with a little hacking knowledge needs to do to get such information is to use a Trojan horse type program and he or she can follow you around and view the information you are uploading or downloading.

The fact that there is minimal Internet privacy has led to people becoming weary of what they actually do on the Internet. The people that actually provide the Internet services to uses, ISP's, keep records for up to two months on all user data transactions. This means that someone could possibly get confidential information such as a credit card number and sell the information or use it himself or herself for purchasing goods or services. This has raised some concern and there have been propositions made in many governments worldwide to ensure that acts such as these are prevented from happening, but anyone who has access to the actual server could find such information. This practice, however, could never be totally eradicated, as there are already statutes in place that demand these records to be kept.

Another factor in this privacy issue is the "cookies" sent to you when viewing certain web sites. A cookie is a piece of information that is sent to you by a web site and in return, it takes a piece of information from the user. People can actually stop "cookies" from being received but it prevents vital information from being sent to them. Some times, all the cookie does is record, on the users computer, without consent, information such as the number of times that the site has been accessed by the user. More sophisticated versions can access information from the user such as e-mail addresses or the real name of the user. Such information should not be allowed access without consent and such practices should be stopped. Finally, something is being done about the practice of sending "cookies" to receive personal information such as the real name and e-mail addresses being sold to companies for the use of sending junk mail. In a recent law case in America,