Mark Zuckerberg supposedly once claimed: “Privacy is dead, get over it.” (The quote is actually from Scott McNealy in 1999, while CEO of Sun Microsystems). Is this really so, though, or is your information in your own hands?
Certainly, there are numerous companies whose sole business is collecting data on individuals for marketing purposes: your religion, your income level, your political opinions, and your preferences in breakfast cereal and TV shows. How this will impact society in the long run remains to be seen, but at the moment it doesn’t seem much more malignant than the kind of research advertisers have been doing for decades.
Most people have made peace with the fact that it’s difficult to prevent large corporations from having confidential information about them. These companies may not be trustworthy, but since it’s a fait accompli, we’ll roll with it. The more important part of privacy, for most people, is to control specific personal information in order to prevent fraud or embarrassment. This is basically the physical equivalent of installing antivirus software.
It might, for instance, be necessary to show a potential employer that you have a passport, but there’s no reason to share your passport number with them. You might need to prove that a bank account is in your name, but this doesn’t mean that the other party has to know your balance or your transaction history.
In situations like this, you really need a redactor stamp to hide what you consider confidential while leaving the rest of a document intact. Simply swipe it over addresses, social security numbers, or whatever needs to be obscured, and the unique, visually confusing pattern conceals the text.
Is it 100% effective? No, few things are. How well it obscures text depends on things like the font size, the ink used, and what kind of paper it’s printed on. In general, if someone really wants to read what you’ve blacked out, they’ll be able to, even if they have to use special solvents or optical gear. It’s faster than shredding, but less secure and less environmentally friendly: though this pack of three stamps should last you for months, even in an office environment, they’re not refillable and are thrown away once dry.
What we do like about this particular privacy stamp is that its head covers a strip of about ½” in width, which is wide enough to obscure quite a large area with a few swipes but also allows you to selectively censor text within a paragraph. The combination of its special ink and print pattern also makes it superior to many similar products, especially when using it on glossy surfaces.