Beware of strangers bearing gifts

Free Internet services can seem a boon, but they can also be collecting and manipulating information without your consent or knowledge

I remember, as a child, my mother warned me that if a stranger offered to give me anything for free, to say no and run away as fast as possible from him or her.

As I have grown older, it appears I have not followed her advice. I have freely let a stranger read my e-mails, look at my photos, know my whereabouts and answer my deepest, darkest questions. That stranger knows more about me than my mother or wife will ever hope to know.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2020, with the headline 'Beware of strangers bearing gifts'. Print Edition | Subscribe