Letters to the Editor

Shipp might not be far off on this one

My American Heritage dictionary describes fascism as "a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with a belligerent nationalism."

If Bill Shipp is linking fascism and our new Republican state Legislature, he's probably correct to at least consider the correlation. We can only protect ourselves from tyranny by looking at any changes in government critically and honestly, with an eye to both our past and future. When a pattern emerges, we are to blame if we do not recognize it and take action.

We have the ability of hindsight to discuss the risks of a rightest government. Think carefully before casting stones at Shipp and attempting to close that discussion.

- Denise Dutton


Education only way to protect ourselves

The news that ChoicePoint had information stolen from its databases has put identity theft on the front pages of America's newspapers. Thousands have had their personal information compromised.

These events should encourage all consumers to think about identity theft and make sure they are taking steps to protect themselves. There are several things you can do to protect yourself, both online and offline.

For low-tech options, make sure you protect your Social Security number and don't give it to venues you don' t trust. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to buy a shredder and destroy anything with personal and account information on it. We must deny these criminals access to the information they need to steal our identities and wreak havoc on our lives.

In the technology world, you also need to keep your personal information safe when surfing the web and shopping online.

It's important to install and update anti-virus software, delete unknown e-mails, install and activate firewalls and change your passwords frequently. Fortunately, the technology industry continues to offer tools to help consumers enhance their security. The recent release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 and AOL's 9.0 Security Edition offers computer users the latest in security solutions for combating viruses and spyware.

By educating ourselves, using the latest in security solutions and taking some basic precautions, consumers can do a tremendous amount to decrease their risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

- Jim Prendergast

Executive Director, Americans for Technology Leadership, Washington, D.C.