Friday, January 22, 2010

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Which ox are you goring?

ProjectVRM's Joe Andrieu has a long, but not necessarily rambling, post today buttressing his (and the project's) stand on data sharing.

He makes some great points, such as that many people confuse privacy with secrecy. And that transactional data is owned by all parties to the transaction separately and mutually. He totally misses some points, such as confounding Digital Rights Management with meat space copyrights.

But where he really got me was right near the very end of his screed where he says:

"Because the fact is, we want to share information. We want Google to know what we are searching for. We want Orbitz to know where we want to fly. We want Cars.com to know the kind of car we are looking for.
We just donít want that information to be abused. We donít want to be spammed, telemarketed, and adverblasted to death."

But the reality is that we will be "spammed," telemarketed and adverblasted whether or not the party doing the marketing knows what we want or not. Advertising should be about letting me know the possibilities that might interest me. And the only way that can happen is if the advertiser knows my likes and dislikes, wants and needs. Isn't that the premise of VRM, that we (the users) tell the vendors what we want and they then compete to fill our need? How can they do that without telling us of their offers, and isn't that advertising? Targeted advertising, targeted directly at the person(s) who are looking to buy.

Rework the post, Joe. There are too many good points to be spoiled by such a bad ending.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

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Getting Privacy Right

The Burton Group's Bob Blakley writes ("Gartner Gets Privacy Dead Wrong") a seminal piece on privacy - what it is, what it isn't and how to protect it. In the course of his blog entry he manages to pretty much dismiss most of the work that's been done under the rubric of "privacy" (which, as he notes, is really about secrecy) over the past dozen years.

As he writes: "That's how privacy works; it's not about secrecy, and it's not about control: it's about sociability. Privacy is a social good which we give to one another, not a social order in which we control one another."

It's an issue I've brought up a number of times in the past. Last year, for example, I discussed where many "...have gone wrong is to equate privacy with anonymity. You donít have to be anonymous to maintain the privacy of your data. Again going back 100 years when you went into the bar and everybody knew your name there was also much about you that wasnít known. Most things about you, in fact, werenít known. Those things we want to keep private - our medical data, financial data, legal situation, etc. - were kept private. But people did know who you were, and perhaps where you lived, or worked, who your family was - and no one thought that was strange."

Secrecy and anonymity are not privacy, and the quicker we all understand that the quicker we can move to protect privacy.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

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Facebook can't tell a friend from a hole in the ground

Burton Group's Ian Glazer has done some follow-up on his "Privacy Mirror" Facebook application with more shocking results. Evidently, if you and one of your friends both add the same application then the application treats your personal data as if it were also a friend - ignoring your "application privacy" settings. And it does this without informing you in any way.

Not good. Not good at all.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

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Mirror, mirror on my screen tell me what PII is seen...

The Burton Group's Ian Glazer just created "Privacy Mirror", a "...Facebook application to see what #FB tells 3rd party developers ." If you're on Facebook you might want to check this out. Do you really want to "share" all that info (and all your friends' info) with some nameless, faceless app developer?

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

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Snoopy Sears

World +dog seems to be cock-a-hoop over the new authentication that Sears has enabled, claiming OpenID is now accepted. Well, it is, but you'll only see it if you know it's there and go looking for it. First you'll be presented with a NASCAR box showing badges for Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Twitter, AOL and MySpace. Clicking on the [more] link gets you a choice of OpenID or Windows Live. But it isn't just authentication that Sears wants.

Click on the Facebook link, for example, and you see "Allowing Signin.mysears.com access will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work."

Click on the Twitter link and get: "The application Signin.mysears.com by Sears would like the ability to access and update your data on Twitter."

Do I really want Sears to know who my friends are (and how to contact them)? Do I really want Sears to be able to update my Twitter data (whatever that is)?

Decidely and emphatically, NO!

Some may think this is a step forward for OpenID, but it's not. It's a step back for privacy.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

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Targeting targeted advertising

There's a strong movement afoot to set targeted advertising as the antithesis to privacy. See, for example, this sententious blathering from that normally reliable publication, The Register.

Advertising is what's paying for the internet. There are two types of advertising, targeted and non-targeted. Non-targeted ads means I have to wade through ads for feminine hygiene, pet flea collars, securities traders, mortgage lenders and dozens of others that I not only have no interest in, but will never have an interest in because I'm the wrong gender or don't have the item (pet, need to trade stock, re-financing quandary, etc.) that they are aiming for.

On the other hand, I am interested in travel, slow food, blues music, comfortable clothing, and other topics whose ads I'll gladly read and often click on. Occasionally I'll even make the purchase. I don't feel they intrude on my time (certainly not as much as PR types who call me early in the AM) nor do I feel that my "privacy" has been violated.

The article I pointed to above includes the usual diatribe about Google and Gmail: "Gmail scans your personal communication for keywords - there is no opt-out, and using a secure tunnel is no protection." But of course there's an opt-out: DON'T USE GMAIL! (and, I must ask, protection from what?) Use some other "free" service, or pay for one. Google has no obligation to provide you with free email, photoposting (Picassa), newspapers (Google News), telephone accessories (Google Voice) or any of the other ad-supported services from the Mountain View search giant.

I like my Gmail. If you don't, that's fine. Just leave me alone to enjoy it and I'll leave you alone to enjoy whichever mail service you choose.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

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Half empty?

Although the city of Bozeman, MT has now dropped it's requirement that job seekers, to be considered for a job, must provide login information and passwords for social network sites in which they participate, the story notes: "...the passwords already given by previous applicants will remain the confidential property of the City. "

Why?

They admit that it was poor policy to collect them. The ethical thing to do would be to immediately discard them - safely. Until you do that, Bozeman, you're still going to be at the top of the anti-privacy list.

Just one more reason to drop the use of passwords in favor of a biometric authentication. Even Bozeman, I'd hope, wouldn't ask you to leave your finger on file!

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