Posted 934 days ago
image courtesy of The Next Web
The whole anonymous identities on the web argument is older than the web itself. I can remember fervent discussions on the subject back in the old BBS days and the talking points haven’t changed in the intervening years. The only problem now is that the wild west days of the Web are over and companies like Facebook and Google are making themselves the final arbiters of what an identity is on the web; and that is scary.
However that isn’t the argument that I want to look at here, at least not as a major point. What I do want to point out is that now more than ever we need to fight for the right to have more than just the Facebook and Google sanctioned identity when we do anything on the web, and possibly when we aren’t hooked into it directly.
Posted 1382 days ago
Everyone else in the world might be pleased as punch over some sort of perceived victory as Facebook announced changes to its privacy controls available to users but it seems that Canada’s Privacy Commissioner isn’t so happy.
This isn’t the first time that Facebook has come up against Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner as back during last years investigation into Facebook’s privacy faux pas the companywas forced into making some ground breaking changes. Under the terms of the settlement Facebook agreed to comply with Canada’s privacy laws thereby by giving Canadians full control over how their data was to be shared.
Facebook did indeed fine tune the privacy settings in response to the probe and the regulator gave Facebook until August to introduce other protections. However within hours of Zuckerberg’s announcement today of coming changes Ms Elizabeth Denham, the Assistant Privacy Commissioner, said that while Facebook may have dialed it back the Privacy Commissioner didn’t feel that it was enough … “we don’t think users are comfortable.”
She said Facebook’s new settings continue to require users to publicly reveal their names, profile information, pictures, gender and networks to the broader Internet. Under Canadian law companies are bound to give consumers full control over how their personal data is used.
Another issue is Facebook’s recent move to allow outside software developers to cull users personal data and track their Internet movements. Facebook had committed last year to give members the ability to block such Internet trespassing by August.
“We are still waiting for Facebook to honour all of its commitments. I am disappointed in the direction they have taken,” Ms. Denham said.
Source: Globe and Mail
Somehow I don’t think this confrontation with our Privacy Commissioner is over yet – not by a long shot.
Posted 1394 days ago
Boy do we have some pretty strange concepts of what privacy is when it comes to the Web, or rather we seem to be misunderstanding exactly what privacy is.
No this is not a post in defense of Facebook and their anal attitude about controlling the flow of information. Nor is it a post extolling the virtues of new projects like Diaspora or other Facebook replacements (in their dreams maybe) who are selling themselves by tauting their belief in your right to privacy.
This post isn’t about either of those things because we’re talking about the wrong thing. This so-called uproar over what Facebook has been doing with its Open Graph and social plugins has nothing to do with privacy. It is all a case of verbal and ideological misdirection.
Look, privacy is a nice ideology and plays well in the headlines and courtrooms but when it comes to the Web and especially the Social Web using the word privacy is a misnomer. Privacy, or rather private are those things in our lives whether they be thoughts or conversations that exists within a certain set of parameters.
What happens in our bedrooms is considered to be private. What happens within the four walls of our homes is considered private. Conversations with our doctors, our lawyers is considered to be private. What is said in a confessional is considered to be private between you, the priest and God.
Posted 1403 days ago
If there is one really hot button topic when it comes to the Web it has to be the whole idea of privacy. From Scott McNealy to Eric Schmidt of Google to the newest statement about privacy from Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook we are being told that our abnormal concern about privacy is outmoded and stupid.
In the case of both Schmidt and Zuckerberg there is no denying that they both have ulterior reasons for wanting to get us all to be as open on the Web as possible. After all their businesses rely exclusively on us being willing to share anything and everything about ourselves on the Web.
It is equally unsurprising that there is a whole bunch of people who don’t agree with them, nor do they approve with the methods that companies like Google and Facebook will go to in order to get us to reconsider what our boundaries of privacy are. In fact some are vehemently opposed to the constant pushing of the privacy envelope that these companies will go to.
The only problem is that none of this arguing has anything to do with what real privacy is. In fact all this does is show us just how screwed up our concept of privacy is. Don’t get me wrong I am extremely bothered with the way that these companies do end up collecting and sharing the information that we give them but none of this has to do with what privacy is.
Posted 1420 days ago
I just saw this come through from the team over at The Next Web. It appears that Facebook might have figured out it’s next avenue to increase their advertising revenue.
Your web history.
Alex Wilhelm puts it this way:
Facebook wants to improve their advertising targeting, but needs more information to do so. Where will this new information come from? Your web history.
This week, at Facebook’s F8 developer event, Facebook is expected to roll out a new advertising system and series of social buttons. These buttons will mimic Twitter and Digg buttons that are ubiquitous online.
Users can click the Facebook button while off-Facebook, signaling the giant with new information about their preferences that will then be fed into algorithms for advanced, and dead-on, advert targeting. More and better information will allow Facebook to boost its CPM and CPC rates significantly.
Regardless of whether Alex thinks that this could be done well I’m more inclined to go with his point that this could land Facebook in court if not done right
From what we understand, Facebook will note when a user makes an action on a third-party website, and use that information. That makes the collection of data very active, not passive. If instead Facebook sets up the buttons to note any logged in Facebook user, and save that data hit without alerting them, we are going to see class-action lawsuits.
If history is any indicator I wouldn’t trust Facebook further than I can spit in a headwind and wouldn’t be surprised if they go with the second option and risk the lawsuits.
Well Facebook I have just gotten one step closer to deleting my account.
Posted 1430 days ago
I don’t normally cross-post stuff here that I write at any of my other haunts except in cases of something I feel really strongly about, which in this case I do. If there is one thing happening right now that you really need to understand the implications of it is ACTA.
In light if the FCC loss to Comcast in the courts Fred Wilson wrote an interesting post
where he uses the phrase Internet Freedom and how it is an important concept for his company Union Square Ventures and how it impacts their investment thinking.
Our firm, Union Square Ventures, focuses most of our time on finding companies, investing in them, and working with the entrepreneurs to build them. But a few years ago, we made the decision to invest a small amount of our time on public policy issues, like net neutrality, patent reform, spectrum reform, immigration reform, and a handful of other ones. All of this and more is about Internet Freedom. Our business requires it. If we lose Internet Freedom, we won’t have any companies we would want to invest in and we’ll close up shop and move on with our lives. That would be our loss.
Noble words indeed.
Idealism versus citizens under siege
During this conversation around the FCC loss there was another big Internet Freedom action going on in Britain. I am of course referring to the Digital Economy Bill which was passed in their House of Parliament much to the horror of anyone involved with Internet policy and freedom. It wasn’t so much that it past but the fact that it was done so with next to no debate because of tactic used by the Labour Government to sneak it by in the quiet days leading up to their upcoming election.
Simon Mackie at GigaOm writes:
Shortly before midnight last night, the UK’s Labour Government finally managed to push through its Digital Economy Bill. It’s a controversial and wide-ranging piece of legislation that is aimed at tackling copyright infringement and, among other things, will force ISPs to cut off persistent file-sharers. Because the bill was forced through during the “washup” period before parliament is dissolved in advance of May’s General Election, there has been concern that the bill hasn’t been debated thoroughly, and not enough attention has been paid to its implications for digital freedoms — for example, the Bill could have the unintended consequence of forcing places like libraries and cafes to stop offering free Wi-Fi. It could also give the government the power to block sites like Wikileaks, just because it hosts copyright-infringing material.
On one hand we have the idealistic thoughts of Fred Wilson and on the other we have the total capitulation of a government to paranoia and draconian methods of trying to control one’s population.
Read the rest of the post over at The Inquisitr
Posted 1442 days ago
Ah Facebook, you sure like to jerk around the tech pundits in the blogosphere don’t you. Take for example that last privacy flap where you turned everything on by default and then left it up to users to opt-out.
The thing is you knew that the large majority of your users wouldn’t, or couldn’t be bothered about the whole silly privacy thing. All they want to do is get logged in as quickly as possible to see how their FarmVille; or some other such stupid social game, was doing.
But when the digerati called you up on the carpet over the change you quickly flashed the fact that 35% of the people that had logged in had made changes. What exact changes we’re not sure .. maybe they just left everything the same and clicked on the Next button as quickly as they could because they could hear that cow calling them from FarmVille.
Wow 35% though .. that sounds pretty good eh. Yup it sure does, until you turn that into real numbers and then compare it to their stated user number of 500 million. In this case 35% works out to 175 million give or take a couple of million. That leaves 325 million users who didn’t make any changes to their new auto opt-in privacy settings.
So over half of the Facebook members couldn’t careless how; or with whom, their information is being shared. Not a bad number of people to make money off of don’t you think; and all at the cost of having to put up with a few irritated bloggers who Facebook doesn’t really need hanging around anyway as they are always gumming up the works with their big mouths.
Posted 1474 days ago
Once we managed to get Sean dug out from his disastrous 13″ snowfall yesterday and get him all thawed out we tried desperately to find something of interest to talk about tonight. Unfortunately it seems that the tech world decided to call in a boring day which left us having to do the old fall back to starting off the show talking about sex.
Don’t worry it wasn’t ours we talked about but rather the fact the good old Eric Schmidt from Google didn’t like the idea that a girlfriend of his decided to include him via his nickname Dr. Strangelove in her blog about her road to recovery from drug addiction. Both Sean and I found this rather hilarious, not to mention hypocritical, of him considering how badly Google wants us all to bare our souls on Buzz.
The one upside to this was that I got to school my esteemed partner on a little bit of Internet lore when it comes to the Streisand Effect.
From that point we talked about whether or not the idea of running a web server that originates out of Russia is such a good idea even if it is open source and free to use. It surprised us both though that in a short 2 to 3 years Nginx (pronounced ‘engine X’) has accumulated a 7% share of the web server business and includes WordPress.com as one of its users.
Posts referred to in the show.
Google’s CEO Demanded His Mistress Take Down Her Blog: Source – valleywag
So this is the state of the blogosphere eh – The Inqusitr
Nginx, the little Russian web server taking on the giants – Royal Pjingdom
Enjoy the show
EP11: Dr. Stangelove’s view of privacy is different than ours