Posts with tag "privacy"

The increasing, and important, need for dual identities on the web – real and anonymous

image courtesy of The Next Web

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.

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While everyone else might like Facebook’s changes Canada isn’t happy

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.

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The Social Web and Privacy. What a dumbass fight.

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.

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Our screwed up concept of privacy

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.

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