EU to review internet privacy rules

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NY Times reports today that EU will review internet privacy rules.  Not surprising given the various stories about Google inadvertently gathering private data and facebook partners leaking user data.

‘…Viviane Reding, the justice commissioner, announced its intention to overhaul the European Union’s data protection rules to take account of the development of social networking, personalized advertising and other Web services that have raised privacy concerns. The new legislation, set to be introduced next year, would replace rules that date to 1995…’

On a separate note for any of you concerned re Streetview images uploaded by Google see this link from the Data Protection Commissioner’s Site (Ireland)

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Facebook, location and deals – is it worth foregoing privacy?

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I have tried google latitude in the past – did not like it.  Did not seem to have enough fellow relevant participants to make it worth mu while saying where I was.  Recently been experimenting with FourSquare.  And now that I have my new android, checkin has never been easier.  However – again not sure what I want to tell the world that I’ve checked in at the local football ground on Saturday morning.

Seems facebook now onto the idea that there must be benefit to the user who shares his/her location.  And one idea is to offer deals which are relevant to your particular location.   So I guess if I were in town and you offered me a taxi fare at 60% discount from that location within the next hour I may be interested.  The quality of the deals would drive my willingness to reveal my location.  and it’ back to the old maxim: no personalisation without transparency.

Levi Sumagaysay’s piece in Silicon in Good Morning Silicon Valley captures most of this very well.

The privacy debate (or the privacy sale) continues.

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What was Google thinking?

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UK’s Information Commissioner has changed his mind – there was a significant breach by Google. This piece on the BBC website summarises the change of mind.

This is the but that’s hard to believe: ‘Google discovered that, along with legitimate data about the location of wi-fi hotspots, the cars were also hoovering up personal details from unsecured networks, known as payload data’. What were they thinking?

Bad enough that Google has been photographing everyone’s property –  and a post photograph opt out seems a very limited protection for those who object to the intrusion of privacy.  But ‘hoovering up personal details from unsecured networks’ does not seem like a smart way to win and influence friends.

I think Google has been a pioneer and has contributed in a hugely positive way to society.  But they need less gaff’s on the privacy front.

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Learning from the young – to make social networking work

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Great piece from Tom Peters highlighting the strengths of Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew.  Peters  picks out so many things that appeal to him in Drexler’s approach – clearly a man who walks the walk and talks the talk.  But what I am drawn to in particular is his respect for younger or more junior people in the organisation:

  • Listens attentively regardless of age/seniority
  • Obvious in his transparent respect for young employees

As we begin to embrace social networking and the associated collaborative approach a key step for enterprise management  is to embrace the new generation – sometimes referred to as the F generation (in reference to facebook).  These are the people who know and understand these solutions.  Bring them on board  – put them at the centre of the required change.  Have them mentor senior, more experienced managers – mentoring is a tow way process.

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Pay to see full names for 3rd degree connections on Linkedin

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So the pricing model has changed at Linkedin.  You may have noticed in searching that you are coming across people whose full name is hidden.  That’s the deal now – if you want to see these names you pay for the privilege.

Not that surprising really that a private network should look to make money from its database.  Must feel now that they have sufficient footprint (heading for 100m members) to up the anti.  Potentially why would they not go the whole hog and charge everyone?

All of this brings us back to the discussion around open standards, open networks, FOAF, semantics, etc.  And indeed David Siegel’s ‘The Power of Pull’ and his idea about the ‘persoanal information locker’.

Interesting to see how this plays out.  Will Linkedin changes results in slower growth in the network – but greater revenues to the company?  Or will this create the opportunity for another player to up their gorwth rate in the marketplace?

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Paperless billing

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This seems to have become a hot topic in Ireland – prompted by the move to electronic billing by mobile phone companies.  We have a number of objectors: the regulator because people had a right to a paper bill, some consumers who want a paper bill and, it seems, An Post who stand to lose out on lots of revenue.  Finally there is the debate about the sharing of the benefits – will all the benefits be retained by the corporations or will they be shared (in part or in whole) with the customers?

Useful catch up on the subject in yesterday’s Irish Times.

Surely this is a ‘non-brainer’ at a basic level?  We must use technology to make things more efficient.  But as in all such projects we must manage the change.   There are benefits in this for the corporations (in terms of cost savings) and there are benefits for customers who are open to receiving electronic bills (or accessing their account information on a portal).  Without doubt there are a group of people who will struggle to deal with an electronic document e.g. those with no internet access or familiarity.  This is a group which is diminishing in relative size – but nonetheless must be accommodated – and it would seem to me should not be disadvantaged over their current position.  This should be the core focus of the change agenda.

Online travel booking seems to have gained widespread acceptance – and it has resulted in major changes for those who previously facilitated the booking process.  Mr O’Leary of Ryanair pushed through the agenda but the Aer Lingus experience is the same.  And we have seen losts of benefits in online travel e.g. the various sites offering best deals across a range of providers – be it flights, cars, hotels, insurance, etc.

Over the last number of months I have availed of the new service from Irish start-up  GetItKeepIt which enables me to receive and a range of electronic bills from various suppliers.  For me this application addresses the specific point made by CAI Chairman James Doorley ‘people were “more likely to check their bills if they get them in the post”’.  I am now more inclined to review bills when gathered in one portal.

Ultimately we will complete a period of transformation – and the electronic bill will be the only option.  And this will be the de facto situation across the board.  And this will be a good thing.  We do not want to continue to have people doing things which have no value add – cutting down trees to create unnecessary paper, printing bills and putting them in envelopes, criss-crossing the country to deliver paper bills which can be sent electronically (or, more correctly, accessed electronically).  As for the benefits – they will be absorbed into the operating budgets of the service providers.

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Where now for newspapers?

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Mr Murdoch has succeeded in getting me to buy his newspaper on a number of occasions since he made it unavailable online.  The downside is that this is really causing me to compare the quality and relevance of his Sunday newspaper with the vast amount of data available to me online.  And I do not enjoy having to deal with the piles of paper.

On the other hand the Irish Times provides an excellent online service – which inclines me to cross reference articles from the newspaper in my various blogging/ tweeting activities.

On Sundays I now find myself checking out the Independent online early in the day – potentially overlooking The Business Post and the Sunday Times.

One other key development – I am now an avid user of a smartphone – seems easier than ever to keep up to date e.g. using various news services which are constantly being updated.

Was interested in this piece by Ross Dawson.  I think he may be right -give or take a couple of years.  When you combine all of this with a youth growing up using social networks and smart phones – not looking great on the newspaper front.  And that’s not something that pleases me – as someone who has enjoyed reading newspapers for over 30 years.

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Company laptops being stolen

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Nice piece by Lucy Kellaway (Financial Times) syndicated by the Irish Times – on the subject of company laptops being stolen.  Perhaps she is being a little provocative – but much of Lucy’s angle on security of the company laptop is ‘on the money’.

You want to promote an understanding with company employees of the risks associated with downloading confidential data (including any details of how to access confidential systems) to laptops and/or other devices.  It is one of may risks.  I would tend to agree with Ms. Kellaway – the security cable around the leg of the piano is not much of a deterrent.

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