More privacy issues for facebook

Seems like Facebook made some more mistakes with your data.  And reading through this you are reminded again that Google has had its problems.

When you decide to trust someone with your information that’s what you do – you trust them (to take care of the data and use it only as you agreed with them).   And that includes trusting them to be competent to mind the data and to limit their interactions with other parties to parties that do not risk compromising your trust.

Some the previous issues with Facebook have related to the complexity of administering your own security within Facebook.  This seems like a very different issue.

I continue, for now, to be a facebook user.

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Do you mind google photographing your house?

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More on the privacy debate.

Germany probably leads the world in data protection. Google’s ongoing efforts to photograph all streets and buildings are not going unnoticed. In Germany all homeeowners have the right to opt out of having their home photographed and included in the google maps/site.

This article on the BBC site provides a brief summary of the current situation in Germany.

Google now being zoned in on re privacy

This privacy and security debate has a long way to run. Facebook have certainly made their own blunders. Now it seems Google has been attracting negative press – both through its offerings and the words of its CEO. The billboard is just another manifestation of people’s deep distrust of any Big Brother activity.

Privacy and healthcare

Require patient-centric approach to privacy in healthcare

Returning again to the subject of privacy – this time in the case of healthcare.

Interesting paper produced in the US by the Patient Privacy Rights group – the case for informed consent.

Paper references interesting statistics about the number of patients now demanding privacy – in fact the number of patients avoiding early medical checkups/ treatment because of concerns re privacy/ confidentiality.

The paper pushes a very valid principle – that the medial data about the patient belongs to the patient and not the hospital or clinician. Therefore it is not sufficient to think about patient privacy being addressed by software vendors.

The paper outlines it as follows: It is a mistake to design health IT in a paternalistic manner — assuming a corporation, vendor, provider or government agency knows what is best for each individual patient. Instead, we should build ‘patient-centric’ health IT systems.

The challenges posed are potentially complex – but they need to be addressed. For operators they will require changes in processes and systems. But these changes will be required to meet legal requirements and in order to establish and maintain credibility with patients.

Privacy and the social side – social privacy

In thinking about privacy alos need to think about the social privacy dimension

Back to the subject of privacy I was recently away on vacation with the family. I was asked (by my spouse) not to post anything in the first five days which would identify my location – on the basis that given the context (summer time, kids on holidays, etc) people would also most likely deduct that my spouse was abroad on vacation. I have thought previously about the security issues arising by publishing the fact that I am away on vacation – but I had not thought through the social privacy issues associated with potentially revealing someone else’s likely location by revealing my own.

Many discussions on this and related subjects at today’s conference BlogTalk 2010 in Galway, Ireland. In particular much focus on developments in facebook re location – and the likely impact in terms of location based/ centric advertising. But what about the ‘social privacy’ issues?

Internet privacy

Challenges of privacy in the internet age

Interesting to see the Irish Times editorial re Internet privacy. I commented previously re my own concerns on the level of surveillance which is now omnipresent. The editorial references comments made recently by Eric Schmidt. Schmidt somewhat controversially has suggested a notion whereby people might wipe the slate clean and start with a new identity at some instant in their lives. He has also been keen to emphasise the difference between privacy and anonymity.

There are no easy answers here. You cannot have much of the desired localisation of services without providing personal information – but there is always a balance between what you are willing to reveal and what you will accept as personalised service. Facebook’s latest expansion of its service to support specification of your location is another example of this.

Web is now critical to running the world

Excellent piece by James Hendler.  Would be difficult to argue with: ‘the Web continues to increase in its importance to society and to science, and we now realize that the Web is a critical infrastructure on which we as a society, and a world, fundamentally rely’.

On the downside mentions some negatives e.g.’ to radically redefine individual privacy, and to expose our children to unprecedented levels of violence and pornography – disincentives to innovation’.

Have to say as someone who grew up in a time of far less surveillance this does worry me a lot for the kids of today.  Many’s the stupid things that we did when we were growing up – which were better not being video’d and posted to the world.  To be honest the prevalence of digital cameras and similar devices are probably more of the problem than the web itself.  But I’m not sure hor w this will work itself out – potentially a nightmare version of Orwell’s 1984 is playing itself out – where Big Brother is now a combination of ‘citizens’ snooping on people and the web as Big Brother processing and forwarding the data.

'Friends' in facebook

Been making more use of facebook in the last few weeks.  Hard not to – when 250m people are using it.

Was discussing it with a few different friends.  One said he uses it to keep track of/ stay in touch with people overseas, ie does not see a lot of benefit in using it with people located close by.

I’ve certainly found it useful in terms of renewing acquaintances with people based overseas (e.g. fellow College grads) – and then staying in touch with them.  Interestingly I had two such friends visit Ireland recently and in both cases we failed to catch up, physically.  So my question was: are you pretending you have more friends than you have?  Or has the technology made you so lazy that you don’t make the effort to track someone down physically when they are here on a short vacation?

The truth is that we all continue to live very busy lives.  On a short vacation to the old ‘homeland’ there is not a whole lot of time for all the ‘one on one’ catchups.  But then I was thinking about it – ‘presence’ would probably have made the difference.  We have the technology (google, brightkite, etc) to be aware of someone’s location e.g. if I’m based in the office in the city centre and the overseas visitor happens to be in town then this may be the easist way to catch up for a coffee or whatever – without any mahor diary planning, etc.

To some this will feel like another invasion of privacy – to others a way fo making the technology work to support physical relationships.  And the technology should be good enough for you to control who may be aware of your presence, in which time frame and even in which general location.  All just about possible now.

Would suggest that www.brightkite.com is worth a look.

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