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back to article Rescue privacy before it vanishes forever

I used to be able to bowl alone on the internet. Now I'm constantly forced into social interaction. I blame Tim O'Reilly. Or, rather, the misinterpretation of one of his core principles: "architectures of participation" – meaning systems that default to user participation. O'Reilly didn't argue that users should be forced to …

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For a change

For a change, I agree with one of these articles :D

Another case in point is Yahoo.

I have an email account with a Yahoo address. If you use their address book to list some of your contacts, when you use WebMail, they immediately bombard you with suggestions that you chat with people in your list or see what they're up to. Presumably they are punting all of this to your contacts as well.

I just find it all a bit annoying

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Big Brother

dimocrasy, innit?

that is to say, the world + dog 'approve' of facebook/twitter updates for every move you make, hence many sites have 3rd party credentialling linked to – at least potential – news feeds of every comment / high score :-)

that's democracy as the internet understands it; so until true democracy overrides it, imposing some real laws to protect our privacy / our future rights, the only vote that counts is the internet equivalent of voting with your feet

Matt, congratulations for resisting the trolling instinct for once :-D

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Yes!

Haha, yes! Exact same reaction.

The last article I read from Matt Asay was on the future value of Facebook hitting $1 trillion. There was a massive negative reaction (myself included) in the comments. I felt that his article reflected the opinion of someone caught inside a Silicon-Valley w*nk circle

This article is more more balanced, and actually addresses one of the reasons why Facebook will struggle to achieve the suggested valuation. People will tire of exchanging their data for access when they start questioning the value of the services they are paying for against the costs which are only now starting to become apparent

Kudos to you Matt, this was interesting

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Anonymous Coward

you nailed it.

That's the reason that I closed my @yahoo.com email account. One that I had since (I dont really remember), because I could not abide their new ToS.

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Isn't there an easy answer to this?

Just don't bother with Facebook, Twitter or Google+. The world will still turn.

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Not really

The point is, that, these days, you can sign up to some perfectly useful and obvious service, like a monthly video hire service (for instance, naming no names) - money exchanged for a tangible product, and all that - only to discover that your service provider has chosen to share the data - which you originally gave them for a fairly reasonable purpose (send me the videos I've paid you for) - with some "social networking site" that you have been actively avoiding for the last few years.

Online retailers are in danger of colluding in trying to drive us into a form of interaction most of us have no interest in, and have actually avoided - and seem blind to the damage they may ultimately do, not only to their own business, but the entire idea of online retailing as a whole. If you can no longer buy a chair from Argos, say, without worrying that you'll end up with a Facebook account being set up for you, then, you may end up yearning for the high street.

In some ways, it is the fact that the betrayals of our data come from such banal sources, that is most offensive. I once bought a hand-cranked paper shredder, made by Draper (£5.99), from a tools store in Stockport, online.

(Yes: I bought from the lowest budder, just like the MOD. No: I've never been to Stockport, and have about as much interest in going there, as people from Stockport probably have, in visiting my village.)

What could be more run of the mill than that, you may wonder? Except I now get weekly invites to 'follow' them on Facebook. Yes: a DIY store in Stockport... they want me to "follow" them on Facebook!

I never opted into that. Where does it say Facebook has a right to know of my preferences for hand-cranked paper-shredding machines? Or, indeed, Mancunian suburban tool shops. Is the fact I even WANT to own a hand-cranked paper-shredding machine, perhaps, in some ways regarded as evidence of the fact I need to be encouraged to "share" more?

On the plus side, it is quite a good hand cranked paper shredder. I particularly like the icons, warning you of the dangers of trapping your hand in it, while you crank away at it (presumably using the other hand).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not really

If you are from Europe, or anywhere else with similar data protection laws, I imagine you will be aware that the "perfectly useful and obvious service" is not permitted to exchange your personal data (including shopping habits) with anyone else unless you explicitly consent to it. Doing so without explicit consent and without respecting your associated rights will be in breach of the law (and has been so for over 30 years in some countries, e.g., France). Such cases can and must be reported to the relevant data protection authority (in the UK, send also a spare denture in case they can't find theirs).

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair

The example he gave doesn't really link in with what the article is getting at.

Basically the issue is that now to use the "really useful service" you need a Facebook/Twitter account just to log into their system. It's basically an OpenID system with huge privacy pitfalls

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Unhappy

Start with a false premise

Then go on to blame the internet for your mistakes.

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Go

I fully agree...

...and I thought I was alone, with the usual way I get abuse and 'well get lost then' sort of comments.

I still think that the way these systems are intended to work are to snag the teenaged and hormonally imbalanced. Nothing gets most teens more interested than a way to scream 'see me! watch what I do! listen to my opinions! see how cool my life is!!'. The problem is that once you're there, you aren't getting out of it easily.

The other danger I can see coming is that people aren't ever going to be able to reinvent themselves, atone for their past mistakes, or just get a fresh start in life when these 'services' will store and reveal to the world all of their past glorious mistakes. Ten+ years from now I can see alot of people suddenly realising that their prospective employer, ex-partners, ex-friends or new families can catch up on every little indiscretion that they thought was hugely fun or funny at the time.

Here's hoping for better privacy, and some statutes to allow a person to eliminate their online presence in favour of a new lease of life...

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Value of privacy in a nutshell

"The other danger I can see coming is that people aren't ever going to be able to reinvent themselves, atone for their past mistakes, or just get a fresh start in life "

This is what real privacy means to me. We have all done this, no?

This is my main worry about the "storage of everything" - your personality somehow gets stored too, and you can become trapped by it. People genuinely change/reform themselves (for better or worse), and they should have the space to do so

People who say "only the guilty have nothing to hide" are deeply, deeply mistaken

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A no-no

Speaking personally, the idea of any form of so-called "social networking" leaves me stone cold. I fail to see the attraction in laying out an entire life's activities for all to see with the attendant risk that something (however innocent it might seem at the time) may come back to haunt you in the future. It strikes me as rather sad. I have better things to do with my time.

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Anonymous Coward

three things

three things I never understand about social networking etc

1. How can anyone be so vain as to think the rest of the world care to know their every passing thought.

2. In as much as anyone may take an interest; why provide such information to your rivals and enemies.

3. OK, your clever you realise that what you present as an online persona is not the real you: but not so clever as to realise you are not cut out to be a full time actor.

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Go

Codependence

When your life is defined by others, you'll always feel inadequate, small, insignificant and etc. The phrase "get a life" comes to mind.

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Unfortunately...

.. there's money to be made in selling our details to advertisers. As long as advertisers are willing to pay per impression, instead of per actual click, then these businesses will continue profiting from making us take part.

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Sir

I wish we could just ban advertising.

Have a government owned and run central website that you can log on to to look for the things you might want. Then sellers can register their products and services, match the two together and hey presto.

Unfortunately it will never happen. Consume away peasants.

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Big Brother

title

"Have a government owned and run central website that you can log on to to look for the things you might want."

Are you insane?

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Sir

"Are you insane?"

Hmm, that one would have to depend on your definition I think :)

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Sir

For you down-voters out there, it's like goldy, only made of iron. Sheesh.

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Childcatcher

That's precisely why

I didn't sign up with Klout. I have far too many apps / web ecosystems / "communities" trying to track my every move through one another already.

Won't someone think of the children?!

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Multiple personalities

Let me guess: you only have one single lousy email address and all your registrations go to that. So with only 1 email, you only have 1 FB account, only 1 twitter account and so on and so forth.

Quick tip: email addresses are free. Grab a handful. Get on Yahoo! and gmx and spamgourmet and all the others. Sign up for an account on all the social media sites from each email and then your webby footprints will be so diluted and diverse that there is no possibility they'll be traced back to your "real" account: the motherlode - unless you start being "friends" with yourself, but what you do in your own time is none of my business.

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Anonymous Coward

not really.

That only works if you pay for a separate vpn tunnel service for use with each email address, otherwise your ISP can link all of your email addresses together. Of course, the other option is to use a particular coffee shop for each.

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Clarity

Maybe I didn't make myself clear.

You go to the FB home page. Where is asks you to log in, you enter one of your (registered) email addresses and the corresponding password, You are then in a FB account. You may, or may not choose to add friends to that account and you may or may not have used your real name (the FB rules say you should, but what exactly _is_ a name? Merely a tag - possibly one that a parent assigned to you). However, once logged into that account you can use it to validate an identity to register with other web services, as the original article described.

If you log out of that FB account and then log back into FB with a different email address that was registered to a different FB account, so far as their system is concerned you are a different person - even if you have used the same name as in the original account,

You don't need coffee shops, or VPNs and what an ISP does, makes no difference. The worst that FB might "think" is that two people are sharing the same computer. For convenience it may be easier to use separate browsers: Firefox, Opera, Internet Exploder, whatever Macs have, Dillo, etc. so you can keep the cookies and bookmarks separate,

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Perhaps...

Your approach would make perfect sense if it weren't for matching of information and photo recognition.

For example, Facebook will be using, if it hasn't already implemented it, facial recogniition of peoples' photos in order to automatically tag them.

Of course, you can say 'well don't put up a photo', but then what happens with any other information you put in there. It can all be pattern-matched along with dates, etc, with other services - all whom allow search engines to trawl through their data with wild abandon.

In the end you just have absolutely no point to even being on any of these sites in the first place. Putting up useless information, nonsensical pictures and/or complete lies about your data means you may as well have just not bothered.

I don't actually mind targeted advertising and relevant use of data. I just want the appropriate privacy controls and the rights to my own data. No-company should have the right to store my personal information if I so deem that they should not have it.

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Holy crap, Asay nails it

I didn't know that could happen.

My advice: Don't participate. If they can't handle logins via anything but Facebook or Twitter, don't use the site; they have nothing to offer you. You don't need Spotify. You don't need Klout. You sure as shit don't need Foursquare, and you don't need Facebook or Twitter either. What do they do for you? Not as much as you do for them; your presence earns them money and earns you only headaches. Just don't involve yourself. Find something else to do. Keep in touch with people the old-fashioned way; it involves a little more effort, but isn't that worth your while in comparison with the alternative?

Opt out -- or quit complaining about how you've unwittingly sold your soul for a pocketful of fairy gold.

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Anonymous Coward

Network effect might force you to participate

So it's this service today. So it's another tomorrow. At some point something vital-to-you might end up "connecting" to facebook and twitter and maybe even neglect to provide an alternative. In fact, it very much looks like gov.uk is contemplating going down that road.*

So these things now you can do without. The problem is that this won't stay the case. The complaint consequently isn't about not using these services now, but about the coming lock-in where you de-facto cannot opt-out any longer.

And yes, we should make sure that lock-in does not succeed, that there will be a less privacy unfriendly alternative for those that want it.

* http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/10/caninet_office_id_assurance_facebook/

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Yay!!!!!!

Does it come with free Ring Tones as Well?

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure 3rd party login and defaulting to public content are the same thing

I don't use FB or Twitter, so I don't login to anything that requires one of them in order to login.

While my personal preference is to limit what is public (I usually check the "post anon" box on the reg) I get the impression that Google+ is mostly about the things you want to express is public. Letting you know that someone is listening (added you to a circle) allows you to adjust what you say in public the same way you would if your boss was walking past your desk ;)

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Headmaster

another thing

that annoys me is how long sites hold information about people.

Fair enough if someone is active on a site but if someone hasn't visited a site for 2 or more years, why do they keep information? I know it's so they can claim they have X members for the advertisers but if someone puts in proper info then there should be a time limit.

There was the case with the Sony hack, where old Everquest (I think) registrations from years ago were still held and email addresses swiped by the hacksters.

There should be a "Delete Account" button for every site.

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Anonymous Coward

Agree

I've just been spammed by Ticketmaster. AFAIK I've never had a Ticketmaster account and checking in the password manager in Firefox confirmed this. After reading the small print I realised they've bought another ticket booking agency I bought some tickets from three years ago.

So I logged in using my old credentials, filled the data with rubbish, saved it, then happily stumbled across a 'Delete Account' button which I decided to use. I don't for a minute believe that my e-mail address has disappeared in a puff of smoke but hopefully at least one less company will have my home address and phone number unless they're into the habit of resuscitating old data from backups and selling it on (which wouldn't surprise me either).

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Happy

filled the data with rubbish

I did the same with Skype when Microsoft took them over.

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WTF?

What the hell is Spotify?

Enough said.

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Stop

Just say no

Really.

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Facebook is now a non optional social obligation.

It used to be that when something important happened in a friend or family members life they picked up a phone and called. Now they just post on Facebook. If I don't check my facebook page, I end up socially excluded.

Its not that bad as long as you steer clear of the games and ban messages from all those stupid apps and remember to check for new privacy settings.

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Alien

Sign & ignore

A friend had his 40th birthday not long ago and all the invites & details were coordinated via Facebook.

Eventually I set up a FB account, but I ignore it as much as possible. I think I have exactly one picture posted.

If anything interesting happens, they send me an email.

There's about a half-dozen "Friend" invites from people whose names I don't recognise, that I'm ignoring at the moment. Probably one or two of them are from people that I actually know.

Being an antisocial bastard I can live with that.

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Spot On!

Where's the like button for this article so I can share it?

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when will people learn

when will people learn that with these "free" services like google+, twitter, facebook etc, THEY ARE THE PRODUCT FOR SALE

simples,

the idea you give as much information as possible to the system, and ideally share it with the world and his dog, the the system (G+, faceache etc) then uses it for income from adverstising (in effect sells it to the highest bidder)

they even go out of their way to create API's for pay customers (eg advertisers) to be able to data mine YOUR information, so this is the reason they want you to share stuff publically, as if you say it is private thay are not able to make it public to their customers the paying advertisiers

that said unless they had paying customers (the advertisiers etc) the service would not be free

you can't have it both ways

but you do have a choice of using it or not putting information on it you do not want made public

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Did you RTFA?

The articles not complaining about what Facebook store etc, it's complaining that an increasing number of sites are requiring you to have a Facebook/Twitter account to login to their services.

FWIW when alpha.gov.uk asked for feedback, I emailed them a bollocking for making the option to login without needing a Facebook/Twitter account so well hidden.

The way I view it is that most techies realise that using Facebook comes at a cost, you trade a bit of privacy for the 'benefits' of the service (what they are? depends on you). Average Joe doesn't seem to realise this, so I view it as ethically wrong for any organisation to make it seem like you have to make this compromise.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Ben Tasker

Not arguing the article premise, and I agree with your interpretation, however I think a more important issue here is that we only give up our informational freedom if we so chose - the reality of the situation is that although being forced to use twitter etc. to access other sites is becoming de rigeur, the reality is that these sites need us more than we need these sites.

If you have an issue with it (as I do) then refuse to deal with the site and contact them with the reason - no point in just boycotting them unless they know why.

So, if anyone out these has an issue with giving their private details to people who have no reason to have those details, primarily so that the private individual can buy a service from them then the private individuals need to stop whining and either suck it up like an adult or go and use a different supplier.

Oh, and stop taking Matt Assay articles seriously - the man is obviously at least one tinny short of a six-pack and his rantings, sorry writings, are clearly and obviously the internet equivalent to that guy in town who argues with the pigeons.

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Anonymous Coward

Multiple Personalities

I have different groups of friends who know a different me. I could never mix those friends in the same room without conflict. My clients for my self employed business would be a little shocked at my personal life.

I could never see the point in trying to keep updating statuses on Twitbook. I spend too long on the computer as it is. I'd rather be in the pub talking to my mates in RealLife™

When I see websites insisting on Facebook\Twitter - I track down their ContactUs page and explain why I will not trade with them.

Meanwhile... Facebook has the scary side that even though I don't take part, they already know far too much about me from my email address(es) given to them by other users. It worries me when I get the Friend requests coming through and there are the little links at the bottom of the page saying "These people also know you...". And there are people from all sides of my life that I often would not want to meet each other.

Ever tried going to the Facebook website to opt-out? Especially trying to opt-out of the Facial Recognition stuff? Yep - there is no way to talk to them without having an account. The only links I could find to request an opt-out would always go to a broken link.

So to opt-out of Facebook you must opt-in before you can ask to opt-out. Catch-22

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Holmes

"But unless I go out of my way to block them, they see whatever I share publicly."

Uuhhh... yes?

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I totally agree

> O'Reilly's "architecture of participation" is a Very Good Idea. But the execution of that idea by too many in the web world seems to be wrongheaded and potentially dangerous ..

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Big Brother

We need more anti-social networking

I am a great proponent of anti-social networking. Everything should default to opt-out. Existing providers, including Google, should be required to trash their existing databases and start again on the basis of requiring specific opt-ins. Somehow I doubt this is ever going to happen.

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Go

Telephone ...

... both cell and land line, text, email, public roads that run both ways, the mail service and even amateur radio. Many ways to communicate with me ... pick one. You don't pick one of those, screw you.

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Gold badge

Maybe worth explaining what EXPLICIT means (in contract terms)

I'm pretty sure no commentard has any trouble with what explicit *content* it, but the term "explicit" in the context of permission is often misunderstood. It means that your permission cannot be implied by burying a bit of white 6-point text on a white background somewhere in a contract: your permission for use has to be sought SEPARATELY from anything else.

Personally, I have noticed an inverse relationship between the length of a privacy statement and just how protected your details are. The longer it looks, the more likely something is hiding in there that is not to your benefit..

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