Organizations

Why we’re not endorsing Contract for the Web

The Contract for the Web is a new thing that wants people to endorse it. While there is much to like in it, what we see under Principle 5 (of 9) is a deal-breaker: Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust. So people are in control of their lives online, empowered with clear and meaningful choices around their data and privacy: By giving people control over their privacy and data rights, with clear and meaningful choices…

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Privacy is personal. Let’s start there.

The GDPR won’t give us privacy. Nor will ePrivacy or any other regulation. We also won’t get it from the businesses those regulations are aimed at. Because privacy is personal. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have invented clothing and shelter, or social norms for signaling to each what’s okay and what’s not okay. On the Internet we have none of those. We’re still as naked as we were in Eden. But let’s get some perspective here:  we invented clothing and shelter long…

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Time for THEM to agree to OUR terms

Try to guess how many times, in the course of your life in the digital world, have “agreed” to terms like these: Hundreds? Thousands? (Feels like) millions? Look at the number of login/password combinations remembered by your browser. That’ll be a fraction of the true total. Now think about what might happen if we could turn these things around. How about if sites and services could agree to our terms and conditions, and our privacy policies? We’d have real agreements, and real relationships, freely established, between parties of…

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Giving Customers Scale

Customers need scale. Scale is leverage. A way to get lift. Big business gets scale by aggregating resources, production methods, delivery services — and, especially, customers: you, me and billions of others without whom business would not exist. Big business is heavy by nature. That’s why we use mass as an adjective for much of what big business does: mass manufacturing, mass distribution, mass retailing, mass marketing, and mass approaches to everything, including legal agreements. For personal perspective on this, consider how…

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Privacy is an Inside Job

Start here: clothing and shelter are privacy technologies. We use them to create secluded spaces for ourselves. Spaces we control. Our ancestors have been wearing clothing for at least 170,000 years and building shelters for at least half a million years. So we’ve had some time to work out what privacy means. Yes, it differs among cultures and settings, but on the whole it is well understood and not very controversial. On the Internet we’ve had about 21 years*. That’s not enough time to…

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New Rules for Privacy Regulations

The Wall Street Journal has an informative conversation with Lawrence Lessig: Technology Will Create New Models for Privacy Regulation. What underlies a change toward new models are two points: the servers holding vast user databases are increasingly (and very cheaply) breached, and the value of the information in those databases is being transferred to something more aligned to VRM: use of the data, on a need to know basis. Lessig notes: The average cost per user of a data breach…

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For personal data, use value beats sale value

There’s an argument that goes like this: Companies are making money with personal data, and They are getting this data for free. Therefore, People should be able to make money with that data too. This is not helpful framing, if we want to get full value out of our personal data. Or even to understand what the hell personal data is. Stop and think about this for a second: Everything on your hard drives is personal data. So is every thing…

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The Personal Revolution

While the history of computing and communications often appears to be one led by big entities in business and government, the biggest revolution has actually been a personal one.  Each of us, as individuals, have acquired abilities that were once those of organizations alone — and have done far more with those abilities than the big players ever could — for those big players as well as for ourselves. It started in the early ’80s, when the IBM PC became…

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Privacy is personal

In the physical world, we govern privacy with clothes and walls, buttons, zippers, windows and doors. (See Clothing as a privacy system.) We also see privacy as a thing that can be possessed. That’s the framing for statements like, “Give me some privacy, and “Don’t take away my privacy.” On another hand (there can be many), we also see privacy as a state of being: “This is private.” “Keep this private.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines privacy as “1. a) The quality or…

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