Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Internet Privacy: It could be the worst deal ever

Cory Doctorow writes in the MIT Technology Review:

Why do we seem to value privacy so little? In part, it's because we are told to. Facebook has more than once overridden the privacy preferences set by its users, replacing them with new system-wide defaults.

..Even if you read the fine print, human beings are awful at pricing out the net present value of a decision whose consequences are far in the future.

Browser makers have imposes some sort of order before, he says, especially when they gave users the ability to block the pop-up ads that infuriated them. And the same principle should apply again.

Far from destroying business, letting users control disclosure would create value. Design an app that I willingly give my location to (as I do with the Hailo app for ordering black cabs in London) and you'd be one of the few and proud firms with my permission to access and sell that information. Right now, the users and the analytics people are in a shooting war, but only the analytics people are armed. There's a business opportunity for a company that wants to supply arms to the rebels instead of the empire.


Indeed. I haven't posted anything on Facebook for years because I distrust it so much. I take grim satisfaction in seeing its stock price plunge.


And I notice cookie permission requests popping up on major sites in recent weeks, so things are beginning to tighten up.


That same wariness is why I like to stay anonymous even if I love blogging here.


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