Sunday, January 31, 2010

Internet Data Privacy …...err whats that??!!

Today, I learnt from Hindu that January 28th was observed as "Data Privacy Day" from 2009 onwards. The idea is to raise awareness and promote online data privacy education. It is currently celebrated in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries. India not having a separate privacy law still will mean that online users disgruntled with misuse of private data have to find ways under other Acts to get justice, probably should come under Information Technology Act of 2008. In today's world with daily increase in information getting shared online, especially on social networks, it becomes important to step back and look at not only the safeguards on personal data online but also whether online information sharing requires any etiquette. I am least bothered about how professional information about companies is being misused. Perhaps I am worried/bothered about individual's personal information getting misused.

One fine example was how employees at Facebook tried manipulating user profile datas. More information can be found in the below link which is nothing but transcript of the interview with a facebook employee discussing about the privacy (refer : Obviously you will not find the employee name there. Don't ask me why and you are at the wrong place.
 Few weeks back, I read an fine article about data privacy titled as "Google, Privacy, and You". The article starts with the author limited use/exposure to google services. (I envy this guy for limited use of google as I use google religiously. The list goes like this... personal mails, map, chat, social networking and finally the search engine etc). Immediately followed with this (courtesy : Securosis Blog).

First, a quote from Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google (the full quote, not just the first part, which many sites used):
If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, but if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it's important, for example that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.
Little bit disappointed with such a statement. Anyway, I am not going to debate what is wrong here. Rather I plan to blog separately on this topic. But one point I totally agree with Securosis was "There has never before been a time in human history when one single, private entity has collected this much information on a measurable percentage of the world's population." This is totally true. Probably everyone will realize this once they read this :-).
Meanwhile, I would like to say few words about the most popular social networking FaceBook. I wonder how many of us bothered to go through the recently updated privacy policy adapted by this site. A very good article on this can be found here. I bet it is worth reading. Read more on social networking privacy issues in wiki.

So the bottom line is use with caution. Now, I will have to work on how to handle this in a better way!!!.

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