It should concern us that most computer users -- ourselves included -- see themselves as dependent variables in respect to large companies' privacy policies, rather than as independent variables.
I mean, it's understandable that big companies think of themselves as In Control. Hey: they are. They should have an obligation to care about users' privacy, and to explain their privacy policies. But why should we behave as supplicants to these companies, or even to governments, in respect to how anybody or anything treats what we regard as private information about ourselves and what we do in the world?
The short answer is that we don't have much choice. For individuals, privacy control tools are still limited. Meanwhile, what needs to be controlled remains nearly unlimited. And intrusive by nature. Cookies, for example. They're these things that live in our browsers and give others the ability to track us like animals. Never mind that these can be used for many Good Things. The fact remains that they are symptomatic of an asymmetry of control ability. What we might generously call a "relationship" with cookie-placers is our ability to forbid or get rid of them. But figuring out what they are isn't easy, or likely to happen.
This all comes up for me because I'm at a lecture by Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel for Google. (The link is to his blog, not his job.) He's doing a very good job of explaining all the stuff Google does to care about privacy and to Do The Right Thing, whatever that may be. And conditions do vary, all over the world. There's a lot to care and talk about here.
The problem is that Google's perspective is Google's alone. It's a BigCo perspective. Which is fine, as far as it goes. Where it doesn't go, and where it can't go, is toward itself, from the individual. That's the side that needs to be built out -- not just so geeks can control their privacy, can assert their own privacy and information usage policies; but so anybody can do the same thing. Easily.
Personal control over one's own online privacy is important, of course. In fact it's necessary -- but also insufficient to a much larger area of concern and opportunity: relationship.
We have many relationships online. All of them, however, are defined and controlled (sometimes from both sides) within each company's silo. What we don't have are personally controlled global approaches to relationship, including privacy variables.
For example, let's say I want to publish my interest in buying a laptop that weighs less than five pounds and has a 500Gb hard drive, when such a thing is ready. Let's also say I want to do this in the open market, outside any company's silo. I don't want to do it only inside Amazon, or Google, or eBay. I want to do it in the open, and on my own terms. Let's also say that I want to make clear the fact that I have good money ready to spend on this product, and can be trusted as a customer -- but that I not reveal my name or any other information about myself that I don't want to reveal. Let's also say that I actually have relationships with some companies, and that I am willing to reveal that fact just to those companies.
What we're talking about here is selective disclosure in the context of what we might call a personal RFP. Joe Andrieu goes into some detail about what this might involve. It is critical to his case, and mine, that we see the user as the point of integration. One reason we haven't made progress on this is that we all still see companies (rather than individuals) as points of integration. This gives us countless CRM (customer relationship management) systems -- by companies -- each with its own silo. When we want to transcend these silos, we look for one bigger silo, which only compounds the problem. A good example of this is the idea of a national identity system, or a single place where everybody's health care data can live.
The ability of individuals to manage relationships with companies (and organizations, and government entities) -- what we call VRM -- is something that needs to live with ourselves. Nobody else can give it to us. In fact it's a mistake to look for them to give it to us, because then it's not ours. This is something we have to build for ourselves. As we've done with many other piles of code.
Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal
|Dynamic DNS—an Object Lesson in Problem Solving||May 21, 2013|
|Using Salt Stack and Vagrant for Drupal Development||May 20, 2013|
|Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)||May 16, 2013|
|Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This||May 15, 2013|
|Home, My Backup Data Center||May 13, 2013|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Seashore||May 10, 2013|
- RSS Feeds
- Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)
- Using Salt Stack and Vagrant for Drupal Development
- Dynamic DNS—an Object Lesson in Problem Solving
- New Products
- Validate an E-Mail Address with PHP, the Right Way
- Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This
- A Topic for Discussion - Open Source Feature-Richness?
- Download the Free Red Hat White Paper "Using an Open Source Framework to Catch the Bad Guy"
- Tech Tip: Really Simple HTTP Server with Python
- Roll your own dynamic dns
3 hours 19 min ago
- Please correct the URL for Salt Stack's web site
6 hours 30 min ago
- Android is Linux -- why no better inter-operation
8 hours 46 min ago
- Connecting Android device to desktop Linux via USB
9 hours 14 min ago
- Find new cell phone and tablet pc
10 hours 12 min ago
11 hours 41 min ago
- Automatically updating Guest Additions
12 hours 50 min ago
- I like your topic on android
13 hours 36 min ago
- This is the easiest tutorial
20 hours 12 min ago
- Ahh, the Koolaid.
1 day 1 hour ago
Enter to Win an Adafruit Pi Cobbler Breakout Kit for Raspberry Pi
It's Raspberry Pi month at Linux Journal. Each week in May, Adafruit will be giving away a Pi-related prize to a lucky, randomly drawn LJ reader. Winners will be announced weekly.
Fill out the fields below to enter to win this week's prize-- a Pi Cobbler Breakout Kit for Raspberry Pi.
Congratulations to our winners so far:
- 5-8-13, Pi Starter Pack: Jack Davis
- 5-15-13, Pi Model B 512MB RAM: Patrick Dunn
- 5-21-13, Prototyping Pi Plate Kit: Philip Kirby
- Next winner announced on 5-27-13!
Free Webinar: Hadoop
How to Build an Optimal Hadoop Cluster to Store and Maintain Unlimited Amounts of Data Using Microservers
Realizing the promise of Apache® Hadoop® requires the effective deployment of compute, memory, storage and networking to achieve optimal results. With its flexibility and multitude of options, it is easy to over or under provision the server infrastructure, resulting in poor performance and high TCO. Join us for an in depth, technical discussion with industry experts from leading Hadoop and server companies who will provide insights into the key considerations for designing and deploying an optimal Hadoop cluster.
Some of key questions to be discussed are:
- What is the “typical” Hadoop cluster and what should be installed on the different machine types?
- Why should you consider the typical workload patterns when making your hardware decisions?
- Are all microservers created equal for Hadoop deployments?
- How do I plan for expansion if I require more compute, memory, storage or networking?