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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Privacy Paradox

At the Verisign Distinguished Speaker, Vint Cerf, one of the founders of internet technology, told us that privacy is impossible on the internet. It is a huge copy machine with multiple copies of everything ingested, and a quest for increasingly more information.

There is a strange paradox about privacy.

One the one hand, there are things we do not share with even the closest of friends and certainly do not choose to have the information available via the internet.

On the other hand, we cheerfully click away our privacy (and sometimes ownership) by agreeing to the terms of service, volunteer information on-line forms (why does a utility app want to know our family income?), and rush to tag pictures of friends as well as publicly share information about ourselves and others.

Others ignore the tenets of privacy - a friend told me about a local TV personality and film crew greeting him as he entered a store: “ come on in and shop while we film you”. He turned on his heel leaving the store and the intrusive video team.

On my social security card there it says DO NOT use for identification – however, many states and localities, as well as the Federal government, require the social security number as an identifier – even used it as a driver license number.

Privacy is a complicated issue with conflicting demands by the individual and others to protect or disclose information. In addition, violating an individual's privacy is an emotional issue.

Recall the firestorm caused by Instagram/Facebook changing the terms of service (TOS) to claim ownership of everything posted on their site and the ability to use the information in any public way they chose. The TOS were revised in a couple of days as a result of the public response.

Give out your name, social security number, and mother's maiden name and you may be sharing your identity with a thief.

As leaders we do not want our organization to be on the wrong side of a privacy issue – best to keep in mind that if we don't collect it, there's no possibility of accident or larceny where we'd lose it. Choose carefully what private information you collect on people; if something goes south, expect the response will be magnified by an emotional reaction.

How do you address the privacy paradox?

End January on an up note – at Talk Your Business - How to make more and better sales right away!Wednesday Jan 30, 11:45 - 1:00 at the Arlington Chamber Small Business Roundtable.


Thoughthebrowser said...

We're not sharing our identity with a thief. We're sharing it with an incompetent bureaucrat who shares it with a thief, and then points to the boilerplate that says he's not responsible for his actions.
It's not the user, it's the hubris of management.

Unknown said...

Another action outside of our control is what and how much information about us a friend will post in social media - probably quite innocently: one person told me about her sister posting a 'cute story' on Facebook about her sister wetting the bed as a kid.

Vint shared a story about one person posting a picture of several people in a fun setting; a second person thought she recognized someone in the picture and 'tagged' the person by name, date, and location; a third person saw the tagged picture and was angry because the cited person cancelled as best man in the wedding because of a conflict - now learns they were out partying in another part of the country...the person in the picture was NOT the absent best man.

Thank you for moving the conversation forward.