Aug 18, 2010

The user formerly known as Karen Hobert

The BBC World News Hour presented this report (Chapter 10) in reaction to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's recent comments about personal privacy:

"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I mean we really have to think about these things as a society."

Really? You're telling us now that you're hording everything that we're posting on-line and you're giving us no way to retract it? That it's entirely up to us to make sure we don't compromise ourselves - or to trust others not to (hint: it's much harder) - and it's Society's responsibility to ensure that we don't end up looking over our shoulders all the time? That services like Google have no responsibility in the matter to help us to protect our identities? That our only recourse is to change our identities (which BTW violates at least Facebook's policy)?

This is the 800 pound gorilla in the on-line privacy room and the ultimate blame shift. There are some nuggets in the BBC report including comments by Andrew Orlowski, Editor of one of my favorite on-line techzines The Register:

It's an incredibly naive idea but unfortunately it's common in the digital culture of Silicon Valley...In my view, technology should create tools that people use the way they actually want to use them...We shouldn't have (sic) to erase our identities...

There's a paradox here because he [Eric Schmidt] depends on users contributing this information but then doesn't take responsibility for this...this is almost a statement of desperation saying 'Look you have to change who you are, you have to do all the work yourself, and we're not going to help you.'

We should demand we are sovereign in everything we do...One thing that would help enormously is that a lot of this data exchange is done because the services are free...If we pay or the services it would make us a lot more demanding.
The irony is not lost here, especially since this blog is on Blogger, a Google owned service.

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