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Some thoughts about privacy

I should probably know better than take on an issue like privacy when I’m in a hurry and jotting down a post on my iPhone but I can’t help myself.

Here goes…

This week there has been a lot of heat about our privacy. The nyt ran a story about “over sharing”, facebook now makes our data available in more places, blippy caught some tough press about a credit card leak and I’m sure there were reports about other issues as well.

That combined with past statements by Internet execs saying “privacy is over” etc etc.

It’s a tough combo.

My quick thoughts

First, privacy isn’t dead and it’s still important to many of us that choose to live in public (yours truly included)

At the same time there is a huge benefit of sharing openly with others.

So, where is the rub?

In my mind it’s all about choice and “front door” vs “back door”

Services like Twitter, blippy, tumblr etc are all explicitly for people want to share openly. These services and others like them self select folks that are comfortable sharing openly and they self filter what choose to post and what they don’t. I call this “front door”. Data comes in and it’s clear where it goes.

There are other services where it’s not clear where your data goes once the app gets a hold of your data. If you joined a service thinking your data was intended to be private and then gets sold or distributed without you knowing then I call that “back door”. It leaves out the back when you weren’t looking.

Now let’s get specific.

When facebook makes it hard to keep your data private and you have to dial dozens of privacy controls then that’s not cool in my book (the eff post was dizzying about this issue). Most people joined fb thinking there data was only available to the people that received permission in the first place.

Blippy had a bug or someone hacked into their system and lost some credit cards. That was a mistake and I’m confident that the team will make remedies and fix that to the best of their abilities. Many services will make mistakes since we are all human. I’m happy to trust that these services will do right by me. If netflix for example accidently let’s a hacker in then I will forgive them since I know they will fix it.

If I didn’t have that attitude I wouldn’t buy stuff online etc. The benefit outweighs the risk.

Ultimately there is a difference between explicit sharing vs unknown sharing. Bugs may happen in the former but I’ll take that all day long over the latter.

(pardon the lack of links or typos)