A user-centric and humanistic paradigm for privacy and dignity
by Stan Faryna
Fred Wilson, a VC and principal of Union Square Ventures, pokes the hornet’s nest with Some Thoughts on Online Privacy. In fact, the FTC has recently proposed the need for urgent legislation on the matter. Seth Godin, however, has suggested that our expectations for confidentiality of our online activity, transactions, and activities is a quixiotic quest.
Aretha Franklin, Respect
Seth’s apology reminds me of documentaries of teary-eyed, octogenerian Germans who helplessly exclaim of their complicity in hate crimes and genocide: everyone was doing it – that’s the way it was.
Yes, privacy statements are worthless because, most of the time, only the company knows if it has violated its agreement with the user. And if it has violated those terms, the user is not likely to know. For obvious reasons.
Unregulated markets are especially problematic in this regard. Organizations are as deeply entangled in deception, self-deception, and sin (for lack of a better word) as the human person.
I could share stories with you about the online advertising industry’s long-standing failure to self-regulate a broad range of known problems from falsification of traffic to misrepresentation of what is viewable in an impression, from counterfeit measurement to misrepresented inventory purchases, etc. But those are stories for another day.
There must be a certain level of scale at which user data should be directly available to the user via secure access. Let’s say such rules should be applied to any service (online or offline) that has 500,000 or more registered users.
1. The user shall have access to a secure interface, review the data collected in a well organized format, correct inaccuracies, and delete sensitive data points at the user’s discretion.
2. The user shall be able to review each incidence in which their data was used or sold, opt out of future uses/sales of their data, and be provided with an option to pay for continued service.
3. The user shall be able to review internal or third party sources using direct marketing to reach them and opt out of individual campaigns currently using their contact data.
This is the kind of straight-forward, one-page legislation that would serve our dignity as human persons – it would also allow start-ups and other businesses to be on firm footing before they have to invest in the new technologies of accountability and civic responsibility.
If you believe that my proposal has serious merit or is a step in the right direction, share the link to this post with your friends, family, fans, and followers:
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30 March 2012
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