A user-centric and humanistic paradigm for privacy and #dignity

A user-centric and humanistic paradigm for privacy and dignity

by Stan Faryna

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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Stan Faryna
30 March 2012
Bucharest, Romania


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4 Responses to A user-centric and humanistic paradigm for privacy and #dignity

  1. I see that the moment the government or any legal or legislative crowd get control of anything like this, it gets worse.
    Lets hit the source.
    If they don’t do right, don’t use their product.
    if they do, promote them.
    Cleans out the nest and gets rid of the cucooko’s.

    • Stan Faryna says:


      I agree that government has an unfortunate bedside manner with more concerns and problems for every solution it brings.

      I agree that the best course of action is vote with our feet- but we, the indignant minority, will only disadvantage ourselves if we remove ourselves from the intertubes, the mobile web, etc.

      But I do not believe that VCs are ready to cough up 100 Million at the get-go for an alternate service to Facebook, Twitter, etc. on the so-called competitive advantage of a better privacy practice. I could be wrong, but I don’t know who could have a chance to compete with less than 100 Million.

      Consider too, the story of Mark Zuckerberg laughing his head off as he reads the private, adulterous, hot chat between two upstanding men of strong religious conviction. The story is not going to out, but you can be sure it happened. And, yes, the sheer number of users in the case of Facebook makes it unlikely for your private messages to be of particular interest.

      However, should there be a return to McCathy-esque trials and witch hunts for unAmerican, unBritish, or un-whatever sentiments, the keyword searches will identify anyone who was ever capable of a little independent thought. Or those who merely took poetic liberties.

      Help me believe that people will work to their best interests, Billy.

  2. LaRae Quy says:

    Hi Stan

    You bring up such an important point – at what point do we say it’s OK to lose our privacy? I worked for the government for years and citizens have far more rights protecting their privacy from the government than we do from ordinary business like google and

    It still amazes me that people got up in arms over the Patriot Act because it allowed FBI to look at people’s reading lists WITH a judge signed warrant . . . and yet Amazon follows my reading patterns all the time AND makes recommendations for me! That’s just creepy. The other day I got an email from some company who saw that I’d looked at portable projector (on google) and thought I might to look at theirs!

    At some point, we’ve got to take back our rights. And it’s not government we’re fighting – it’s business.

Speak from your heart!

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