Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Berners-Lee: You've Got Our Data, Show Restraint

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the facilitating-the-blackmailing-of-ourselves dept.

Privacy 76

itwbennett writes "Your browsing behavior may reveal more personal information than you'd tell your own mother. Which is why Tim Berners-Lee is urging technology companies to 'show more restraint' in how they use the information they hoover up. 'We're moving towards a world in which people agree not to use information for particular purposes. It's not whether you can get my information, it's when you've got it, what you promise not to do with it,' said Berners-Lee, speaking out against the U.K.'s proposal to allow government intelligence to monitor digital communications."

cancel ×

76 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

hmmm (4, Insightful)

CSMoran (1577071) | about 2 years ago | (#39747985)

Isn't that like asking a lion not to eat us?

Good analogy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748077)

Tim Berners-Lee: "It's not whether you can get my information, it's when you've got it, what you promise not to do with it"

Speak for yourself. For me, it most certainly IS whether they can get it in the first place. Then again, I'm the kind of person that fixes the root of the problem, rather than dick around with the symptoms.

privacy goes (2)

Onymous Coward (97719) | about 2 years ago | (#39748571)

More precisely, you're the kind of person who wants to fix the root of the problem.

The evaporation of privacy is inexorable, it is something you can only impede, not forestall.

Great, work on impeding it. But recognize that long-term solutions require working with the whole system.

Re:Good analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749049)

It sounds like you are the kind of person who doesn't know what the root of the problem even is. The root of the problem isn't that we all want privacy. The root of the problem is the kinds of a-holes that make us need privacy. Stalkers, IRL Trolls, Criminals, Advertisers, Scammers, etc. all want our information. If it weren't for them I really wouldn't care about my info most of the time. (The other remaining reservation is the government). But the root of the problem is that there are too many a-holes and criminals. Fix that and the privacy problem (mostly) goes away.

Re:Good analogy (4, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#39749067)

There's no stopping it, EXCEPT by not giving them the data in the first place. They cannot abuse what they do not have.

And even that will get harder and harder as time goes on. People make tons of "noise" and technology is getting better and better at making sense of it. Regulate government and corporations all you want; it won't matter in twenty years when I can buy a handheld gadget that can spy on you right through your walls.

In fact, mandating privacy will probably hurt us in the long run, because when we hide all our 'ugly' bits it's easy to start assuming they don't exist at all, and overreact when something happens to leak out. The more we hide and the more we polish our images, the more damaging any leak becomes—like having your career ruined because OH MY GOD somebody took a nude photo of you years ago. Privacy is like a suit of armor; it can protect, but it's very restrictive to keep on all the time, you soon feel completely naked and exposed without it, and you live in constant fear of someone finding a chink.

So I agree with Berners-Lee. Keeping everything secret from everybody is not a long-term solution. Responsibility is a long-term solution. We need to stop ourselves from obsessing over details we discover of other peoples' lives. We need to realize that no one is perfect and reject the spotless public images the wealthy and powerful can afford to manufacture. We need to promise to be considerate with the information others reveal to us. And most of all, we need to stigmatize the governments and gossips and paparazzi and anyone who trolls personal information seeking harm or humiliation. Such activity needs to be not simply unlawful but morally reprehensible, regardless of what it might dredge up.

Because in the end, if we can't go about our daily lives without constant fear of those around us, society has failed.

Re:Good analogy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39750921)

People make completely unfair judgments. Some people, for example, will deem someone mentally ill and unfit as an employee simply because he has a foot fetish, or some other completely harmless oddity. People need privacy in order to protect themselves from the harmful impact of such stupidity.

I, for one, will no go quietly into the good night.

Re:Good analogy (1)

Lucractius (649116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767609)

While I agree, the problem here is that the counterpoint to your pleas that the data should not be 'misused" is the fact that corporations are built to misuse it.

Look at the details of the article about target knowing the teen was pregnant. Think about the situation from both sides.
A certain amount of card info is required to process transactions. I want to have the convenience of a card... not exactly a huge ask in my opinion, a card is safer than keeping money in my wallet, not just from thieves but from an idle desire to spend. I can reach in and grab a $20. But i know my card has a record in my bank account, my partner can see, i can look back, i will not be able to forget that i bought *stupid shiny item* etc.
Now on Target's side. They want to maximize the effect of their advertising & customer coupons, etc. This will naturally lead to statistical modeling with the unique track-able data points they have allowing better trending. Now the down side is when they use this without asking me. That's where the problem starts.
I don't mind if Target use me as one of 500k data points in their internal modelling. At that scale my details are little more than noise. But when they start mailing coupons to me I didnt ask for because they somehow inferred my address which i didnt give them. Then I get annoyed.

The problem shouldnt be framed around what they can know. It needs to be about how they may use it without my permission. And the basic restrictions on peoples lives being used against them. Like the principles of criminals having served their time being good members of society (recidivism aside) , why should a liberal teenager who posed nude for art class be disqualified from a Teaching job in the Arts?

Re:Good analogy (4, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#39750225)

There are many cases where you'd want to give your data to online entities. Slashdot has my email address. Amazon has my physical address, which kind of helps them delivering the stuff I order from them to my doorstep. The utility company has my physical address and my bank details. And so on. Sure, you could pay everything in cash, not order anything online or set up a P.O. Box, and create dedicated email addresses and identities for every site that makes you sign up. But I'd rather not go through the trouble.

Berners-Lee has it arse-backwards, by the way: instead of promising what they won't do, companies should simply follow the law laid down in a number of European countries: if you collect data on your customers, you can only use that data for the stated purpose, and nothing else. Now, I don't mind Amazon and Google having certain data on me. As long as they play nice. Which means some additional rules:
- Don't state that you'll use my data in every which way you see fit: use it only for those purposes that I had in mind when I gave you my data.
- Don't bury your data privacy statement in 54 pages of legalese: the statement should be visible, clear, and at most half a page (I wouldn't mind that rule to be made into law...)
- Be very clear on which 3rd parties you share my data with, for what purposes (see the first rule), and under what conditions.
- You will protect my data well.
- At any time I will have the option to rescind my permission to use my data. (by the way, that does not amount to that godawfully misguided "right to be forgotten" idea. It pertains to personal data that is a shared secret between me and some company, not to public contributions I or others have made)

Of course companies could simply ignore the law and share my data anyway, but at least they'd be breaking the law and you could take them to court if you catch them at it. That is perhaps what Berners-Lee is hinting at: it'd be a lot better if data was shared under clear and enforceable agreements, and agreements that benefit the data owner, not the recipient.

Re:hmmm (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#39749435)

Isn't asking not to be eaten what a Lion Tamer does?
Sure, bring on the Siegfried & Roy remarks -- you should.

And that's exactly how it should be, Lion tamers working with the Lions and Tigers, hoping not to be eaten with casualties being the exception, NOT the rule. Else, we wouldn't have Lion Tamers.

The problem is, Internet Users are not Lion Tamers and have no way to control the actions and behavior of the Companies that collect their data. Perhaps what we need is an intermediary to be the Lion Tamer for us -- a secure and private OS and Browser that works to protect our privacy, secure and private credential systems ala OAuth that mask the identity and activity of the user.

However, that requires a party interested in creating and maintaining trust and accountability. And so far, no one's been able to make a case for profit around that and "The Powers That Be" such as the RIAA/MPAA, Google, Apple, Amazon see that as against their interest and would likely lobby hard against it, with the net result being less privacy for everyone.

Re:hmmm (1)

CSMoran (1577071) | about 2 years ago | (#39751165)

Isn't asking not to be eaten what a Lion Tamer does?

I think a lion tamer has some ad baculum arguments at his disposal, he's not asking. I meant more like a missionary asking "good animal, in the name of Jesus, spare me".

The meritum of your argument, though -- I'm not arguing with that.

Re:hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753305)

Yes, that's exactly what we are saying.

It should be noted that a lion does not eat unless it 'IS' hungry ... unlike human beings, who keep on eating just to keep themselves busy.

Multitalented (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39748017)

Inventor of the World Wide Web AND a comedian.

Re:Multitalented (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#39748415)

Don't forget Vice-President of the US and a Nobel Prize winner.

US Translation (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 2 years ago | (#39748031)

'hoover' in this context means 'vacuum', or more commonly 'suck'.

It is, however, incorrect usage to say that "subby's writing skills for an international audience really hoover'.

Re:US Translation (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about 2 years ago | (#39748045)

I'm an american, and I understood what they were getting at with the hoover reference. So did you from the sound of it. What's the problem?

Re:US Translation (1)

CSMoran (1577071) | about 2 years ago | (#39748361)

I'm an american, and I understood what they were getting at with the hoover reference. So did you from the sound of it. What's the problem?

I think the word suck is the key.

Re:US Translation (1)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39752763)

You're right. Suck is an absolutely glorious word.

Show more restraint? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#39748039)

Tim Berners-Lee is urging technology companies to 'show more restraint' in how they use the information they hoover up. ... It's not whether you can get my information, it's when you've got it, what you promise not to do with it.

That's hilarious. Oh Tim you're such a dreamer - or whatever you've been smoking must be great.

Re:Show more restraint? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748139)

While you say this sarcastically, your point is a good one: there CAN be no restraint. Maybe regionally, or for a while, but not in the larger scheme. Pass all the laws your want, the collection will just move outside your jurisdiction. Or will happen by "black" agencies of the government. There's no stopping it, EXCEPT by not giving them the data in the first place. They cannot abuse what they do not have.

Re:Show more restraint? (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767441)

There's no stopping it, EXCEPT by not giving them the data in the first place. They cannot abuse what they do not have.

Agreed... and while we may be smart/paranoid enough not to give the trackers what they want I know my friends and family are probably not that careful.

So the data is going to leak, simply demanding that it does not happen is less productive than Berners-Lee, at least (in some jurisdictions and services) users can follow TB-Ls advice and demand their (eg. facebook/gmail) data.

If there is a ground swell of demand for this kind of data it could at least prompt some restraint or rethinking by the trackers.

what i do is simple, and it works (3, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | about 2 years ago | (#39748059)

do not trust the internet, treat it like a criminal or like holding a poisonous snake, = you got learn to use the internet without letting the internet use you.

Re:what i do is simple, and it works (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39748099)

Thats like saying 'Learn to live in society without being owned by it"

Unless that society... (1)

earls (1367951) | about 2 years ago | (#39748333)

...lives on Idealist Island.

Re:what i do is simple, and it works (1)

tunapez (1161697) | about 2 years ago | (#39751253)

No, it's much like IRL: everyone is a liar, cheat and a thief until proven otherwise. You can wax whimsically about giving everyone a chance or opportunities lost and all the other fuzzy thoughts, but that does nothing to change the selfish nature of human nature. When society fosters and encourages half-truths, vacuous pitches and sociopaths who believe they deserve more(always more), what else should I expect? Integrity and restraint? Riiiiight.

Tongue in cheek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748087)

If he seriously believes such restraint will occur he would lose my respect.
How naive!

Getting creepy (5, Interesting)

bigredradio (631970) | about 2 years ago | (#39748127)

Lately, I have been noticing my "targeted" ads while surfing around the web and am getting a little creeped out. I bought a couch a few weeks back online and I am seeing ads for furniture companies all the time. If my search results and ads are tailored specifically for me, how do I get exposed to new things?

Seems like it will pigeon hole the entire internet into blues records, Linux, Old Vespa Scooters, and furniture ads. It's like having an obsessed girlfriend getting you a bunch of stuff just because you may have mentioned it one time in passing.

Creepier (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748265)

Install this on your Firefox browser. [mozilla.org] Things will look a bit creepier after that.

I'm using "TrackerBlock" [mozilla.org] and it doesn't stop it all.

Re:Creepier (2)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 2 years ago | (#39748413)

Ah, that answers my question, who's going to track the trackers?

Re:Getting creepy (4, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#39748279)

The best part is that you just bought a couch... it's not like you are going to buy another.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#39748495)

Amazon gets this wrong all the time. For example, every time I buy a hard drive, it gives ads for hard drives until I delete them all from my browsing history. I mean yeah, I'll buy more than one hard drive in a lifetime, but I probably won't buy one for at least a year or two. The same goes for pretty much any product except books and movies. You might buy spare blades for that razor or spare cutting discs for that Dremel, but you're unlikely to buy a second razor or a second Dremel, even if it is a different model of razor or Dremel. Oh, and if you bought spare blades for the razor when you bought the razor, you're not going to need spare blades for a while, either, and even when you do, you're not going to need incompatible blades for a different kind of razor. (Okay, so I think all razor blades for razor knives are universal these days, but you get my point.)

Re:Getting creepy (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 years ago | (#39748765)

You thought that was creepy? It looks like Target [slashdot.org] gets predictive cyberstalking right.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 2 years ago | (#39748681)

It's ridiculous that when I buy earbuds from amazon my eyes get repeatedly dryfucked for recommendations to buy....yep, earbuds from Amazon. Could they even try and get a little creative? An MP3 player or a tablet?

Re:Getting creepy (1)

brainzach (2032950) | about 2 years ago | (#39748829)

Amazon knows what they are doing.

When you are looking at earbuds, what you see in "customers who bought this item also bought" is more earbuds.

One word (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39756049)

Kids.

.
I know none of us have them. But, hypothetically, if we did then when we find a good cheap MP3 player it is possible we might want to buy a few more pairs of them that the kids will go through in the next few weeks or at most months.

Hypothetically [amazon.com] .

Accessories (1)

phorm (591458) | about 2 years ago | (#39749035)

Yes, but how about a matching love-seat, end-table, or coffee table?

Last time I replaced my couch, the coffee-table had to go (new couch was a recliner, but the leg-rest and coffee table had to compete on the same space).
If I'd been given an ad for a good end-table or shorter coffee-table, it might have been a sale.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#39749843)

There is furniture other than couches... The advertisers are (from long experience) betting that a) like most people you only had the scratch to upgrade/replace/purchase a single item, and b) that having done so you'll be more likely to be interested in upgrading/replacing/purchasing the balance (either on credit now, or in the future when you have the scratch). Given the low cost and higher conversion rate of targeted ads, they'd be leaving money on the table if they didn't invest something in trying to capture a couch buyer for the rest of their purchases.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39748297)

If you are indeed being inundated with furniture ads, it would seem that the companies doing the advertising missed the point: to advertise and win your business before you bought your couch. After all, unless you're obscenely rich and compulsive about having new things, it's probably going to be a few years before you buy another one!

But I suspect it's more that now that you have a thing, you're noticing other people do, too. Back when I was a kid, my Dad had the car repainted a brownish-rust colour, because he thought it was rare/unusual. But as soon as he had the paint job done, suddenly he started seeing similarly coloured vehicles all over the place.

Did the other vehicles get repainted to spite him? No, he just hadn't paid attention before.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 2 years ago | (#39751937)

The couch (chair futon to be precise) was pretty unique actually. That is why I bought it on the Internet. The funny thing is the ads are for the exact piece of furniture I bought, just being advertised by multiple resellers.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#39748399)

how do I get exposed to new things?

Amazon. Prime. Do it.

Re:Getting creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748557)

You can pay an annual fee to receive targetted ads? That's brilliant!

Re:Getting creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748455)

Seems like it will pigeon hole the entire internet into blues records, Linux, Old Vespa Scooters, and furniture ads. It's like having an obsessed girlfriend getting you a bunch of stuff just because you may have mentioned it one time in passing.

Guess why Amazon is constantly proposing new printers to me. *sigh*

Re:Getting creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748699)

If my search results and ads are tailored specifically for me, how do I get exposed to new things?

If search results are tailored specifically for you, they should occasionally throw in some stuff you don't typically look for. If you're searching for political or other controversial topics, they should be smart enough to show you high-quality articles addressing all sides of the questions. A good search engine should deliberately "pop" the filter bubble a little, because that will make it more effective and more useful.

As for ads, clearly if you're being shown furniture ads after you've bought the furniture you need, then the ad algorithms clearly still need work. They should advertise stuff you're actually looking for, or will soon be looking for.

(In this case, I wonder if perhaps you didn't see furniture ads before you bought your couch, too, but just didn't notice them because they weren't creepy then. Sort of a twisted form of confirmation bias at work -- creepiness bias, the tendency to pay attention to things that creep you out.)

Re:Getting creepy (1)

brainzach (2032950) | about 2 years ago | (#39748749)

If only these companies would have collected the data that you bought a couch and stopped looking, then you would get more relevant targeted advertising.

Re:Getting creepy - time to fix this up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748953)

Why don't we all just run a script that robotically goes various locations and dilutes the wonderfully tasty datastream that we contribute to the ether.

While the data we share by visiting places is donated automatically, the glue we enter in voluntarily is up to us. Does facebook need to know I am 35? or am I 21? or 75? All of a sudden I am feeing 120! See what ads come then!

Re:Getting creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749777)

I use the AdBlock FF addon and I rarely see ads anymore. Troubleclick, realmedia....whatever. It just doesn't show up.

NoScript helps too.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

The Raven (30575) | about 2 years ago | (#39751885)

I bought a Galaxy Nexus... so I see tons of ads for it.

Re:Getting creepy (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39754135)

Can it be? A Slashdot user who doesn't use NoScript, AdBlock, Flashblock and Ghostery? Really?

Yeah, right. Restraint. (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 2 years ago | (#39748131)

He might actually be able to convince a few people today, while most of the industry players are still run by their founders.

However, a day will come when the new media companies are a few management generations removed from that, and are just sociopathic earnings machines like every other corporation. Expecting them to show "restraint" that doesn't help their own bottom line at that point is just naieve.

So perhaps even if they do show restraint now, that just postphones the problem and luls the rest of us into a false sense of security.

Promises ( Score: +4, Seditious ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748141)

, promises....... ( sing along with me ) ! ...

mean NOTHING. ( see Politician )

Yours In Ulyanovsk,
K. Trout, PatRIOT

Truly out-of-the-loop is Berners-Lee (1, Offtopic)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 2 years ago | (#39748181)

Great comments on this one, and obviously Berners-Lee hasn't been paying attention and is waaaaay out of touch.

America and the UK are total surveillance states at this point, and that's not debatable.

EPIC GREED: The Social Singularity Has Been Achieved

Some years back, a poster or commenter in the United Kingdom named Dan, suggested that the social singularity had been achieved, that the economic elites had become so powerful, and their power wielded so subtly and covertly, that few realized just how easily the populace was being manipulated.

A peek behind the curtain, at the inner working of the Koch brothers, their astroturfing, their political and media manipulation, was long in coming; from their Liberty Lobby reaching widespread circulation in 1960, to the present, is a very lengthy period. Little traction was achieved when, at the beginning of the Bush administration, we tried to publicize that President Bush’s sister was Mrs. Koch, and that Dick Cheney’s godson, D.G. Gribbin IV, was a Koch company employee, and the Kochs aren’t even at the top of the power pyramid!

Today we are assaulted by the usual political theater on taxes; the so-called media babbling about a “broken tax code” --- obfuscating the obvious truth of a tax code designed to favor the super-rich while discriminating against the workers and the poor.

When the IRS tax rule 401(a)(5) states: “A classification shall not be considered discriminatory merely because it is limited to salaries or clerical employees” --- the intent should be obvious.

When private equity firms – private banks such as Fortress and the Blackstone Group – go public, yet continue to pay the lower capital gains tax rate (when they do actually pay taxes), instead of the higher corporate tax rate which they should be paying, the absolute corruption should be obvious.

Confused and ignorant people, people who are used to being classified as “consumers” and are bewildered as to what true citizenship means, sincerely believe themselves to be team members, either on the Blue Team (the democratic wing of the Bankster Party) or the Red Team (the republican wing of the Bankster Party) --- wallowing within the political theater of the absurd!

When several economists from Goldman Sachs were quoted in a New York Times article (Aug. 28, 2006) explaining the obvious:

The most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor’s share of national income

they were blithely repeating the number one commandment and strategy of the plutocrats, or the Transnational Capitalist Class; namely, absolute wealth transfer so they could realize the greatest concentration of wealth imaginable!

What has occurred with each successful presidential administration since Reagan?

Has economic inequality and the concentration of wealth decreased or increased during each administration, from Reagan to Obama’s?

Increased ! ! !

What is the oldest and largest private bank in America?

Brown Brothers Harriman.

Someone connected with them has been in a senior power position in America for thirty-some years: either a Bush in the presidency or vice-presidency (effectively the presidency under Reagan), or Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve.

And where did Brown Brothers’ wealth originate from prior to their merger with Harriman?

Slavery and the slave trade, of course.

Harriman was responsible for bringing over boatloads of Chinese scab workers during the late 1800s and early 1900s to undercut the American gandy dancers (white, black, Japanese and immigrant gandy dancers), working the majority of them (the Chinese workers) literally to death!

Today, they offshore jobs to China, offshore technology to China and offshore investment (and foreign aid) to China --- and still bring over Chinese scab workers ---- now that’s progress!

Few comprehend the financial power and connections between JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, Brown Brothers Harriman, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Rockefeller Financial Services, etc. (and the oil companies, biopharmaceutical companies and weapons makers they own).

Only a few Americans comprehend the total surveillance state America is today; for few have both the time and resources to keep current, or aren’t technically astute enough to understand EPs or IXPs, Narus boxes, MASINT, Unit 8200, NDA NXX NPA, IMSI, etc.

Today, 99% of economists, or pseudo-economists, are paid to simply serve as apologists for differential income inside a system of arbitrary and functionless ownership.

Thorstein Veblen once remarked, “There are no iron economic laws; there are only man-made institutions.”

Veblen explained what economic surplus was, and how the economic elites routinely steal it and destroy it --- the ultimate amoral wealth transfer!

(Whenever a brilliant and honest analysis by Prof. Michael Hudson is posted generally on the Web, a chatbot --- automated software --- is programmed to counterpost that he’s a “kook.”)

Empires are not about the efficient use of resources and the spread of happiness.

Empires are about epic greed!

USA, Step 1: Change Bankruptcy Law (4, Interesting)

cmholm (69081) | about 2 years ago | (#39748295)

In the good ol' US of A, a company can bend over backwards to in fact do no evil with the personal data they collect. But, if they go Chapter 7 bankruptcy (the full monty), the court is under no obligation to care. They view marketable data as just another asset to be sold off to satisfy creditors... even Scientology [wikipedia.org] .

Given the current Congress, I think the easiest (but by no means best) first step towards better privacy protection would be some tweaks to Title 11 of the United States Code [wikipedia.org] .

Re:USA, Step 1: Change Bankruptcy Law (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#39748787)

In the good ol' US of A, a company can bend over backwards to in fact do no evil with the personal data they collect. But, if they go Chapter 7 bankruptcy (the full monty), the court is under no obligation to care.

Are you sure? It seems like whoever ends up with the data would still be bound by the agreements under which it was obtained, in this case the relevant privacy policy. I suppose if the privacy policy allows changing the terms, the new owner could just publish a new "I will be evil with your data" policy. Google's policy, at least, explicitly does not allow the terms to be changed in that way:

From http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/ [google.com] : "Our Privacy Policy may change from time to time. We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent."

But maybe none of that matters when the assets get allocated by the bankruptcy court. IANAL and don't really know.

Re:USA, Step 1: Change Bankruptcy Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39750475)

That doesn't really prove your point, since the Google creeps can change the privacy policy at any time and they already have *your* data. I blame the Vic Gundotra and David Drummond assholes for this.

--
Fuck Sundar Pichai in the ass!

Re:USA, Step 1: Change Bankruptcy Law (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#39751439)

That doesn't really prove your point, since the Google creeps can change the privacy policy at any time

No, they can't. That's exactly the point. If they changed it in a way that violated their previous privacy policy commitments, Google would be in breach of contract. It would generate a huge class action suit, and probably significant punitive action from the DoJ. That's why it's really rare to find statements in policies about what the future policy may or may not be, because it limits freedom to change it. Even if someone bought Google, the new owner would inherit all of Google's legal commitments, including the commitment to the statement I quoted.

What I really don't know at all is whether or not passing the assets through a bankruptcy court changes any of it. It seems like legal obligations related to assets should go along with the assets, but I do know that bankruptcy judges can do all sorts of things that seem really wrong.

Re:USA, Step 1: Change Bankruptcy Law (1)

cmholm (69081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39752513)

IANAL, but based on what we've seen in major news items over the last couple of years, I'm sure.

When a company goes Chapter 13 (reorg), most existing contracts go out the window: labor, suppliers, customers. Privacy policies not affected unless it had a material effect on the reorg.

When a company goes Chapter 7 (liquidation), all contracts, policies, and representations go out the door. The judge and his/her proxies have unlimited leeway to sell off anything, nailed down or not, to satisfy the creditors.

Yeah right. (2)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39748321)

You'll have better luck telling a fat kid to show restraint at a buffet.

Clearly Words Are Working (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | about 2 years ago | (#39748359)

I think the time for "telling" (really "suggesting") ended years ago. And more and more it's looking like the time for acting has passed us by.

The other half of the conversation (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#39748431)

Tim Berners-Lee: "Please show restraint with everyone's personal data."
Shareholders: "Please find a way to monetize everyone's personal data as quickly as possible to increase our share price."

Guess which one the CEO is going to listen to?

Re:The other half of the conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748573)

Guess which one the CEO is going to listen to?

The one with the biggest boobs?

Re:The other half of the conversation (1)

javelinco (652113) | about 2 years ago | (#39748867)

More importantly, if the CEO listens to Tim Berners-Lee, who is to say he won't be replaced, now or in the future, with someone else that will listen to the shareholders instead?

Fact is, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly more hostile to those who want their information to remain their own. And so far, I have yet to hear a good solution. Perhaps a lot of different things will work together to safeguard privacy, but I don't see it yet. This suggestion isn't worth the paper it wasn't printed on.

Re:The other half of the conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39753283)

Guess which one the CEO is going to listen to?

At least in the case of Google, the CEO will listen to whoever he likes. Neither Tim Berners-Lee nor the shareholders have any power over him, though I think he has more respect for Berners-Lee.

Somewhat easier with corporations (4, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#39748445)

I've had good success with my clients and their developers limiting the data they keep by focusing on their potential legal liability should the data leak (internal or external) and/or be misused. The less data you have, and the less sensitive that data, the lower the cost of any data leak.

As Mr Miyagi said "Best defense, no be there."

And while storage is cheap, there is a cost to maintaining data, and that's not insignificant. Keep only what you need, or it's probable that you'll need. Throw everything else away.

When dealing with governments, or corrupt individuals/companies, those arguments may not work as well.

data sold in bankruptcy liquidation (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#39748523)

in the past it would have been just a customer list. but a lot more now. the new owners may have different intentions. imagine what tottering yahoo must have.

Use Tor, Use SSL, surf with delight! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748501)

""Your browsing behavior may reveal more personal information than you'd tell your own mother. Which is why Tim Berners-Lee is urging technology companies to 'show more restraint' in how they use the information they hoover up."

Use Tor. All I am to these websites is just another exit node up one day and down the next.

Use SSL during Tor sessions, the exit nodes are free to sniff my encrypted traffic.

With The Tor Browser Bundles, it's easier than ever to download, install, configure, and use Tor.

Everyone should do it.

Say NO to the Google creeps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39748543)

After seeing what utter assholes like Vic Gundotra have planned for future Google products I'm not touching another Google url with a 10ft pole. I care about my privacy so I block FB and Google with noscript and ghostery.

--
Fuck Sundar Pichai in the ass!

Crack Babies (4, Interesting)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 2 years ago | (#39748545)

Call me Luddite, call me an old fogey, hell, call me Aunt Mable and dress me up in a nice billowy dress. What has happened here is we have a generation of internet crack babies. We all know there is no chance in hell that everything we do on the internet, and on our nifty phones is not databased for sale and control of us. The issue is that we (as a group) simply can not put down the crack pipe. We wont. We dont care if you strip us down and shove a data tracker striaght up our ass, just give me more internet. And dont bogart the bandwidth. The answer is to abstain. The reality is we are way too far down this addiction to stop.

Re:Crack Babies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39749743)

When the UN considers the internet a human right and yet another utility, you have to realise it's no longer a 'crack pipe' but a public necessity.

The Power companies are already eating into your privacy too, go look up the dangers of smart meters, it's NOT just the internet here. We need new privacy laws.

 

Re:Crack Babies (1)

RogueLeaderX (845092) | about 2 years ago | (#39750015)

Worry not, citizen, these technologies are only used to catch criminals!

Re:Crack Babies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39752393)

I know you're only being sarcastic, but the real issue is, in the UK the law for terrorism is already being abused by local councils spying on dog owners for not picking up after them, or monitoring parents of schoolkids, to see if they live in the school catchment zones. These are NOT terrorism offenses, and the councils should forfeit powers if they abuse them like that. But this is the UK we're talking about here, a country which voted Liebour THREE times! the retards^H^H sheep had it coming.

Re:Crack Babies (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#39749897)

I love how you're posting this on the internet. Maybe follow your own advice and we'll listen. It's called "practicing what you preach." It's one of the reasons that climate change activists like Al Gore are taken so seriously.

Re:Crack Babies (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 2 years ago | (#39753199)

We dont care if you strip us down and shove a data tracker striaght up our ass, just give me more internet.

Umm, I think people actually would care, if they realized what was going on. Outside of Slashdot and other (reasonably) paranoid communities, few people realize the extent to which they are tracked.

If your web browser had a giant banner that appeared for every cookie, third-party script, random third-party request, etc. that was going on for most websites, I'd bet people would care, because they would actually know what's going on.

To most people, however, this is invisible. They can't be outraged if they don't understand the magnitude of the problem.

Re:Crack Babies (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767583)

more internet. And dont bogart the bandwidth. The answer is to abstain. The reality is we are way too far down this addiction to stop.

I like your style but asking people to abstain from the greatest information resource humanity has ever created ... I can't get behind that.

You're going to have far better luck... (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 2 years ago | (#39750653)

...if you assume everyone's an asshole, and work out your expectations from that, than to assume people are reasonable, intelligent, and caring and go from there.

Sorry, it's why the US Constitution has been largely a success - it assumed politicians are greedy, selfish, power-hungry bastards. Our fault if we couldn't follow what it told us and let them take more power anyway.

restraint ? (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#39750971)

Bwuahahaha...

Sorry... allow me... I'll just need a minute...

Seriously? Asking for restraint? Tim, you are talking to corporations as if they were human beings. Now this might be news, but they aren't. A corporation does not have morals, values, ethics or anything like it. They sometimes fool us into believing they have, because we interact with them through humans (CEO, employees, etc.) or something made up to appear human (advertisement, PR spokesmen, marketing people in general), but the simple fact remains that they aren't.

A shark will always be a shark, and a rabbit can't help being a rabbit - and corporations are corporations. Don't confuse them for humans, don't treat them like humans, don't anthropomorphise them.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?