MikeatWired writes "Jon Udell writes that when was recently discovered that some iPhone apps were uploading users’ contacts to the cloud, one proposed remedy was to modify iOS to require explicit user approval. But in one typical scenario that’s not a choice a user should have to make. A social service that uses contacts to find which of a new user’s friends are already members doesn’t need cleartext email addresses. If I upload hashes of my contacts, and you upload hashes of yours, the service can match hashes without knowing the email addresses from which they’re derived. In the post Hashing for privacy in social apps, Matt Gemmell shows how it can be done. Why wasn’t it? Not for nefarious reasons, Gemmell says, but rather because developers simply weren’t aware of the option to uses hashes as a proxy for email addresses. A translucent solution encrypts the sensitive data so that it is hidden even from the operator of the service, while yet enabling the two parties (parents, babysitters) to rendezvous. How many applications can benefit from translucency? We won’t know until we start looking. The translucent approach doesn’t lie along the path of least resistance, though. It takes creative thinking and hard work to craft applications that don’t unnecessarily require users to disclose, or services to store, personal data. But if you can solve a problem in a translucent way, you should. We can all live without more of those headlines and apologies."
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