Weekly round-up [01/29/10]: Data Privacy!

By | January 29, 2010

So I’ve been a little lax on my “weekly” reading round-ups, but slowly trying to get back in the swing of balancing out intake to output.

As many of you know, Thursday was Data Privacy Day.

  • Google released a video and written listing of its privacy principles, explaining how it uses its user data.
  • Speaking of privacy and google, a recent CNN piece by Bruce Schneier reveals that Chinese hackers were aided by US government policy
  • And of course, we can’t talk data privacy without talking Facebook, who posted 5 key privacy tips. Which is nice and all, but just another consolation prize in a long line of Facebook v. your data.
  • Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb write about Facebook’s history with privacy with a distinctly positive view of the long-term implications. While I see his point, I remain somewhat discomforted not because of privacy, but because of ownership of my data.
  • An article from 2005 on CNET by Kimber Spradlin comparing privacy legislation in the US and Europe is interesting in this context. Although she focuses on commerce and security issues, she does note that in Europe, individual data can be loaned for use by companies, but ultimately is owned by the individual, an attitude that isn’t prevalent in the US. It brings me back to a point that I think always bears repeating, which is that “privacy” violations are often more about use and ownership than wanting to keep information locked away, about who has rights to profit from our information, and what control we have over that.

I’ve kind of avoided talking about the Ipad (which, I know it’s been pointed out ad nauseum by now, but . . . that’s what you decided to call it?). New technology is cool, but what I care more about is the technological use side of things. I want to see what happens once the new gadget has been incorporated into our lives and cultures, what standing needs it fulfills (and what new ones it brings to surface). But I did enjoy Annalee Newitz’s i09 piece about Apple’s Crap Futurism, which gets to the point of why I find the ipad so lackluster. For something that I think many of us fantasized about as a sort of sci-fi future artifact — something that would come in handy as we stage a guerilla resistence in the face of a fascist dystopia built on the rubble of the world is once knew — it just doesn’t seem all that useful. But again, we’ll see. Technology alone doesn’t change how we think. How we think about technology — its role, its capacities, its uses — is what moves us forward.

And, oh yeah! Jürgen Habermas, social theorist and communications guru before the time of gurus, now apparently has a twitter account. I can’t decide if it’s more awesome if it’s actually him or someone pretending to be him. Either way, I can’t believe it took so long.

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