As we roll into our 14th year here at Managed Solutions taking stock of the last 14 years many trends have dominated our priority list. In 2010 the focus was extending the life of under-maintained hardware, Cloud Computing and Security. Signs are pointing to privacy being a very relevant issue for 2011. The Wall Street Journal really started the ball rolling with their privacy series in 2010. That really set the tone with many consumers learning and becoming much more concerned about their data privacy. Also it seems like everywhere you looked in 2010 Facebook was being criticized for their at times what appeared to be utter contempt for the privacy of their users. See also “Frustrated by the new Facebook groups? So am I, and something you can do.” on amplify for some additional discussion on that.
Photo credit Opensourceway, Creative Commons
Spokeo.com got “spinsucked”
Gini Dietrich posted a great article this week that struck a chord with the readers. It’s been viewed, shared and commented on heavily since it came out. The post was about “Deleting Your Spokeo Profile” and it detailed what information could be found on Spokeo.com and how to delete the profile. I thought based on the comments that it was worthy of a screencast so I recorded it and shared it with Gini. You can view it on Youtube. At one point Spokeo was not able to process requests, so I joked with her on her blog that there is a new /. in town and that spokeo had gotten “spinsucked” so henceforth that will be my story, and I will stick to it.
As further proof that this issue really resonated with many of us, I had one person completely disconnected from the matter ask me on Facebook last night if I had “heard of Spokeo” at that point I realized this was really circulating far and wide.
Learning from the debate
Some debates did come up over the spinsucks post, here were the opposition arguments to removing your profile from spokeo:
- There are many other sites that mirror the same data
- They are probably harvesting the required email address to sell
- The information is public domain only, readily available
One less site is better
In response to argument #1, one less site is certainly better is it not? Not to mention Spokeo actually did a bang up job of getting a lot more data than other sites seem to have to offer. I’d rather not be listed there.
Avoid the harvest
Avoiding the email harvesting concept is easy, you should use either an alias that can be tracked and later deleted or a “junk” email that is only checked in these circumstances.
The information is public domain only
I don’t think this is the case, it appears that Spokeo has found or paid for some really unique data or at least their paid for service touts that. If it is all public domain it’s usually not in one place. If someone is going to go after it, let’s make them work for it, does that sound like a decent strategy?
What does it mean?
I think these developments solidify the position that 2011 is the year of privacy, why? We know now, and we care, and we’re reading and watching and opting out to the tune of disabling a website. Our current privacy laws are not reacting fast enough for the changes in this digital world. This disparity is creating a vacuum that will be filled one way or another.
What happen’s next? Predictions
So the question is do the companies that are gathering this information and making it available cave from the pressure cooker that is likely to develop from consumers this year? Does the government step in and pass new privacy legislation more geared to our digital and interconnected age? Or does a group of entrepreneurs put together a service that opts out and erases data that can be masked, opts you out of junk mail and create an opportunistic menu of other privacy features?
I’ll be talking privacy a lot more this year and making it a priority to educate and discuss both here on Managed Solutions and also on my blog. Please join the conversation and share your thoughts. The most compelling comments will be added to the post and the authors cited. Or perhaps you’d like to guest post about this, if so please contact me.