February 4th, 2004

classic beard

excess cynicism

Quoting the privacy policy of a popular social networking system:

"We use industry standard security measures to protect your information so that it is not made available to unauthorized parties."

My first thought: "industry standard" these days means "MyDoom.A is fighting with Seti@home for cycles".

At least they're clear about some of the dangers:

"As with any social networking service, you should use care when disclosing your personal information to strangers."

Too bad the users seem to be split between people who don't get that, and people who make random things up instead. See also Cory Doctorow on why intentional metadata is doomed; compare my job with GeoURL for an example of how NLP tech improvements are continuing to win against user-supplied metadata. Think about how many of these relations could be auto-discovered by sufficient processing of existing data - and if you think they wouldn't be, why not, and why are you choosing to change that?

Consider also how usefully this might tie into some of the CDC's projects, especially when you are reminded that they may, perfectly reasonably, "disclose your personal information and the contents of your account if required to do so by law or in a good faith belief that such access preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to comply with legal process". And of course, if you're an American and think "that's ok, it's our guys after all" remember that "by using this site, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country" to their facilities elsewhere - dealing with one company doesn't mean dealing with one jurisdiction.

If you're not as cynical about this as I am, ponder why you aren't.

Good night, sleep well...
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