Monday, May 23, 2011

Wall St. Journal Reporter Takes Heat for Helping Us Know What They Know

For years now, tech entrepreneurs have been telling us not to worry about the information we upload to their sites, and advertisers have tried to assure us that they were collecting only that information that's necessary for them. In fact, we've been told that giving them all kinds of information is actually a *good* thing. That for the advertisers, giving us better targeted ads really helps us make better purchasing decisions. As for the entrepreneurs: well, all that data they collect on us helps them to earn money and keep providing us with services. Yet, many consumers and site participants (as well as gadget purchasers) don't quite know what sort of information is being gathered daily, with every click, as well as not knowing who's using that data and why....

That's why the "What They Know" series in the Wall Street Journal is really something of a public service.

Let's face it, being forthcoming about people's personal data, and what's being done with it, isn't necessarily in the best interest of those collecting it (and, if the companies are privately owned, they don't have to disclose a darned thing about what they collect.) And that's in part why WSJ reporter Julia Angwin was given a bit of shite about the series at the recent pii2011 conference.

I have steadfastly maintained that, often, the debates and discussions that go on at insider tech conferences (most of them are for "insiders") are important for anyone who uses the Internet to know about. Yet we rarely, if ever, hear about these discussions. Had more of the general populace known about some of the statements made regarding privacy--such as how "kids" don't care about online privacy and gladly give up information for nothing--there might have been more concerned voices raised well before 2011.

Groups are now feeling the heat, and are lashing out against the journalism that reported it.

It just figures.

Also check out FTC details mobile app privacy concerns on last week's hearings. There is strong concern for the amount of info collected from mobile devices IF the mobile device is in the hands of a person defined by law as a child. Some of the data collected could violate FTC regs on marketing to children...just sayin'....