Archive for the ‘invasion of privacy’ tag
If Twitter were to turn over the user’s identity at the first request, it could be liable for any mistake or potential invasion of privacy, according to Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties for Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. Read more » about NYPD Battles Twitter for Identity of User Promising Violence 'Just Like in Aurora'
How about this? People trust grocery stores more than they trust Facebook with their personal data. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “now that’s funny, right there.”
This revelation comes from a poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Placecast. Placecast is in the location-based, mobile messaging market, so they’ve got a little stake in the outcome of this report, but nothing to be suspicious about.
Here’s how it shakes out. Placecast has been doing a series of studies under the umbrella of The Alert Shopper. Their goal is to find out how shoppers feel about different kinds of marketing. In this, their third time out, they asked folks to think about their privacy as it relates to personal data for promotional purposes.
At the high end of the trust meter, we have grocery stores. 81% of people were comfortable giving personal information (like signing up for a loyalty card) in order to get customized coupons and deals.
Amazon also fared pretty well. 66% of people were fine with Amazon using their browser and purchase history to suggest items you might like to purchase.
It gets pretty murky after that.
Shoppers did not like it when credit card companies, merchants or cell phone companies used data to send out promotional material by mail, email or text. But getting spammed by your credit card company still ranked higher than Facebook, the poster child for invasion of privacy.
Only 33% of people said they were comfortable with Facebook using their profile information to target ads. The lowest marks on the whole survey. Seriously people? Let’s think this through.
Now, I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but I think they’re getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop here. Grocery stores, I get. Sign up once with your email and phone number and you save money on things you need. That’s a good trade. But Amazon? They’re using your data to push more products on you. And Google? How is Google using your search history to target ads any different than what Facebook is doing?
I’ll answer my own question, because Facebook is personal. It’s a place where we house our daily thoughts, photos, our triumphs and even our failures. It feels strange to think of Facebook’s little mice gathering up that info in order to pitch products and services. I post that I’m in the market for a new home and suddenly I’m seeing ads for real estate agents. I post that I got a raise and now it’s investment options. I post a wild night in Vegas and ads for a rehab center show up in my sidebar.
Okay, I’m exaggerating, (maybe), but that’s what it feels like. And that’s why people are uncomfortable with Facebook doing what Google does and does well.
The point for marketers? That once again, Facebook ads might not be the way to go. People clearly don’t trust them. From this report we could go so far as to say the distrust them and by association, distrust your company.
What do you think? Is that too far a leap? Is the lack of faith folks have in Facebook’s ability to keep their data private a problem for marketers? Or is Facebook advertising worth the risk?
There’s something very cool about Google Now, which the company announced at its I/O developer conference a few weeks ago. At the same time, though, Now also has the potential to become Google’s creepiest service yet. Here is what it does (assuming you opt in to the service and have a phone or tablet that runs Jelly Bean): Google Now learns from your search behavior and shows you cards with information you regularly search for (think game scores of your favorite teams, flight schedules) or that could be relevant to you because of your current location, including weather, nearby restaurants, schedules for the next bus station, how long it’s going to take you to drive home and currency information if it finds you are in a different country. It also uses a whimsical theme to highlight the time of day and where you are (it showed an image of Sydney’s Opera House, for example, when I was there a few weeks ago).
All of this could easily scream “invasion of privacy.” After all, this is one of the few Google services that really reveal how much the company really knows about you. The reason why it doesn’t quite feel like that yet is because of the limitations of the service. There is so much more Google could do with this service, but it almost feels as if Google deliberately kept some features back for the time being to ensure that users (or at least those few lucky ones who have access to a Jelly Bean device) can get used to how it works before adding more tools.
“Just the right information at just the right time.”
Google says Google Now is meant to give you “just the right information at just the right time.” Having used it pretty intensively both at home and on the road for the last three weeks, I’m happy to report that it works pretty well. When I’m at a bus stop, it will show me when the next bus is supposed to arrive. When I was out of the country, it would automatically show me what time it was at home and the latest currency exchange rate. Back at home, it quickly learned where “home” actually was (it did ask me to confirm this information just to make sure, though) and would then always show me how long the drive home would be whenever I was more than a few miles away.
It culls its data from all of your Google searches, no matter where you search (as long as you are logged in to your Google account). After a local search (say for a restaurant or airport), for example, it will start showing you a card with the current driving time to those locations. Do a flight search on Google to see if your flight is still on time and it will start showing you that info in Google Now, too.
When you opt in to using the service, Google says Now says that it will access your location data and your location history. The service also “uses data from other sources, such as your data in Google products or in third-party products that you allow Google Now to access. For example, your tablet’s synced calendar may include entries from non-Google calendar products.” Currently, though, it seems like the service most relies on search data and access to your calendar.
Despite everything that works well, though, Now can also be clunky at times. For no apparent reason, for example, it often decided to show me directions and travel times to local restaurants I searched for weeks before Google Now was even available. Unless you use Google instead of Flightstats or other tools to search for flight delays, it will never show you any flight information and because Google Search doesn’t let you search for flight numbers and dates at the same time, it will always show you information for the current date, even if your flight is still a day or two out.
Still A Few Features Shy Of Being Creepy
It’s easy to imagine a few scenarios where Google could do even more with your data. What if Google Now could look at your email inbox, for example, and automatically detect flight itineraries, hotel reservations and OpenTable confirmations and then use this data to give you more specific information on the Google Now screen without having to first search for it? There are no technical reasons why Google couldn’t do this. TripIt, WorldMate and others already do some of this with emails you send them, for example.
That’s apparently a line that Google isn’t ready to cross yet, though. People would likely freak out if Google decided to analyze their individual emails for Google Now, though it obviously already takes a close look at your inbox to target ads anyway. For many, it will already be creepy enough to see what Google can learn about your daily habits based on your search and location history. For now, though, Google has decided to err on the safe side and with just about a dozen different Google Now cards, it’s a pretty limited service that, despite its promise, doesn’t always offer you “just the right information, at just the right time” (most of the time it just shows the weather card anyway). As Google expands the service, though, it’ll be interesting to watch how long it will take before it starts pushing things a bit too far.
The Do Not Track legislation introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) has picked up considerable steam since its debut in Congress last February and has inspired a furor of similar bills ready to clog (or already clogging) Congress. Speier and privacy groups supporting the bill say that tracking consumers’ online behavior is an invasion of privacy. Speier’s proposal would give the FTC power to create a Do Not Track database so consumers could opt out of online tracking.
On the other side of the debate are the behavioral advertising firms and publishers who say that, while protecting consumer privacy is of utmost importance, tracking helps serve targeted ads to consumers who might be interested, and regulating such tracking could suppress innovation and perhaps even kill online advertising.
So, Congress, before considering Speier’s bill and diving headfirst into government regulation, let’s take a look at some other options that will achieve the same consumer privacy results without strangling online advertising. Specifically, these options include transparency from advertisers, proper technology tools, and consumer participation in managing relationships with the businesses they frequent.
Transparency, Data Hygiene, and Technology
“Business transparency” is a buzzword that transcends industries — and for good reason: It’s a key component in developing trust. In digital marketing, adopting transparent business practices is the best way for companies to protect their brand and their business, while also ensuring consumer privacy is maintained. It is also in the best interest of advertisers and data brokers to be transparent about how they collect consumer data and what they intend to do with it. Take a look at recent TRUSTe’s Privacy Index findings, which serve as a warning to digital marketers and advertisers: Eighty-eight percent of U.S. adults say they avoid doing business with companies that do not protect their privacy.
Of course, marketers and advertisers will only want to be transparent if their data (consumer information) is “clean;” that is, permission-based and accurate. They can start by outsourcing to only trustworthy list-rental vendors that offer permission-based lists, so recipients will be those who have “opted in” to receive advertisements and offers.
Technology, too, can play a crucial role here. Savvy digital marketers use technology that helps target specific demographics, while also ensuring opt-out preferences are heeded. Tools from other companies that remove bad or invalid e-mail addresses or non-permissioned addresses and spam traps can augment that technology. (And advertisers using this technology get the added bonus of more targeted results.) Aside from sidestepping privacy issues, making sure records are clean before you execute a campaign means a higher level of in-box delivery and increased open-and-click rates.
The Consumer’s Role
Many supporting Speier’s bill fail to recognize how easy it is for consumers to opt out of receiving unsolicited email. It’s simply a one-click process and requires nothing more than an email address to complete. Furthermore, it’s regulated: Under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, consumer opt-out requests must be honored within 10 days or the offending company could face criminal and/or civil charges.
With this consumer buy-in to take responsibility for opting out, as well as proper technology tools and transparency among advertisers and data brokers, we can effectively self-regulate and continue to reap the rewards online advertising affords all parties.
David Fowler is chief privacy officer of lead-generation platform maker Marketfish.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Google’s Street View is a very helpful tool when you’re driving to a place you’ve never visited before. But what are we willing to give up in return for the convenience? No one wants to pay in cash for the service, so how about you turn over your web history and email instead?
More than a year ago, the FCC began an investigation about the data collected by Google’s Street View teams. It was learned that in addition to photographing an area, the happy little cars also scooped up data from unprotected wireless networks.
Google has never denied the data collection, but they have had a variety of explanations. According to a report in the LA Times, Google first went with the theory that an “unauthorized engineer” put the plan in motion without permission from the company. The data was collected but no one did anything with it.
Not so, says a recently released report by the FCC. They quote the engineer who worked on the project as saying,
“We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.”
Google then said that yes, they collected the data but it was all perfectly legal. No problem then, said the FCC, let us see the data.
Google refused and the FCC hit them with a $25,000 fine for obstructing their inquiry.
Overall, the FCC report makes it pretty clear that many people at Google HQ new about the data collection but sidestepped the privacy concerns for a variety of reasons. One manager even said he pre-approved the proposal before it had been written, so he was unaware of the issues. Cause, yeah, that’s a great excuse for invasion of privacy — I signed off on a blank document.
In the end, Google got off easy with a light (for them) fine and a black-eye that is already fading. But the question remains, how much of our privacy are we willing to give up in order to get better online tools, more targeted advertising and more relevant search results?
As a marketer, you’re the person most likely to benefit from this kind of information gathering. Given that, do you think it’s okay for Google, or any company, to scoop up and review data from individuals without their permission? Or does privacy trump everything, especially profits?
Wednesday, Google announced the release of Account Activity, a new cross-product report that users can sign-up for to receive account insights on a monthly basis.
The Account Activity report summarizes the data associated with each of the Google products you use, and will include email stats, total and top web queries, places visited (if you use Latitude), YouTube video views, account sign-ins, and so forth.
The new account insights feature comes just weeks after Google combined all 60 of its product privacy policies into a single policy applying to all services. The new policy, enacted on March 1, attracted widespread criticism because it allows the search giant to combine user data across all of its services, a liberty some deemed an invasion of privacy.
While the Account Activity report will likely do little to calm those fears, the new tool does demonstrate that pooling data across products can be used for good. Because the report includes information on where and how Google products are logged into each month, for instance, it could help you thwart account breaches. “If you notice sign-ins from countries where you haven’t been or devices you’ve never owned, you can change your password immediately and sign up for the extra level of security provided,” product manager Andreas Tuerk explained.
Then again, given that the report summarizes your monthly browsing and email history, some may find it scary a reminder that Google is always watching or simply be alarmed at their own Internet behaviors. For the latter group, you can take a little comfortable in the knowledge that you can delete the reports at any time.
Photo credit: maistora/Flickr
Filed under: VentureBeat
The ruling against Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on his roommate Tyler Clementi, provides stern warnings regarding the punishment for bullying by young people and the prosecution of hate crimes. Clementi committed suicide after Ravi activated his computer’s video-chat device while his roommate, who was gay, was engaged in a sexual encounter. Then Ravi went on to talk about it on Twitter. He was not charged with causing Clementi’s death, but was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, and tampering with a witness evidence, and could serve up to 10 years in prison. We’ll deconstruct the case against Dharun Ravi and discuss its implications for the future of hate crimes law, cyber law and bullying with Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law and CIS Affiliate Scholar and Suzanne Goldberg of Columbia School of Law. Read more » about Hate Crimes, CyberBullying & The Rutgers Spy Cam Case
A class-action lawsuit was filed against 18 high-profile mobile application companies this week, resulting out of recent reports that many apps “steal” users’ address books.
The 13 individuals are bringing Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Beluga, Yelp, Burbn, Instagram, Foursquare, Gowalla, Foodspotting, Hipster, LinkedIn, Rovio, ZeptoLab, Chillingo, Electronic Arts, and Kik Interactive to court in Texas. In February, it was uncovered that these companies actively access a user’s mobile address book and transfer it to their servers. Most said this was done to provide users better friend-recommendations based on who they already knew. Without clearly stating this intention, however, the companies were violating users’ privacy rights.
“The defendants—several of the world’s largest and most influential technology and social networking companies—have unfortunately made, distributed and sold mobile software applications (“Apps”) that, once installed on a wireless mobile device, surreptitiously harvest, upload and illegally steal the owner’s address book data without the owner’s knowledge or consent,” the plaintiffs say in the filing.
The group alleges that these companies committed negligence, invasion of privacy, theft under the Texas Theft Liability Act, fraud, aiding and abetting (in the case of Apple), violated the Texas Wiretap Act, and more.
At the time these reports surfaced, Apple, which distributes mobile applications through its App Store, said the companies in question were in violation of its privacy policies. Specifically the apps violated guideline 7.1 that states, “Apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user’s prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used.”
Despite the agreement, Apple is named in this suit with 11 out of the 13 plaintiffs owning iPhones. The filing quotes Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as saying Apple should have control over apps in the App Store to provide “freedom from programs that steal your private data [and] freedom from programs that trash your battery.”
The damages claimed include loss of privacy, diminution of address book data value, loss of mobile device computing, processing and battery life while the address books were being transferred, out of pocket expenses and more. To repay these damages, the group is suing for $12,000 or more from each offending company, as well as any profits made from the use of the address books.
Check out the filing below:
73% of people in a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project survey said they would not be okay with a search engine tracking their moves and using them to deliver better results in the future.
Bet that number didn’t surprise you at all, did it? You also won’t be surprised to know that they thought tracking was an invasion of privacy.
65% even went so far as to say that search result collection is a bad thing. A very bad thing. Which kind of takes us into Twilight Zone territory. It’s the story of a small search engine that slowly and secretively collects information from everyone in the world until it becomes powerful enough to destroy all humans! Only then, it realizes that without humans, it has no purpose and dies from the lack of being needed.
Overly dramatic? Well, that’s how I feel about these people who get upset over Internet tracking.
29% of people have seen the light (or drunk the Kool-Aid, depending on your point of view.) They understand that tracking is a good thing because it helps return more relevant results.
The problem is that most people don’t know about what’s working for them behind the scenes. They have no idea what’s being tracked or how, or how that information figures into their results.
What they do know, is that they get good results. 91% said they find what they’re looking for always or most of the time. 73% say they trust the information they find and 55% say that the quality of search returns has risen.
It’s risen because we do track. Because search engines are smarter and it’s the user who benefits in the end. Less time spent searching, means less frustration, could mean getting a better deal on a product. More relevant results could mean the difference between life or death. Think I’m still being dramatic?
In 2010, 175 million people went online to look up healthcare information. 32% of those surveyed said they do it often. Harris Polls calls those people Cyberchondriacs but the reality is, the internet has the information we need. Information that could send someone to their doctor in time or keep them from mixing medications that don’t mix.
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but search engine results are better because we can track. As a marketer, it’s your job to teach your customers that tracking is good for you. It’s not Big Brother. It’s not scary. And if you’re not looking up anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about and everything to gain.
In a choicely worded missive sent to Google’s chief executive, the National Association of Attorneys General outlined a bevy of concerns around the new policy, slated to go into effect on March 1, and requested an immediate meeting with the company.
Google announced in late January that it would be consolidating 60 different privacy policies into a single policy. Come March, the only way for people to opt-out of accepting the terms is to stop using all Google products, completely. The new policy, Google has insisted, is meant to simplify things, but users, Congress, and now state attorneys general are attacking the policy for granting Google unfettered access to user data across its products.
Consumers, the letter goes on to state, have no choice should they wish to keep their browsing history distinct from their email exchanges. This makes for an “invasion of privacy” that will be too “costly for many users to escape.”
The association also believes the policy leaves consumers more vulnerable to identity theft, and calls into question Google’s decision not to make aspects of the policy, such as sharing data between apps, opt-in for consumers. “Unfortunately, Google has not only failed to provide an ‘opt-in’ option, but has failed to provide meaningful ‘opt-out’ options as well,” the letter states.
But that explanation may not be good enough for the attorneys general. The association is giving Google until Feb. 29, the day before the policy is enacted, to respond to the letter and address its concerns.
Photo credit: alancleaver/Flickr
Filed under: VentureBeat