Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why the need for privacy?

Maybe it’s a generational thing: many of the young, grown up with phone cameras, Facebook and instant messaging, seem unconcerned about sharing the most intimate details with a global audience. Until they come to find that they are denied a job or a qualification because of a ‘drunken pirate’ photo.[1]

However, in business it is very often the case that information has a commercial or other sensitivity and it can be important to ensure that it is shared appropriately, especially when it travels across borders.

Unfortunately, that is hard to do. This blog post contains a summary of some of the reasons that users are becoming more concerned over privacy:

  • ‘Blackberry phones in the United Arab Emirates recently received a text from Etisalat, a major provider in the UAE, prompting for users to download and install an update to enhance performance. … the "update" downloaded was really software designed to collect received messages and send them back to a central server.’ More
  • ‘India has sent formal notices to the country's mobile operators telling them they must have equipment to monitor Blackberry services by 31 August.’ More
  • ‘China has been monitoring and censoring messages sent through the internet service Skype, researchers say.’ More
  • Google’s business model (in common with Twitter, Facebook and many others) is to sell advertising targeted to the individual based on the content of information they have stored. In discussing this, an American bank executive working in England who has his tax returns sent to his Gmail account by US-based KPMG realized that all his tax affairs from the PDFs are indexed, stored and available for retrieval.
  • ‘Personal details of thousands of Sky broadband customers have been leaked on to the internet, alongside a list of pornographic movies they are alleged to have shared online.’ The list was in an attachment filed with one of 1,000 emails leaked from a law firm’s email archive. More
  • ‘If you have a friend on Facebook who has used the iPhone app version to access the site, then it's very possible that your private phone numbers - and those of lots of your and their friends - are on the site.’ More

[1] ‘Stacy Snyder was weeks away from getting her teaching degree when she said her career was derailed by an activity common among many young teachers: posting personal photos on a MySpace page.’ 6 May 2008 retrieved 7 Oct 2010