Would you like your personal data anonymous or anonymous?

The Law of User Control is hard at work in a growing controversy about interception of people’s web traffic in the United Kingdom. At the center of the storm is the “patent-pending” technology of a new company called Phorm.

Phorm’s proprietary ad serving technology uses anonymised ISP data to deliver the right ad to the right person at the right time – the right number of times. Our platform gives consumers advertising that’s tailored to their interests – in real time – with irrelevant ads replaced in the process.

The British Information Commissioners Office confirmed to the BBC that BT is planning a large-scale trial of the technology “involving around 10,000 broadband users later this month”. The ICO said: “We have spoken to BT about this trial and they have made clear that unless customers positively opt in to the trial their web browsing will not be monitored in order to deliver adverts.”

“I also have trouble with the notion that in Phorm identities are “anonymized”. As I understand it, each user is given a persistent random ID. Whenever the user accesses the ISP, the ISP can see the link between the random ID and the user’s natural identity. I understand that ISPs will prevent Phorm from knowing the user’s natural identity. That is certainly better than many other systems. But I still wouldn’t claim the system is based on anonymity. It is based on controlling the release of information.* Find out more on this from Kim Cameron’s blog.

Google gives no OPT-OUT clause BEFORE

A couple in the US are suing Google. The lawsuit targets the Mountain View, Calif., company over images on its Web site, which allows users to find street-level photos by clicking on a map. To gather the photos, Google (nasdaq: GOOG news people ) uses vehicles with mounted digital cameras to take pictures up and down the streets of major metropolitan areas.

Apparently a spokesman for Google says that there are links on the Web site that let property owners request that such images be removed if they cite a good reason and can confirm they own the property depicted.

Interesting that we need to REQUEST to opt-out AFTER the event has occurred, but I guess we need to take the trouble first to find out if we need to opt-out, i.e. has Google placed cameras near our home?

Where is the phone?

This morning my grandmother phoned. Nothing strange in that, but it got me thinking because I couldn’t find the telephone. You know that new-age problem that has arrived with mobile technologies. So my cordless phone was somewhere downstairs and I was upstairs. When I got to the source of the sound, I could hear it, but strangely the sounds was muffled, it was underneath some cushions on the armchair, and had fallen down the back. Whilst digging it out I did wonder how many people in the world, at that precise moment in time, were doing the same as me…. looking for their telephone 😉

Identity management is dead?

You know there’s an awful lot of chat (Kim Cameron, Dave Kearns, Eric Norlin) going on about identity, meta-directory systems, etc., sparked by HP’s announcement on change of focus concerning their identity management product. Burton Group has been contacted by HP customers who report that HP is no longer going to seek new customers for its Identity Center product. There are even claims that ‘a meta-directory is ‘dead’.

It is the meta-directory that carries the function of identity management in an enterprise, and identity management will NEVER be dead. Take the UK health authorities that linking up their health records, what about the linking of DNA databases at the European level, etc.., to name just a couple of examples that come to mind.

It is just that identity management once a problem solely for the enterprise -and identity management products have been developed and geared towards this goal- has now today become everyone’s problem. You and me, your children, your neighbours, school teachers, it impact each one of us. As such identity management, what it is, what it needs to provide, has during the most recent years (last 5 years) has changed significantly. Those hardened directory engineers amongst us have become confused because of this, because we have not really got it yet, what has happened? The management of our Identity (not identity management) has grown its own set of legs and is running without us. We can have several identities, physical and virtual. Everything linked to our identity has the potential to impact our reputation. It is not that identity management is dead, it is just that it has changed, it is more than just meta-directories, although they still play a significant role behind the scenes.

Phorm – a new level of effectiveness in online advertising

Leading UK ISPs BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, along with advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad networks, work with Phorm to make online advertising more relevant, rewarding and valuable.

Phorm (AIM: PHRM and PHRX), the advertising technology company, today (14 February 2008) announces exclusive agreements with UK internet service providers (ISPs) BT PLC, TalkTalk and Virgin Media Inc. Phorm’s industry leading technology will enable the companies to offer a new online advertising platform, the Open Internet Exchange (OIX), and a free consumer internet feature, Webwise, which ensures fewer irrelevant adverts and additional protection against malicious websites. It will also revolutionise current standards of online privacy and fully protect the identity of consumers. Phorm’s privacy claims have been validated under best industry practices, both through an independent audit conducted by Ernst & Young (View report PDF) and a Privacy Impact Assessment undertaken by Simon Davies, MD of 80/20 Thinking and Director of Privacy International. It says there is an easy opt-out mechanism. Pity it is not the opposite, i.e. an opt-in mechanism;-)

Umm not sure I buy this, sounds like another ploy to collect more information on us when we are online!

The power of information and TRUST

A couple of weeks ago, the British Computer Society (BCS) released a poll showing two-thirds of Britons say their trust in the government to look after personal data has fallen in the light of recent revelations. At the same time, parliament’s joint committee on human rights painted a picture of a government with a frighteningly gung-ho attitude to new data-sharing procedures. Its report criticised the approach of passing laws containing very broad enabling provisions, while relying on secondary legislation, generally unscrutinised by parliament, for data protection safeguards.

Even more than the recent data loss fiascoes, this is a symptom of a government out of step with growing public awareness of the power of information. If IT-based reforms – let alone schemes like the ID card – are to retain credibility, the government must recognise these concerns. Read more….

Twilight running and deer

Spring is wonderful. Had a couple of tough days this week, seems that everything just takes too long, my patience is low and I just want everything done now, or at least in the foreseeable future. You know after all life is just too damn short to hang around doing nothing for too long.

Basically this week feels unproductive, so much NOT happening. So I went for a run last night. I got home at 1930hrs and it was still light with the daylight savings! It was so beautiful, the sounds of the evening and the calm of the Baltic sea as I ran along the shores of my island. On the way back I was surprised by a couple of deer that run directly across my path. They were very beautiful. Even in the evening twilight it was easy to see them as they ran into the distance as they have pure white marked behinds, their signature to what they are 🙂