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Suppose Stephen King and Rob Zombie were developing this idea online?

Posted February 26th, 2013 in Broadband, crime, free speech, indecency, privacy and tagged , , , , , by Alton Drew

The New York Times posted a story about a police office who participated in online chats about raping and cannibalizing women, including his wife. The story is horrific because it reminds you what depraved thoughts we as humans may have toward one another and that these thoughts are being expressed online everyday.

Fortunately the women discussed in these chat rooms were not harmed so the prosecution may have a hard time showing that thinking and talking about it was a crime. There was plenty of malice but no bodily injury or harm.

My question is, what would be the difference between a horror movie writer like Stephen King or Rob Zombie sitting in on an online chat discussing different more macabre ways to scare their audiences? Would the notion that the discussion is being held merely for artistic purposes be enough to distinguish the two conversations?

If not, then this police officer might get off. If so, then the Internet might be subjected to a different level of scrutiny.

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Facebook Investors Take Heed

Posted June 26th, 2012 in Federal Trade Commission, Internet, privacy and tagged , , by Alton Drew

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has scheduled a hearing on how well the online industry is self-regulating consumer privacy concerns. The committee’s chairman, Senator John Rockefeller, said the following:

“In our prior hearing on consumer privacy, both the Obama Administration and the FTC commended recent industry efforts to provide consumers with more privacy protections,” said Chairman Rockefeller. “However, their reports also stated that industry can do more and that federal legislation is necessary. In this follow-up hearing, I intend to closely examine how industry intends to fulfill its recent pledge to not collect consumers’ personal information when they utilize the self-regulatory ad icon or make “do-not-track” requests in their web browsers.”

The hearing is scheduled for 28 June 2012.

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Facebook Walks a Dangerous Fine Line

Posted June 4th, 2012 in Facebook, privacy, social media, social network and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Facebook is contemplating technology that would allow children under the age of thirteen to use the social networking site. As if this company doesn’t have enough on its political plate.

Regulators are concerned that investment banks may have shared information about Facebook’s ability to adapt to a mobile app world or make money from advertisements. Now the social networking giant with 900 million users is literally giving Congress an invitation to drag Mark Zuckerberg on to Capitol Hill to have a sit down.

Somehow I don’t see members of Congress wanting to wear hoodies should such an invite be issued.

Facebook for kids under 13 is troubling. As a father I would prefer Facebook only grant access to people over the age of 35, but that’s a stretch. The privacy infringements and cyber bullying activities should have been the first thing that popped up on Zuckerberg and Cos. Radar.

They must think the additional ad revenue from targeting kids will be well worth it. Let’s face it; the only way that company is going to make money is to get more subscribers hooked and the kid market appears ripe for the taking.

Oh well. I already know what my ten-year old is going to ask, so here is the answer: Hell no.

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FTC Signals Some Policy Preferences

Posted March 30th, 2012 in Broadband, Federal Trade Commission, privacy and tagged , by Alton Drew

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz yesterday signaled the FTC’s preferences for future online privacy policies before the House Sub-Committee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. Chairman Leibowitz would like to see a best practices for protecting consumer online privacy; an acceleration of self-regulation within the online industry; a consumer privacy bill of rights which is heavily endorsed by the Obama Administration, and further developments in a do not track mechanism that would protect consumers visiting certain websites.

Chairman Leibowitz also recommended that Congress enact general privacy legislation. The legislation should require that companies implement reasonable measures and notify consumers of certain security breaches while providing consumers access to information maintained on them by information data brokers.

I can understand consumer concerns about the leakage of certain pieces of information, i.e., financial and medical information. Unfortunately sensitive information can be used against consumers during job searches or legal proceedings. Consumers should have this assurance especially if we want to promote broadband adoption among 100 million households over the next decade.

Investors and businesses should not be too overly concerned that the best practices proposed by the FTC are overly intrusive. The FTC appears to be saying before the consumer goes past Checkpoint Charlie, agree on the information that he is going to share and assure him of how it is being used and who else may be seeing it. Once he passes Checkpoint Charlie, however, the flow of commerce should be left uninterrupted. Delays in information flow will only drive up business costs by creating a false scarcity of information and added uncertainty in decision making.

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Zuckerberg needs to man up

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook may be entering into a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission regarding when Facebook subscribers are notified about the changes in the use of their personal information. Facebook will allegedly submit its privacy practices to an outside audit for 20 years.

Mr. Zuckerberg would, according to the article, like to make it easier for subscribers to control how much of their personal data is released to the public.

If I were investing in Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, and read Mr. Zuckerberg’s last statement about making user control over privacy easier, I’d dump the stock. It’s like a cattle rancher telling his herd, I’ll make it easier for you to escape.

The information that Facebook collects is the raw resource that it converts into ad and other sales. The more information that he can package for sale to advertisers and other data aggregators, the better it is for Facebook and other social media firms. Better meaning greater profit.

By failing to get in front of regulators, all he has done is driven up the cost of acquiring his most important factor input: personal information. A good cattle rancher knows how to head of the herd at the pass.