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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.

Debbie does broadband

Posted August 6th, 2011 in Broadband, cable television, pornography and tagged , , , , , by Alton Drew

An article in The Wall Street Journal discussing the business upside of internet pornography. Cable television is seeing their, shall we say, prurient interest being eaten by free availability of pornography on adult websites. Not exactly one of the coming attractions that we think of as a tool for inciting interest in broadband.

With the exception of potential new privacy protection measures from the federal government on the horizon, consumers may feel even more comfortable visiting these sites. Not only will consumers get a rise out of this, but investor expectations and valuations of online porn entertainment ventures may get a lift as well.

France wants more Internet regulation

Posted May 23rd, 2011 in Internet, privacy and tagged , , , , by Alton Drew

The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that French president Nicolas Sarkozy wants to get the most out of the Internet as an engine for economic growth while regulating it to protect consumer privacy and the copyrights of content producers. Meanwhile, President Obama has just landed in Ireland and I expect the president to echo Mr. Sarkozy’s sentiments.

While there is nothing wrong with disclosure statements regarding what may be done with a consumer’s personally identifiable information that is submitted to a website nor enforcing the copyrights of artists, scholars, and other content providers, neither Europe or the United States should promote regulations that reach to internal management decisions of broadband access companies.

Do we really need a do not track bill or a please learn to parent in the Internet age bill

Posted May 8th, 2011 in privacy and tagged , , , by Alton Drew

According to The Wall Street Journal, the dynamic duo of U.S. Representative Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and U.S. Representative Joseph Barton, Republican of Texas, have introduced legislation that would prohibit companies from using information gathered from websites on children under the age of 18 for targeted marketing purposes.

It’s always interesting how our representatives ignore the beginning of any process. My nine year-old gets home and asks me, “Daddy. Can I go to XYZ website?” “No”, I respond. “Daddy. Can I go to 1-2-3 website?” “No, I respond.” “Daddy. Can I go to ABC website?” “Hell no”, I respond.

Get the drift?

Maybe we should have a law that punishes parents who not only let their kids get on the Internet unsupervised, but allow them to enter personal information in the first place.

Message to parents: “No.”

Happy Mothers’ Day.

Google Gets Shafted By FTC on consumer privacy. Where’s the consideration?

Thanks to the czarina of tech news, Cecilia Kang at The Washington Post, for herarticle on the settlement agreement between Google and the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC, who I think was unfairly described as a regulatory lapdog by the Center for Digital Democracy, got Google to agree to rework its privacy policy and audit itself periodically. If not, then the company is looking at a fine of $16,000 per violation.

That’s a lot of cheese given Google’s size and blonde ambition for some of Facebook’s market share in the “we’re making money off of free consumer-provided content” industry.

But that’s the thing about free. Social media and social networking is free, at least access wise, for the consumer. The consumer gets to add followers on Twitter like Jesus added disciples in Galilee. Consumers add so many friends on Facebook that shows like “Living Single” and “Friends” would have never got on the air in the first place if social networking were around in the 1990s. All this networking for free.

In the legal world parlance, if a consumer is getting this unprecedented access to people who would otherwise walk past them without speaking, where is the consideration due to Facebook, Google, and Twitter? Why shouldn’t they get something for all they have invested into making the consumer feel like they are putting together their very own virtual mafia family?

Sure one can argue equity for the social network consumer who wants to know how much information about him is being put out there. The real problem, however, is the consumer’s unwillingness to educate himself about the basics of a medium that to this day its power he doth not appreciate.

The bottom-line is that concerns about privacy in the digital age are being blown out of proportion. If you don’t want it out there, keep it to yourself. Otherwise, learn how to leverage and make a market for the content you put out there.