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Thursday, 22 May 2008

Do you?

Before the dawn of the Internet, as people now know it, one rarely gave out personal details. Then the Internet grew up into what is now known as the WWW and at first one still never gave out personal details. Then the WWW grew up and more and more web sites demanded registration. Some did not care if you gave them real information or not, but some did. Those that did often verified you were as you claimed you were by issuing an email that had to be replied to to gain access to hidden parts of those web sites. Rarely during these times did your details get passed to third parties.

The next development in the birth of the Internet was the so called 'selected third parties' syndrome. Where you signed up for a web site and that web site would sell your details to a few other businesses. This usually meant that your email inbox would become a target for several other businesses who inturn may have sold on your details to yet more 'selected third parties. And so on.

Back in those days giving out ones details was not considered such a problem though, as most users still trusted just about every commercial web site in existence at that time.

By the time the WWW part of the Internet had reached some level of maturity, however, this bond of trust was slowly eroding, especially amongst those who had been there from the start. As an example, consider Billy Nomates, he was there from the start and would glibly hand over his personal information to any web site that demanded it as he wanted the full Internet experience. Slowly over time he began reading some of the 'contracts' and to his slowly dawning horror he began to realise that he was being subjected to what amounted to a gang bang. Suddenly he was getting 'informational' emails from companies he had never heard of. His email count went from 4 or 5 a day, not counting spam, to 14-15. He realised that these companies, and worse his government, was selling his private information to other companies.

Just prior to the birth of Web 2.0 he made the conscious decision that if a web site demanded he filled in a form for access then he would do so. But if a web site further demanded he fill out forms about his interests he would go no further with the registration and would demand that the company remove his other details. He wasn't naive enough to think they would actually do this but he always demanded such anyway.

Bounce forward to today where personal identification is the 'in thing'. He refused to join any 'social' web sites, like facebook, even though he witnessed its birth. He refuses to give any goverment entity any of his personal details and that goes double for the governments of the U.K. and U.S.A. In fact he refuses to sign up to any web site anywhere on the Internet now. Has his enjoyment of it being damaged because of this stance? Not at all, according to him. When he sees a web link to somewhere he will often click on it to see what it offers, but if it demands he hands over his details to progress further he simply closes the web page. He does not trust those web sites of today that say they will not share your data with any third parties (always with a waiver should the local law enforcement request it) and trusts even less those that say 'we respect your privacy' because if you was to go on and read the FAQ of those sites you will invariably see that they will waive this privacy policy if it becomes worthwhile to them to do so (never in such plain language but it is there wrapped up in legalese).

Do you glibly sign away your rights to privacy if a web sites demands you do so for access? Or do you do it carefully and only for selected web sites? Do you ever read the T&C's, FAQ etc?

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