Online Privacy

On Pseudonymity, Privacy and Responsibility on Google+

On Pseudonymity, Privacy and Responsibility on Google+
Persistent pseudonyms aren't ways to hide who you are. They provide a way to be who you are. You can finally talk about what you really believe; your real politics, your real problems, your real sexuality, your real family, your real self. Much of the support for "real names" comes from people who don't want to hear about controversy, but controversy is only a small part of the need for pseudonyms. For most of us, it's simply the desire to be able to talk openly about the things that matter to every one of us who uses the Internet. The desire to be judged—not by our birth, not by our sex, and not by who we work for—but by what we say.

Why Facebook and Googles Concept of Real Names Is Revolutionary

Why Facebook and Google's Concept of 'Real Names' Is Revolutionary
In your head, adjust the settings for this thought experiment (you say it at work or your hometown or on television) or what you say (something racist, something intensely valuable, something criminal) or who you are (child, celebrity, politician) or who is listening (reporters, no one, coworkers, family). What I think you'll find is that we have different expectations for the publicness and persistence of a statement depending on a variety of factors. There is a continuum of publicness and persistence and anonymity. But in real life, we expect very few statements to be public, persistent, and attached to your real identity. Basically, only people talking on television or to the media can expect such treatment. And even then, the vast majority of their statements don't become part of the searchable Internet.

Check Your Facebook And LinkedIn Privacy Settings

Speaking Of Privacy, Did you know Facebook is giving your cell phone number to all your friends. Go there now and start grabbing cell phone numbers to drunk dial from Internet Librarian in Monterey! 'Account' -> 'Edit friends' -> 'Contacts' you'll see any cell phone numbers people have entered. You should probably follow the steps given by Facebook to remove your cell number and to prevent others from seeing yours.

If you're like me (and you know you want to be) you have a LinkedIn account, but you're really not sure what to do with it, well good news, LinkedIn just found how to use YOU... Someplace in the 6000+ word "privacy" policy they've decided it's ok for them to use your name and picture in social advertising. So LinkedIn will watch what you do, figure out what you might sell for them, and then use your name and picture in an endorsement they make for some crap they'll stick on your friends pages. From the pulldown menu under your name at the top right of your LinkedIn pages, choose Settings. Then choose the Account tab at bottom left, and click Manage Social Advertising. While you're there, check all the other settings, there's some icky stuff in there.

Practical Tips For Online Privacy

This is Part Two in my many part series on IT Security In Libraries. In Part One I tried to lay the foundation for security. This week we'll talk privacy, and up next will be a general "Staying Safe Online" that will cover a million and one tips on how to keep you and your computer safe. Privacy is a relative term. That is, the things that I consider important to my privacy, someone else might not care about. As librarians we usually key in on Confidentiality Threats. We want our patrons records safe. We also don't share that information with ANYONE else. In general, we are fierce about protecting our patrons’ privacy. This is something that has always set us apart from everyone else. Amazon won't do it. Google won't do it. Do I even need to say Facebook won't do it? People who come into the library or use our web sites don't worry about what's going to happen with their information (or at least they shouldn't need worry about it). They should know we are doing our best to guard their privacy. Keeping all our IT resources secure should be a large part of guarding that privacy. There are no big events, dead bodies or explosions in privacy violations. It's something that is slowly eroding over time. The troubles are more subtle and are caused by errors, or intential misues and a shocking lack of transparency, accountability and security. We don't think about privacy much, we only think about it when things are going wrong. Most people tend to think privacy isn't very important, and don't give it a second thought. Most companies make money by keeping our information as free as possible so it can be used, shared, and sold. Let’s start this section with some general arguments FOR privacy, some reasons why privacy is so highly valued in our profession:

Why Pseudonymity Matters On The Web

why pseudonymity matters
Andromeda Yelton: "Anything less would be me trying to colonize their identity: to tell them that their assessment of who they are matters less than mine, and that my norms dominate their understanding of themselves. And this is what real-names policies do. They posit that some normative concept of our own identity and self-presentation has primacy over our understanding of those things; they rip away structures that allow us to participate respectfully, or even acceptably, in communities with diverse norms, and in doing so privilege the most mainstream of those norms; they threaten people who are already vulnerable by removing their ability to engage with communities where certain parts of themselves are safe, or risking reprisal from more powerful people and norms if they do. And they are not necessary. The internet can be civil without them, or uncivil with them — and either way civility is not a more important value than free expression, or employability, or physical safety. Sometimes some of us are lucky enough to not have them be in conflict; let us not assume this is, therefore, true for everyone, at all times."

Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far

Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far
Ultimately, the key issue may not come down so much to pure privacy features but to whether Google+ lets users share online in a more natural, intuitive manner, like they do in real life, than is possible with Facebook today, F-Secure's Sullivan said. Whether it succeeds and beats Facebook in that respect remains to be seen, he said.

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

Privacy Main Issue At Stake in Santa Clarita Library Suit

While a nonprofit group (Save Our Libraries) dedicated to keeping the Santa Clarita libraries within the County Library system continues to subpoena former and present City officials in an ongoing lawsuit, the attorney assigned to the matter, Donald Ricketts, maintains that unwarranted access to the public’s information is the primary issue.

“What the lawsuit says is you can’t put the library into the hands of a private company,” Ricketts said, “because to do so you would have to give them information which is confidential and which they need to run the library.”

After City Council voted 4-1 on August 24 to secede from the County of Los Angeles Public Library – and inevitably award a contract to Library Systems and Services, LLC to run the City’s three branches – 12 people sent a letter to City Council alleging a Brown Act violation had occurred.

Essentially, the Brown Act prevents California governmental bodies from holding secret workshops and study sessions where decisions concerning the public could be made without its attendance.

Question: Is there a way to insure that a private corporation wouldn't take advantage? And should we assume that they would take advantage of acquiring confidential information?

KHTS Hometown Station reports.

A Revised Taxonomy of Social Networking Data

A Revised Taxonomy of Social Networking Data: Lately Bruce Schneier has been reading about user security and privacy -- control, really -- on social networking sites. The issues are hard and the solutions harder, but he's seeing a lot of confusion in even forming the questions. Social networking sites deal with several different types of user data, and it's essential to separate them.

THis is his taxonomy of social networking data, which he first presented at the Internet Governance Forum meeting last November, and again -- revised -- at an OECD workshop on the role of Internet intermediaries in June.

Privacy: The issue isn't (just) other people knowing your information

ALA's Intellectual Freedom Round Table has a blog post suggesting that thinking about online privacy on the 'human scale' (eg, other people seeing our information) is too limited. <i>So by thinking about privacy violations on a human scale, we convince ourselves that even though the capability exists to track us, our privacy is only potentially violated. For our privacy to actually be violated, someone (Google, Facebook, or the FBI) would have to specifically notice us.


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