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fairness in privacy reporting
Authored by: Blah on Aug 25, '05 08:22:54PM
I guess this is deserving of another reply....
I think the 'stomp on Plaxo' vibe is a little exaggerated. I have no connection to Plaxo or any other PIM-consolidation-social-networking company except as a possible customer. Plaxo's privacy policy: http://www.plaxo.com/privacy/policy for comparison, Apple's privacy policy: http://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/ Plaxo explicitly says they will not do anything at all -- beyond sending an update request e-mail -- with non-subscriber information, specifically addresses I keep in my online address book. Apple says ***exactly nothing*** about contact info I sync with .Mac and what they may do with it. Apple could take my entire address book and send it to offshore scammers for processing. In theory. :-) (Not to imply Apple is evil, just to make the point that privacy is slippery even with firms you 'trust.')
My point in the above comments had little to do with Plaxo, except as an example, and much to do with the entire notion of people being careless with other people's personal information. I do not "trust" Apple with my personal information any more than Plaxo, Microsoft (no XP ever, until they do away with activation), or any other company that accumulates personal information.
Here's the relevant section of Plaxo's policy -- because as you have all pointed out, this is not about MY info, it's about YOUR info, that you gave me, and I choose to store on Plaxo: ------ -snip- ------ So, basically, it's my address list, Plaxo may send e-mail to you if I ask them to, you can say "leave me the &#*&! alone" and they will, nobody deletes anything from my address book without me saying so (because it's my address book!).
Right. So this backs up the notion that there is nothing your 'friends' can do to undo the fact that you've sent their personal information to a 3rd party. One that they may or may not trust or want to have that information. And I didn't see it now, but had read on their site quite some time back that even if you delete info from your 'local' address book, they still keep it in their database. It's basically there, just marked as 'deleted'. So in reality, once you've put someone else's data on their servers there's no way to ever remove it, ever! AFAIK.
Keeping in mind: if you have a cellphone, an ISP account, a credit card, a driver's license, utility bills, Usenet postings, cable TV, magazine subscriptions, voter registration, a blog, parking tickets, a spouse, an ex-spouse, or a listed phone number -- ALL your information is already out there in a zillion tasty nuggets... and me including you in my Plaxo list adds essentially nothing to that giant load of personal data, except that rather than me sending you a note saying "Did you move?" Plaxo sends it for me.
Sorry, but most of the things you've listed are irrelevant (all are irrelevant for me). Either they are not public data (i.e. driver's license, utility bills, voter registration), or at least not passed around to 3rd parties. And nothing in that list would ever get my (unpubllished) phone number, outside the phone company. Lots of people are carefree/careless with their information, but others are not. When someone gives you their personal information, they are entrusting you to treat it as such. So unless you ask, you have no idea if they would want you to be giving it out - particularly to an online social networking company.
Believe me, if I had a personal assistant to bug people for their updated contact info, I wouldn't be bothering with this. :-)
And if I had a personal assistant to handle junk phone calls, junk email and junk advertisements I'd be (a little) less bothered by all of it.

Sorry, I really don't want to sound like a totall a$$ here, but your comments are only relevant for those people who don't care what you do with their info. And until/unless you ask, you don't know. One 'spam' to your address book in advance would take care of that, and companies like Plaxo, Apple and everyone else, if they were responsible would point that out, instead of trying their damnedest to get you to pass along personal data that they would never otherwise get. That's what's evil, to use the term someone else here posted.

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privacy for blah
Authored by: mikerose on Aug 26, '05 04:15:17PM
Blah:
I think you make some good points on the issue of courtesy in allowing people to opt-out of Plaxo, sixdegrees, .Mac preemptively ("Hey, I'm going to start using Plaxo, want out?"). It would be the nice thing to do. If I wanted to deal with all the bounces from all the bogus ancient e-mail addresses in my book, I would have done it.

I don't think, however, that I want to get a teensy e-mail from hundreds of people each time they turn on, say, .Mac synchronization, to upload their contacts for online access, and my name is in their address book, asking me "OK by you?" Do you want those e-mails? How about the next time they turn it off & back on? Would a global opt-out list of e-mail addresses do the trick, so you'd only have to register once? Woops, problem there -- you'd have to register your identity with some sort of online entity to opt out. Darn those catch-22s! :-)

Saying "(Service X) is evil because they collect personal information" or "Nobody should use (Service Y) without getting permission from everyone first" is like saying "McDonald's food should come with a warning label because it's unhealthy and people need to be reminded of that." We may have consensus that they are possibly harmful, but disagree on the need for a remedy (ask permission first vs. select people judiciously and remove them on request).

You also said:

When someone gives you their personal information, they are entrusting you to treat it as such. So unless you ask, you have no idea if they would want you to be giving it out - particularly to an online social networking company.

Suppose I was just using it for business contacts. When someone hands me a business card, they have minimal expectation of privacy -- in many cases they are expecting me to share their contact info with colleagues. Still object?

I'm also not certain what expectations, entrustments or other presumptions apply to the exchange of name, address, or e-mail address -- particularly e-mail, the discursive mode is still so young. You may feel that by giving me your e-mail address, you have bound me into a compact of silence that precludes me storing it anywhere except my personal, well-secured PC and a paper backup; someone else may feel differently, and not care as much (and I would bet that most people fall in the second category, whether by deliberate choice or by ignorance). MY assumption would be, if you give me your e-mail address, you expect me to treat it with reasonable care (= "not posting it on alt.talk.likely-409-scam-suckers") but not extraordinary care (= "as closely as I guard my credit card numbers"). Long and short, if your expectations are more stringent than most, it's on you to tell me that you want your info handled extra-carefully when you give it to me, otherwise it gets handled like all the other info I have (which may be stored on third-party servers or services for my convenience).

You said:

Sorry, I really don't want to sound like a totall a$$ here, but your comments are only relevant for those people who don't care what you do with their info. And until/unless you ask, you don't know.

No I don't know, but I make assumptions based on the social compact as I perceive it, and most people do not have the same concerns you do (leaving aside the question of whether they SHOULD have the same concerns, which is an open issue). I could go back to my 9th-grade girlfriend and ask her how she wants her e-mail address handled, but honestly I think she would consider me a stalker.

I have lots of contacts, and unless they tell me in advance that their info is private (and some might, ie. unlisted phone number, private e-mail address) I am not going to process them separately, or think about them all the time, because I have a life to lead. :-)

One 'spam' to your address book in advance would take care of that, and companies like Plaxo, Apple and everyone else, if they were responsible would point that out, instead of trying their damnedest to get you to pass along personal data that they would never otherwise get. That's what's evil, to use the term someone else here posted.

Yeah, but the point is I don't want to spam everyone and tell them I need their new address info, because then they will SEND IT TO ME, and I will have to type it all in, and that will take time that I lack, that being why it all got out of date in the first place, and I don't even like most of these people.

If I spam them and say "I'm signing up for Plaxo and you may hear from me again in a day or so, but this time it'll be with wee icons in the message, and if you don't want to be on my list on Plaxo let me know, and if you don't know what Plaxo is then I'll be sure to spend a lot of my valuable address-typin' time explaining why you might or might not want to be on my address list thereon..." they will think a) I am crazy and b) they don't even like me either.

'Evil' is a strong word. The Nazis were 'evil.' Child pornographers are 'evil.' I think for what Plaxo etc. are doing, 'Marketing' may be closer. IMHO, things like supermarket discount cards, frequent flyer programs and magazine subscription sweepstakes are further down the 'good/evil' continuum.

We can continue this offline if you like. If you send me an e-mail I promise never to put your address on Plaxo. However, it might wind up on .Mac inadvertently, and it will certainly be on my Exchange server and Blackberry -- can't be helped! :-)

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