Facebook Apaga el Faro

Al parecer, Facebook ha decidido modificar su programa Beacon (Faro) ante las protestas por violación a la privacidad de los usuarios que han surgido desde su implementación.

El programa Beacon permite a los participantes enviar notificaciones a Facebook sobre las activdades de los usuarios en sus websites. Por ejemplo, si compramos unas botas en Overstock.com, nuestros amigos de Facebook verán una notificación al respecto en sus páginas -de igual manera que nuestras actividades dentro de Facebook son reportadas en el mini-feed.

En teoría, los negocios participantes deben informar al usuario de esta opción y activarla sólo si el usuario así lo desea; pero en la práctica han habido varios reportes de notificaciones que aparecieron sin el permiso de los usuarios.

Ante las primeras críticas, Facebook modificó el funcionamiento del programa, permitiendo a cada usuario desactivar la notificación. Sin embargo, poco después anunciaron que ahora los usuarios deben aprobar la notificación en su página de Facebook antes de enviarla a sus amigos.

De este modo el sistema pasó de ser Opt-out (el usuario debe salirse si no quiere participar) a Opt-in (el usuario debe inscribirse si quiere participar).

Ciertamente es un adelanto en la política de privacidad del servicio. Pero al igual que cuando Facebook activó los mini-feeds, es preocupante que este nuevo servicio también haya arrancado con mal pie en temas de privacidad.

Inside Access and Common Sense

What I’m about to say is not earth shattering. It’s common sense. However, despite it being common sense, you’d be surprised how many people don’t seem to understand this concept.

In today’s blogging world, as in the journalism world, everyone wants the early story; the scoop; the information that makes you the source and causes everyone to bow at your feet in humility. Trust me. Everyone wants this. Sometimes, if you play your cards right and happen to know the right people or be at the right place at the right time, you might just get access to information that is not common knowledge. Some of this information would make a heck of a blog entry. It would mean lots of traffic and you would surely end up on Techmeme or on Digg.

Stop. Just stop.

Think. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will blogging this story cause me to lose friends or relationships?
  2. Will blogging the story cause me to break an embargo I agreed to? (Embargos sent without prior agreement are fair game, in my opinion)
  3. Will blogging the story violate an NDA?
  4. Will blogging the story cause other people not to share information with me?

Like I said – common sense. Personally, I’ve been given intimate knowledge of LOTS of things. Google related things. Early previews of alpha products in stealth. Insider knowledge of how organizational health of some companies. Indications of where key players may end up and who’s talking to who. What employee at a tech company is sleeping with the CEO. Yes, I have access. No I am not blogging any of this stuff. Why? Because… it will hurt my chances of getting other access or it may cause me personal relationships with folks.

Common Sense.

Oh, and don’t share private conversations without permission.

Democracy Abhors Undue Secrecy

This article was originally published on September 30, 2004 and is being republished as part of the Technosailor 3-year Blogiversary series. Enjoy!

Finally, my Patriot Act provision whipping boy has been ruled illegitimate and unconstitutional. According to U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrerro, the Patriot Act provision allowing federal officials to gain access to private internet and telephone communication without warrant is unconstitutional and constitues illegal search and seizure.

In other words, if I’m a regular user who may be under (false) suspicion of terrorism ties, and I use Earthlink as my ISP, any and all email communication, data transfer, etc (illegal or not) would be subject to the Patriot Act rules which allow federal officials to obtain this information without warrant and furthermore, prevents Earthlink from letting me know that my information has been acquired. The Fourth Amendment protects against this and demands law enforcement to provide reasonable cause to retain a warrant.

I have held for a long time, almost since day one of the Patriot Act inception, that it is a document implemented in a sensitive and jumpy moment that allows too broad of powers to authorities that cannot possibly use the power effectively and without infringing on personal liberties. It is a legalized robbery of personal liberties.

In the south, South Carolina was the first state in the union to secede. In the south, they still call the civil war the War of Northern Aggression. Why? Not slavery, my friends. Because Lincoln sent American military troops into operatinos against other American states and that was seen as an abuse of power and an infringement on the very American principles that caused South Carolina to ratify the Constitution in the first place.

How is this abominable Act of Congress any better. In the name of protection from terrorism, the privacy we enjoy in America slips away. Out of fear, control is tightened on the good American people.

This was a major issue that caused me to be undecided on this election for so long. I may endorse Bush, but I do not endorse government infringement on my life, or on your life.