Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Privacy Issues

I am a little bit incoherent with rage today. I'm also a big hypocrite.

I'm angry because I read quite a good article by Aditya Chakrabortty about internet privacy. I suggest you don't read articles about internet privacy, by the way. It's a very bad idea.

And I'm a hypocrite because, in spite of this bit of the article. . .

Asked last December about whether users should be concerned about sharing so much information with Google, CEO Eric Schmidt replied: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

. . . I still use Blogger and Gmail.

I'm a pretty transparent blogger. I blog under my full name. My profile picture is a photograph of myself. I am pretty sure that I'd be easy enough to track down, if someone wanted to track down a 26-year-old wannabe novelist with psoriasis and a tendancy to write very long sentences (I'm right here, people, take a number. . .). The names of the suburbs where I live and work are probably available on here somewhere, or if not, in a comment thread on someone else's blog.

All of that was a decision. I could have blogged as PinkTeaGirl26 living in Indeterminate Canalside Suburb and working in Indeterminate Coastal Suburb, getting there and back via Unspecified Form of Public Transport (I take the bus). I decided not to. I started my blog to meet other writers and participate in the very active and fun publishing blogosphere (yes, Ms. Nelson, I owe it all to you!) and I wanted to do that under my own name. This isn't a small decision - I have a friend who has intended to start a blog for a while now, and is still considering how much information to make available.

It's a decision, though, and as the author of that article says, that is content I choose to release. It isn't data that becomes available through monitoring my activities, and I'm not crazy about how much information companies may hold on me because I chose to use their search engines (not singling Google out here, I use several search engines).

Even knowing how much information search engines hold on me doesn't bother me as much as Mr. Schmidt's comment. There are lots of things I do that aren't wrong, that I would prefer remained private. For obvious reasons, I'm not going to list all of them, but the best example is the simplest: gentle readers, sometimes I use the bathroom. I'm also a hypochondriac, so I have been known to conduct long and detailed research into diseases I couldn't possibly have - I would be quite happy if no one had access to that list (mostly because there is a danger they might laugh themselves into a coma). 'Unwilling to do it in public' does NOT equal 'should not be doing it at all'.

Anyway, have a nice calming article about waves to make up for all that, also courtesy of today's Guardian.


  1. Blimey - that was one long article about beautiful waves -thanks!

    Astonishing isn't it how mighty Google and all their ilk think they can get away with what they do and justify their reasoning behind with a shrug of the shoulders and the pithy comments such as those of Mr Schmidt. But we use them and we will never stop using them. And if there's money to be made these companies will make them on the back of all these info we give freely. Such is the wonders of techonology.

    I'm all for regulation, regulation, regulation. But I don't that will happen - who watches the watchers etc?

    Now back to the waves!

    take care

  2. Excellent blog. People who want info about me will find out I have an aged Dowager Feline named Clancy and that's about it.


  3. Yet another CEO with a big mouth and little tact.

  4. Like you, I put up my real name and real picture, and I also like to know the real name and see the person I'm "meeting" through blogging. And I want to know at least what state he/she is in. Some information you wouldn't want to share. But simple human things? I'm really not afraid of being stalked!!

  5. Glad you liked the waves article, Kitty - it was so detailed that it took me two goes to read it fully :)

    Christine, I'll bet people love knowing about the Dowager Feline, she is pretty cool :) That said, it's not the most sensitive information in the world!

    Seriously, Donna, I hope you're as shocked as I am. . .

    Ann, I agree, when meeting people online it nice to feel you have a sense of who they 'really' are. Also, there is the ever-important 'platform' that all fledgling writers are supposed to have nowadays - yes, you can have a platform under a different name or a pseudonym but one's own name just seems easier.

  6. I do think it's crazy what internet providers, browsers and the like think they can get away with. Crazy.

    I find drinking wine helps!

  7. That's your answer to everything! :p


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