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I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy Hardcover – Jan 10 2012
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"Unnerving narrative about the misuse of personal online information—without our knowledge—to track, judge and harm us in innumerable aspects of our lives.
"Social-network executives often dismiss online privacy concerns: 'You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it,' said Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy. But the constitutional freedoms of millions of people posting personal data on Facebook and other networks are violated routinely, and the law has not kept up with the new technology, writes lawyer Andrews (Institute for Science, Law and Technology/Illinois Institute of Technology; Immunity, 2008, etc.). Noting that social networks make their profits on users’ data, she describes the multibillion-dollar industry of data aggregators who mine online data for the advertising industry, often 'weblining' people, denying them certain opportunities due to observations about their digital selves. Most users have no idea how much information is being collected about them: 'People have a misplaced trust that what they post is private.' The results can be devastating: A Georgia teacher posted a photo showing her drinking a glass of Guinness at an Irish brewery, and she was forced to resign after the photo was e-mailed anonymously to her school superintendent. After seeing a mother’s MySpace page showing her posing provocatively in lingerie, a judge awarded custody of her young children to her husband. 'Virtually every interaction a person has in the offline world can be tainted by social network information,' writes the author, who proposes creating a 'Social Network Constitution' to govern our lives online. Her governing principles would protect against police searches of social networks without probable cause, require social networks to post conspicuous Miranda-like privacy warnings and set rules for the use or collecting of user information.
"Authoritative, important reading for policymakers and an unnerving reminder that anything you post can and will be used against you."
About the Author
Lori Andrews is the director of the Institute for Science, Law, and Technology at Illinois Institute of Technology. She was named a “Newsmaker of the Year” by the American Bar Association Journal and has served as a regular advisor to the U.S. government on ethical issues regarding new technologies. Learn more at LoriAndrews.com.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Facebook has 750 million members, and its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has been pitching it as a means of increasing public participation in the political process. Already some have used it to incite and facilitate street protests. Other more nefarious uses include dessiminating terrorist training materials, finding potential burglary targets out on vacation, and sometimes taking personal photos and information out of context. The Department of Homeland Security now monitors it for some 350 terms, per a 1/11 listing. Member privacy has been a major and recurring concern throughout Facebook's lifetime.
Facebook earned $1.9 billion in advertising revenue in 2010, and another 4200 million from revenue-sharing agreements with applications that run on the site (eg. games). Its 2010 Internet ad revenues exceeded those of newspapers by 2010 - 63% of advertising agencies report targeted ads (per online behavior) have increased their revenues. Facebook, however, makes up only 14.6% of the behavioral advertising market.
Cookies, Flash cookies, and zombie cookies collect user information and sell it to others; similarly, search engine logs help to improve searches and also target their (eg. Google) advertising results. Some companies/sites allow users to opt out of being tracked; however, if you don't know who they are, that's not going to happen. Further, many sites don't function properly unless the user accepts cookies, some opt-outs don't work as promised, and others are only temporary.
The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it illegal to intentionally access a protected computer without authorization; transmitting and obtaining information from such sources are also illegal. However, an actionable violation must cause at least $5,000 in damages, which the author asserts is usually difficult to prove. Other laws are even less useful because they only require approval of the snooping etc. from the site doing it.
Author Lori Andrews is a law professor, hence the legal emphasis throughout the bulk of the book. Her going back to concerns about paparazzi-type actions by early Kodak camera users was one of the more interesting legal references.
But there's harsh reality here, too. Mindless redistribution of personal information for high stakes uses like credit scoring, hiring decisions and legal evidence hurts people. Just this week I was denied an apartment rental because some stranger who shares my first and last name almost a thousand miles away was arrested on drug charges. It's devilishly hard to prove you're NOT somebody about whom no one knows much besides a common name.
Andrews provides a ton of good information on which apps and which companies are involved in which kinds of infringements on your online existence. Anyone who cares about online privacy and data integrity really ought to read this book.
The book winds up with the observation that social networking sites, especially Facebook, have enrolled us all in a face recognition program that tags us in photos whether or not we choose to be tagged. In fact, it may tag you even if you're not a Facebook user. If the photo caption says it's been 'Shopped, no one need link that caption to the photo. Nor can the photo be deleted from backup services like Wayback. Commercial users can make whatever conclusions they want from this photo, without authenticating it. Data protection authorities in Hamburg Germany demanded that Facebook delete its citizens from this database, and Facebook is insisting its technology complies with EU data protection laws. Further, Facebook reserves the right to change its privacy policies any time it chooses to do so.
Andrews' book may not suit all audiences. It's boring in places because it gives too much text without internal structure and leans too heavily on anecdotes. Readers need to think carefully about the ideas presented here. Many things are blown out of proportion. In many other ways, we may only see the tip of the iceberg.
At the end of the book, the author provides the "Social Network Constitution" from the 21st Annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference. Your ideas may differ, but the more people appreciate these problems and care about decent answers, the better off we all will be.
Do you use a popular free email service? Guess what, you might as well be standing on the street corner with a megaphone.
This book frightened me and angered me. I was frightened by the unregulated "Wild West" business practices by internet prowlers and angered by my own ignorance up to this point. As the author points out, if you are not in the internet/web business, what goes on behind the scenes is much worse than you know. The biggest sites are the biggest offenders, starting with Facebook (privacy settings are meaningless).
You should read (reread) this book everytime you plan to subscibe to ANY website!
The reason for four stars intead of five is due to the author's lobbying for some sort of internet constitution. My copy of the book is on loan to a friend, so I can't quote the precise nomenclature; but I would have preferred fewer pages on this idea. Just a small nit to pick, the book is still a good read for ANY internet user.
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