Monthly Archives: February 2009

Cloud Computing, Privacy issues and doing something

I was interested that the New York Times picked this up, but not surprised whe the first thing they mentioned was the recent Facebook news.  Cloud computing adds a new layer of privacy concerns since your data can and will be stored across multiple providers.  Let’s break down a scenario you all will understand and how it could affect you.

You sign up for NewSocialNetwork.  You are enjoying the site and it is growing at a nice rate, adding hundreds if not thousands of users daily.  Eventually they start to feel the growing pains and look for some cloud hosting of data.  Such as S3 from Amazon.  Here is where the trouble begins to surface.

Your original privacy agreement is with NewSocialNetwork, not S3.  Another agreement is reached independently between NewSocialNetwork and S3, not you and S3.  While in most instances these agreements are rahter benign, not all of them will be.

In the United States, information held by a company on your behalf — be it a bank, an e-mail provider or a social network — is often not protected as much as information a person keeps at home or a business stores in computers it owns. Sometimes that means that a government investigator, or even a lawyer in a civil lawsuit, can get access to records by simply using a subpoena rather than a search warrant, which requires more scrutiny by a court.

What the above means is that information, pictures, ideas and history of chats, email and browsing may be more freely available.  I am not saying I totally agree with this theory from the World Privacy Forum report.

Many of the social network sites reserve the right to change their Privacy documentation at will, with notice to you, the user.  However, this mostly happens as they make the change, not as they are about to.  What transpires is that you are already caught in new Privacy controls you did not originally agree to and had no notice amendments were coming.  You may lose or gain rights as these are modified.

While cloud services are looked upon as simply a data storage and distribution model for scalability, the key is that it includes our data storage.  Let us say that I remove my account from NewSocialNetwork following their Privacy rules.  Their rules state that they will delete all references to my account.  But what about the data and copies stored at the cloud location.  Are those removed by the cloud provider because of the NewSocialNetwork privacy terms?  Highly unlikely.

What I do know is that NewSocialNetwork (and all the ones we use today) need to amend their Privacy documentation available to us to address not only data we store with them directly on their servers, but through them once they start utilizing cloud services.

HR looks at your Facebook account and snubs you

Interesting article and survey review from Human Resources Magazine.  In it they make the simple statement that I used in the title, 1/3 of HR staff peek at your Facebook/MySpace accounts and then a mere 24% don’t like what they read.  We won’t even go into the recruiters yet.

Where does the line get drawn between what you do in private and how it affects their view of you at the workspace?  Why would a rude comment on Facebook, made to the public, not anyone specifically generate interest from your employer?

The answers i the transparency of what used to be private.  You could hang around with your friends and family and have any discussion you wished.  If a co-worker was invited over (mainly a boss) the conversation was never the same tone or content.  You kept a definiteive line between both sides.  With the introduction of Facebook and other social network sites into the enterprise, the line is being slowly erased.

If your boss attempts to be your friend online, are you to say no?  How would that look to them?  Do you grudglinly accept their request and wonder why?  Is it an attempt to see more of who you are and your real attitudes or do they consider you a friend?

This all needs to be brought into perspective and you need to learn about the transparency of your lifestyle and presence as the two worlds merge like they never have before.  You are sharing data, locations, pictures and lifestyle with not only friends but your employers.

MySpace and the 90,000 confirmed sex offenders. No surprise here

Before we even begin down the tube on this posting, I want to say that in no way is MySpace a haven for these offenders.  They are everywhere, all networks.  You might be sitting next to one in your office or one lives up the street.  MySpace has taken a stance to remove the profiles of these people (USA Today article).  They have even gone so far as to begin building safeguards in allowing anyone over 18 to search the profiles of those below 18.

Let me focus on that issue for a moment.  While this is a major step by a social network of this size, who validates the birth year for anyone on any social network?  How many of you actually use your real birth year?  Yes, I am talking to you.  You know you do not.  Even the Attorney General of Connecticut, Roy Blumenthal, states he knows there is fake names/birthdays in this NY Times article:

Mr. Blumenthal said in a statement. “For every one of them, there may be hundreds of others using false names and ages.”

One of the facets of the online social networks is not the fear of using them.  It should be the responsibility of the person to secure their information that they intend to share.

It is admirable that the attorney generals of states are taking this stance, even working with Facebook now, but what about the ones that have alternate names or have not been caught?  That goes back to you, the public using the sites.  I get a lot of feedback from readers saying the sites should do more.  I agree and hope that we make a difference.  But it all has to start with the parents and your own ability to protect your information.

So make a visit to your kids friend list and even your own.  Take a new visit to the privacy section and see what you are sharing.  I am often surprised.  Then again I am not.