It’s my data (even though I can’t be trusted with it)

I’ve been interested in online data privacy for a number of years. Many of my regular friends/readers realize this.

Back in 2003, when I was conceptualizing a "My Space" type of web site I spent a lot of time considering this issue.  I decided two things were absolute – user data belongs to the user, and the user can’t be trusted with their data.

That sounds bad, not trusting users with their data – but what I meant by that was that I had too much data in too many places to manage it all – I needed tools.  Tools that allowed me to protect (or selectively share) my data, tools to backup my data, etc.  This was in 2003.  I have a hell of a lot more data all over the Internet now then I did then.  And the problem still hasn’t been solved.

Essentially the site I was designing would have let the users completely own the data – change what we knew about you, forget what you told us to forget, and safeguard what you wanted us to remember.

This was all based on a simple principle that your data belongs to you.  Sure, we would monetize it when we could, but we wouldn’t control it.

Today I was a "lurker" on the "New Gang" podcast today, with Steve Gillmor the host. I didn’t get added to the call (un-muted) until the very end, but I shared my opinion on how these companies are treating my data.

And I promise that any company I am involved in will do better.

This runs a little long at about an hour.  If you just want to hear my voice, skip to about 58 minutes – I chime in at the end.

http://www.gillmorgroup.com/media/NewsGangLive-2008.01.30.mp3

But it’s an interesting conversation – one we should all be aware of. 

Don’t you think you should own your social networking data?

And if you don’t own it, who will?