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Google Privacy Security Your Rights Online

Google Urged To Let Personal Data Fade Away 116

Posted by timothy
from the dust-in-the-wind dept.
jee4all writes with this excerpt from E-week: "Researchers say personal information should 'degrade' — becoming less specific over time — to protect users' privacy. Rather than amassing personal data and holding on to it as long as legally possible, companies such as Google should allow the data to degrade over time, according to researchers. In an interview with the BBC this week, Dutch researcher Harold van Heerde discussed his work on the idea of allowing data to becomes less specific over time. Letting the specifics gradually disappear could protect consumer privacy while also meeting the needs of service providers, he said."
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Google Urged To Let Personal Data Fade Away

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  • Fade away? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ak_hepcat (468765) <leif AT denali DOT net> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:02PM (#32607362) Homepage Journal

    I always heard it was better to burn out...

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:10PM (#32607478)
      I'm degrading over time so why not my personal data?
      • Yes, they could just use Western Digital drives, and watch the data degrade over time with no extra effort...it'll be all gone in six months, tops!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kestasjk (933987) *
        Because digital data is far easier to copy and maintain over time than it is to degrade it manually.
      • If only some memories could be as easily erased like digital data!

    • Re:Fade away? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:23PM (#32607608) Journal
      My, my, hey, hey.

      Offtopic mod for your post? I guess... but the lyrics of that song actually have some relevance.

      Out of the blue [blue == anonymity]
      and into the black [black == data records]
      They give you this, [free services]
      but you pay for that [with loss of privacy]
      And once you're gone, [not using their services anymore]
      you can never come back [into anonymity]
      When you're out of the blue
      and into the black.

      Of course, I think Neil Young was referring to death and fame, not services and privacy. But the man has a real way with words.
    • by D Ninja (825055)

      Old sailors have already mastered this trick. They don't die...they just...fade away.

  • In related news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bovius (1243040) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:04PM (#32607398)

    Data naturally goes stale like bread, can be fed to ducks.

    All of the language around "letting data degrade" seems to imply that it would be no work, no trouble at all for Google to make this happen. Just let it get less specific, that determining the rules for gracefully removing data while maintaining integrity is the natural order of database storage.

    Let them eat cake.

    • Let them eat cake.

      Who? The public, the researcher, Google or the aforementioned ducks?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sortius_nod (1080919)

        I don't think it's healthy to feed ducks cake...

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @07:21PM (#32608110) Journal
          Wildly off topic here, but if you want something entertaining, throw an entire slice of bread (or, better, pitta bread) to the ducks. One of them will grab it whole and then swim away as fast as it can from the others. As it does, the bread will drag in the water and bits will drop off. Most of the bread goes to the ducks following it. It's entertaining to watch, and is probably a metaphor for the music industry or something.
  • Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:04PM (#32607404) Homepage

    While they're at it, they chould take a huge pile of cash and slowly burn it to the ground, because having things of value totally sucks. Ooh, ooh, and buy a Van Gogh and leave it out in the rain to dissolve!

    I'd ask what he's smoking, but I think it's pretty obvious.

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ciaohound (118419) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:16PM (#32607550)

      take a huge pile of cash and slowly burn it to the ground

      Ah, the '90's. It's hard to believe they've been gone for a whole decade already.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        umm didn't we just piss away a huge pile of cash in January 2009?
        • by blai (1380673)
          who's this 'we'?
        • Yeah. I think he might have been almost nostalgic for the days when $10,000,000 turned into only $1,000,000, rather than the current 100,000,000,000 turning into 100,000 (plus or minus the CxOs golden parachutes).
      • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:40PM (#32609576)
        I wrote a post to alt.drugs one night when I was in college in 1990. I started getting flak about it five or six years ago from one relative after another (starting with my mother) as they got on the Internet and did searches for my name. No matter what I accomplish in life, my alt.drugs post from 20 years ago stubbornly remains on the first page of Google results.
        • by kestasjk (933987) *
          And the Seinfeld Kramer actor will forever be remembered as the nigger-comedian-guy, it sucks but it's not Google's fault that the stupid things people do stick.
          • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Friday June 18, 2010 @01:21AM (#32610060)
            Uh, that's different. Michael Richards did something that should have struck anyone at the time as being impossible to live down. My alt.drugs post wasn't stupid (except for being in alt.drugs), not even interesting. I warned people about the low LD-50 of an over-the-counter medicine. (Lots of people now seem to think "LD-50" is a roofie or something.)

            Google displays USENET posts that go back to 1981, when the future of the Internet was unforeseen by anyone. Even Nostradamus was posting pictures of his penis on the alt.binaries groups back then. None of the posts you see Google pulling up would have been written if their authors knew that Google would be proudly showing them to everyone 20, 30 years later whenever anyone searches for your name.
            • by kestasjk (933987) *
              Fair enough, but your post didn't really indicate that it was a harmless post about taking the effects of daily aspirin, rather something that family members would be ashamed of

              I don't really see why if it was nothing to be ashamed of it would be a bother, but without a link to the post which I doubt you'd want to provide it's hard to make any further judgement
        • by dwye (1127395)

          Are you the only person with your name? My name is fairly uncommon, yet when I google it I come up with posts or emails from at least two different people; when I was in the whois database, about a decade ago, I received email every six months or so to someone else with my name (and different someones each time, from the contents). Clearly, you should just say that someone else with your name posted to alt.drugs (unless you leaked too many details in it for it NOT to be you) once upon a time.

          Alternately,

    • Re:Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DriedClexler (814907) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:16PM (#32607554)

      Yeah, it sounds like yet another professor blowing good money to produce a study that 4chan could debunk in an hour.

      Still, it got me thinking about a sort of similar idea: instead of expecting corporations to stab themselves in the eye by degrading their data, what about using a kind of data that is designed to become less useful over time, and then, as an individual, only sharing that kind of data with businesses.

      Think about it this way: why do they put your date of birth on your ID cards rather than your age? Well, duh, your age while change over time but your DOB won't. If you ever need to know someone's age, you can infer it from the current date and their DOB.

      So if you gave your age to a company you're doing business with, that information becomes less useful over time because you're less likely to still be that age. (Of course, if they record the time you gave them that data, they can get pretty close, but just focus on the general concept.) Giving your age would be preferable to giving your DOB.

      Similarly, telling someone where I live right now is less useful information as time goes by, as there's a chance I could have moved that increases with time. Or consider credit cards and email addresses that exist for only temporary usage.

      Is it possible, then, to reformat other kinds of data so that they become less useful over time? People could feel safer giving this data to someone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gregrah (1605707)

        There are companies that exist now whose sole purpose in life is to pull together peoples' personal information from disparate sources, combine that information into astonishingly detailed profiles of just about anyone in the United States, and sell that information to interested parties (collection agencies/repo men for example).

        This is despite the fact that data mining as a discipline is still relatively young. Since data mining is such a profitable discipline, it is almost guaranteed to develop at a m

        • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday June 18, 2010 @12:07AM (#32609712)

          There are companies that exist now whose sole purpose in life is to pull together peoples' personal information from disparate sources, combine that information into astonishingly detailed profiles of just about anyone in the United States, and sell that information to interested parties (collection agencies/repo men for example).

          ChoicePoint. And they got caught selling information to criminals (and I don't mean just the corporate type) as well as suffering some severe security breaches. Not a good thing at all, and when I heard about that it made me question the validity of their business and whether it's worth the risk to society.

          This is despite the fact that data mining as a discipline is still relatively young. Since data mining is such a profitable discipline, it is almost guaranteed to develop at a much faster pace than our ability to obfuscate our personal identity.

          The problem here is that when you accumulate too much of just about anything it becomes dangerous. Put a hundred tons of TNT in a warehouse ... sooner or later someone is going to get hurt. The same thing happens when you collect terabyte after terabyte of personal data and store it away. Yes, it's valuable ... but just as we have restrictions on how explosives can be transported and stored, we need some serious regulation of how and why corporations can store personal data, and when they must, by law, divest themselves of it. Unfortunately, governments (specifically I'm talking about mine, the United States Federal Government) view these giant private data stores as a way to perform data mining that would be illegal as hell if they were to try and do it themselves. So there's little motivation on the part of our lawmakers to try and do anything about this issue.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        Yes, but how do you set the expiration date on that data? Information doesn't decay as there is no biological (or other entropy-effected) component to it. I think anyone advocating a terminal date for any sort of data, without explaining how that date will be managed, is just setting themselves up for failure.

      • Similarly, telling someone where I live right now is less useful information as time goes by, as there's a chance I could have moved that increases with time.

        Cellphone numbers!

        I keep getting telemerketer calls on my cellphone meant for the guy who had that number assigend before me. And that even though there usually is a 6 months grace period before a phone number is assigned again.

        'Degrading' is the wrong word, as it would actually improve the quality of the data. (Less outdated data!)

      • by mrogers (85392)
        Using short-term (biodegradable?) identifiers is an interesting idea, but I think it goes against two of the reasons companies collect data in the first place. The first is to confirm that you're a real, tangible human being, which means they want to connect your present data to the past. The second is to bombard you with marketing crap for the rest of your life, which means they want to connect your present data to the future. So using short-term identifiers is no better aligned with their interests than d
    • Re:Great idea! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by martin-boundary (547041) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:18PM (#32607568)
      The value of information is not absolute. All it takes is the right kind of legislation, like what the EU privacy directives attempt to do, to change the value from positive to negative.

      With the right kind of laws in place, it would become much more onerous for a company to keep the data it collects longterm rather than throw it away as soon as possible.

    • I'd ask what he's smoking, but I think it's pretty obvious.

      Yup pretty obvious he has some Jeffrey. Also explains why the furry wall has a hole worn in it.

  • When we have AI strong enough to understand personal data Google will soon become a trillion dollar business because of all the data it has.
    • pfssst....they'll become a trillion dollar company anyway thanks to inflation. Although a Trillion dollars isn't what it used to be...

  • Benefit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:05PM (#32607416)

    Google could benefit from this according TFA? Seriously? Giving up data on their customers and replacing it with less useful data benefits them? I seriously doubt it. Especially since we've already seen what people in general think about privacy.

    No, if Google wanted to go down that road, it would be MUCH smarter to allow people to specify how much of their personal data Google can have, and have a way to remove that data at any time.

    • Re:Benefit? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @07:25PM (#32608144) Journal
      It might help them retain customers. The two reasons that I switched to using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine were the user interface and the privacy policy. The do a double-bounce trick when you leave the site to block the referrer information, so even if a site is running Google analytics, Google does not get information on my search terms. If they had a better privacy policy (and hadn't spent a lot of effort this year making their user interface worse), I might still be providing them with that data.
      • by kestasjk (933987) *
        I think Google knows which side its bread is buttered on; if/when a better privacy policy becomes beneficial for its bottom line it'll adopt one. Until then I doubt DuckDuckGo is a significant threat
      • by dwye (1127395)
        You are not Google's customer, but the resource that Google's customers, the advertisers, pay to get info about. Since millions of other people don't mind giving Google their searching history, they will not care that you withhold yours, even if you are Bill Gates III.
        • by vakuona (788200)
          Customers aren't necessarily the people paying the money, at least, not directly. Google users are paying Google indirectly.
      • Why do you have a problem with people knowing what you searched for to get to their site? Didn't you want to go to their site? Letting a website owner know how and why you got to their site ultimately helps them make a better site for you to use.

      • "Hang on, I am going to duckduckgo 'Can Pelicans eat cats'."
        "Hey Guys, try duckduckgo'ing "Cat Farts" in youtube!"
        "I didn't find anything when I duckduckgo'ed it."

        Oh yeah, this is going to take off like hotcakes.
        Google, watch out!

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      However, because of the data Google collects from their users, they are in a better position to know (1) who doesn't like their personal data stored, (2) what data shouldn't be stored, and (3) what is the optimal data degradation/removal to be used for said person.

      It's the same with ads. You might say "Let me choose my own ads!" but Google knows better than you do what you like.

    • Yes! Google can benefit form this. Here's how:

      1: Widely advertise how it is helping users by letting data gracefully degrade.
      2: Set the age it starts to degrade long after the time they're presently deleting the information (and only for information they're already deleting)
      3: Pretend they're doing the users a favor while actually keeping more data, longer.
      4: Apply this principal to any data they want to keep.
      5: Profit!
    • Google could benefit from this according TFA? Seriously? Giving up data on their customers and replacing it with less useful data benefits them?

      Well, yes.

      They only need to relize that wrong, outdated data isn't an asset anymore, but a liability as it might lead to costly mistakes.

  • by spartacus_prime (861925) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:07PM (#32607432) Homepage
    Once you post something on the Internet, it doesn't really disappear. I Google myself from time to time and am shocked to find profiles on websites I haven't visited in ages. Periodically purging data would be a better idea, but then these providers would miss out on all the money they get from selling said data.
    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      I Google myself from time to time and am shocked to find profiles on websites I haven't visited in ages.

      I hate finding profiles on websites I have NEVER visited. Data miners like pipl, mylife, intelius, cogmap and spock have created profiles for me based on stuff as simple as a friend's blog containing my full name. It's annoying when you can't take the stuff down because technically you don't own the data. It's more annoying when I just want my cool stuff to float up so employers see my real-life achievements. Apparently the above crawlers don't give a hoot about factoring achievements in, so they just displ

  • by earls (1367951) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:08PM (#32607450)
    Then I'd stop finding two and three year old solutions to new problems in new versions of software. Yeah, you can "filter" Google search results by date, but filter features are mediocre at best... And I'm unaware of a way to make them persistent. The majority of my Google search now-a-days end up as "searchterm" and then twenty "-negativekeywords" following it.
    • by corbettw (214229)

      Yeah, you can "filter" Google search results by date, but filter features are mediocre at best.

      That's because data doesn't have a "best by" date. The reason your search results suck is the same reason this entire enterprise will fail spectacularly: data doesn't naturally expire, and there is no physical mechanism by which it would.

    • Here's an idea. Try using the same words other people use to describe things.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Your data chances over time. What is marketable to you will change with age, income, politics, hormone changes, you name it. This makes sense to me.

  • The premise is wrong. Non-digital data fades because it takes considerable effort to prevent it doing so; it takes up room (so it gets chucked out), gets pissed on by cats, eaten by rats, set on fire, contaminated with fungus, made into paper aeroplanes.

    A hard drive full of data doesn't really require much more care and feeding than an empty one; to selectively retire shit off it actually requires effort - and who can be arsed? Not me.

    • I don't understand the purpose of this either but it wouldn't necessarily take much effort. Something like a days_to_live attribute on each field in a database might be enough and it only needs to be set once, when the db is created.
      • Sure, you can create the field, and the db can delete those records when the time comes. But that won't delete the same records from backups, replicated copies, etc. So it wouldn't be all that difficult to access data which should have been forgotten. OTOH, for many practical purposes the data would be gone, so I guess it would be an improvement.

      • Right, because only one copy of any particular item of data ever exists.

  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:13PM (#32607516) Homepage Journal

    We'll learn to deal with the fact that people mature over time and the things they do when very young might not represent them when they're older. This lengthening of memories should let us mature a bit rather than try to hide in the bush.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Enough people will have so much stupid stuff recorded no one will care anymore. That will be a good day.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by by (1706743) (1706744)
      Indeed; when the generation which grew up on myspace and facebook produces "important" people (e.g., congresspeople, senators) it's likely that the only candidates with no dirt on them are the ones who were socially inept in their college days.

      Come to think of it, that might give the /. crowd something of an edge...
    • by ^_^x (178540)

      That would be great. Unfortunately something like that still counts as a profound personal realization, and while you may be so enlightened, it won't stop others from holding something you said when you were 12 on a random message board against you till the day you die.

      Personally I just change pseudonyms from time to time, but that can be hard in cases where you have an active group of friends who knows one name. If you publicly refer to the change, to a data harvester it's as good as using the old name.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:26PM (#32607634) Homepage

      I'm a bit torn. I don't think you're wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people end up sort of "branded for life" because their personal info never goes away. It'd be nice to think we could all "grow up", but... well, have you met people? Like, in real life, have you talked to real people about stuff? Do you really think they're going to "grow up"?

      On the other hand, you're right that this level of information probably shouldn't matter, and perhaps our culture will evolve to deal with having this level of information available. Also, I somewhat like the idea of having so much historical information available; perhaps one day our computers will be able to do interesting things with this glut of information.

      Either way, I'm going to stick to the good old strategy of using aliases, and hope that nobody ever realizes that "nine-times" is really "Bill Gates".

    • I don't mind google spying on me because they promised they wouldn't be evil.

    • That ignores the presumed fact that things you do in the past do tend to represent people's behaviour when they're older. The humane and mature (and even the sensible) way would be to ignore this, but those are not always categories for businesses hiring or insurance companies.

    • by tool462 (677306)

      Perhaps, but I'm more inclined to think that those who are best able to control their personal information will be king.

      The vast majority of us will have a thorough enough record of our past deeds and misdeeds to be torn down at any time by anybody who would wish to do so.
      In theory, mutually assured destruction should prevent anybody from wanting to.
      The ones who will be successful in doing so, however, will be the ones with less dirt to dig through.

      I personally think we should just get the internet really r

  • by maxwells_deamon (221474) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:13PM (#32607524) Homepage

    Must be some sort of firm policy or they will be accused of selective policy.

    Also, "Degrade" implies slow and gradual steps to me. How can this be done? Slowly randomly corrupt it?

    Imagine the programing updates. These fields can be trusted if d_update 6 but otherwise...

    A staged firm policy I could see. But if you miss a deadline or get ahead, then the lawyers eat you up. Also backups? Keep it, or nuke it. Allow access control to increase perhaps.

    • Hard drives fail. Google has a lot of hard drives and enough of them fail that they can publish papers comparing reliability of disks from different manufacturers, in different conditions, and so on. They work around this problem through replication. Picking some made-up numbers, let's assume a hard drive has a 10% chance of failing each year. If you store data on three drives, then the probability that you will have it in a year's time is 99.9% (three things with a probability of 10% have to happen for

      • by net28573 (1516385)
        this makes sense considering the storage mechanism is magnetism. magnetic fields or a magnets strength do decrease over time. this is why im old fassioned and just use dvd discs to store my data on. it takes a log longer but with two backups being backed up every year its a lot cheaper in price but more expensive in time used.
  • by The Wild Norseman (1404891) <tw,norseman&gmail,com> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:15PM (#32607542)

    Dutch researcher Harold van Heerde discussed his work on the idea of allowing data to becomes less specific over time. Letting the specifics gradually disappear could protect consumer privacy while also meeting the needs of service providers

    Sorta like me, for example?

    The Wild Norseman -->

    A Norseman -->

    Some Guy -->

    A Person, Place or Thing -->

    A Nobody -->

    Anonymous Coward

  • Except in Australia...

  • I don't see this happening. The "GoogleSphere" revolves around leveraging personal information. It's *ALL* about data mining and relationships.

    You know, Google isn't the only one, organically your info can live in the Intertubes forever. It's up to the indevidual to protect their personal information, not blame someone else for their own stupidity of telling everyone on Facebook or whatever that they like to feel up boys while loaded on malt beer...
    • by blair1q (305137)

      And the "FirefoxSphere" is all about keeping Adblock turned on, and wondering what everyone's being so fussy about.

    • by joh (27088)

      Yeah, but with more and more "personal" computing happening in "the cloud" people will hardly know that their data is *not* (only) on their device. I mean, putting something up at facebook is one thing but using all the fine and free Google apps on your Android phone is different, isn't it?

      No, it isn't. A whole fucking lot of your personal data ends up on Google's servers, mail, calendar, chats, navigation data, voice profile, ad-tracking, search terms, whatever. It's not only things you put up for others,

      • Yeah, but with more and more "personal" computing happening in "the cloud" people will hardly know that their data is *not* (only) on their device.

        Once again, you are personally responsible for what personal info you put out there. I don't use "the cloud".

        • by joh (27088)

          Yeah, but with more and more "personal" computing happening in "the cloud" people will hardly know that their data is *not* (only) on their device.

          Once again, you are personally responsible for what personal info you put out there. I don't use "the cloud".

          This is very clever of you. But suppose millions of people do? Should everyone know where every bit of data on every device goes before he uses it?

          Anyway. So you're saying people should not use Android? Or Bing or assisted GPS? Because, whenever you use AGPS (very convenient that) you "put your location out there". You're saying people should know that and shouldn't use AGPS then? Good luck with that.

          The thing is that you don't "put info out there". That info is taken from you and you're seduced by some "fr

          • This is very clever of you. But suppose millions of people do? Should everyone know where every bit of data on every device goes before he uses it?

            When you put your personal information on the Internet, you accept that you lose control over that info. Or, you are an idiot. Which is it?

            • What about when OTHERS put information about you - without your consent?

              • You gave those OTHERS that information.

                Secrets are things you don't tell other people.

                • No you didn't.

                  They grabbed it without asking.

                  Google Street View, Enemies Gossiping, CCTVs, medical records leaked, photos of you without asking, stolen database information (not internet damn could be even HOTEL BOOKINGS, CREDIT CARDS), year of graduation,

                  you don't even need to ever own a computer or use the internet to have your information and privacy plundered from you and fed to countless databases and finally the internet.

  • "Marriage counselors say the subject of arguments should 'degrade' — becoming less specific over time — to protect spousal sanity. Rather than building a huge grudge and holding on to it as long as legally possible, typical marriages should allow the grudge to degrade over time, according to marriage counselors. In an interview with the BBC this week, Dutch researcher Harold van Hashpipe discussed his work on the idea of allowing the subjects of fights to becomes less specific over time. Letting
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @06:45PM (#32607788)

    ... because there are so many other alternatives to tracking users and users being too stupid to know about them. i.e. flash. There are all sorts of ways of figuring out who is browsing which, you should look at the number of you're loading data from/sending data to with noscript on. Data degradation would not do anything to stop techniques and companies who collect the same or more data under the radar through "legitimate" means.

  • The law has a similar provision. I think it would be a good thing as well as a bad thing considering the situation; however, I also think it is necessary. Reading some of the comments such as there should be an inference that people get older and wiser only suffices if everyone recognizes that as fact. The point is, if there is information to help someone gain at your expense, they WILL use it. Limitations are more than useful in this case. Have you ever made a mistake you would rather forget... forev
  • I think the key to it all would be logical aggregation.

    Consider I do a search for "e3 2010" today. I'm sure millions have. For the moment, it's *ahem* important that Google knows exactly who I am so it can create targeted ads for me. But by next year, or the year after, what's the point?

    Over time, change from the individual to the demographic. Out of those millions, there has to be at least a few that are of the same age, gender, geographic location, etc. as me. Does it really matter that *I* did it or that

  • I would tend to argue that personally identified data will increase in value the longer data stream in continuous.

    Imagine a 1 year study vs a 20 year study.

    The fact is that we are at the very tip of this phenomena.

    You could then even perhaps begin predicting large trends over the order of decades, based on individual inputs from the boots on the ground, everywhere reporting streams of identifiable information.

    The data may be less valuable to you in terms of your own utility but do not imagine for a moment t

    • > The data may be less valuable to you in terms of your own utility but do not
      > imagine for a moment that it degrades in value to the archivists.

      I think it does, for pretty much everyone except perhaps government. People change over time. Knowing what sort of clothing you were buying five years ago is of much less interest to advertisers than is information about your current fashion statement. In fact old data may even be of negative value if it lacks any sort of timestamp.

      • by jvkjvk (102057)

        If you can't see how trending data over long timeperiods with minutely tracked detail could be important to entities other than governments, I can't really help you with that. Just because you can't figure out a use for it don't discard it as having "negative value"

        In fact, old data having no timestame being of negative value is totally false, too. It will entirely depend on the heuristics and algorithms applied to that data. The lack of a datafield signifies something as well, and information can be ext

  • Some local people think phone books (white pages), court announcements are hurting privacy.

    Personal data is not secret.

    The problem is that people with our personal data can harm us. Making profit from our data is not a crime, but hurting us, steeling money from our account, sent us spams were.

    It is not a solution to lock down all personal data, which we will give away for good reasons.

    It is to prevent someone to hurt us with our personal data. That is what going to be useful.

    Europeans were very stupid, in t

    • > Personal data is not secret.

      Some is, some isn't. The problem is that most people have exaggerated notions about what is private and labor under the delusion that it is possible to own information.

      Whenever you reveal a fact about yourself to anyone that fact becomes as public as they want to make it. You might be able to sue them if they signed a contract agreeing to keep it secret (a privacy statement on a Web site is not a contract) or file a complaint against them under some misguided "privacy" law

  • Stupid phrasing (Score:3, Informative)

    by JakeD409 (740143) on Friday June 18, 2010 @01:58AM (#32610214)
    companies such as Google should allow the data to degrade over time

    Phrasing like this pisses me off. If Google's data degraded over time, it's not that they'd be "allowing" it to degrade, they'd have to do extra work and write extra code to force it to degrade. Saying "allow" implies that degrading is what data do naturally, and that Google is somehow artificially preserving it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by The MESMERIC (766636)

      But Google is ARTIFICIALLY preserving it.
      It is called PageRank. It strengthens OVER time.

      (Damn I give up!)

  • This advice doesn't make sense. Why should it degrade? They shouldn't record it in the first place! What private information do they need to "improve their service"? If they don't sell our personal data, then they shouldn't record it!
    • One of the reasons:

      Because some people have been accused of crimes they did NOT commit.

      The news went viral. Blogs, forums, web news won't bother removing the article.

      Their names have been tarnished - forever. And there is nothing they can do about it.

      So I see this as a good thing. If a person is guilty he should be in Jail.

      Another reason:

      Because we grow up, because we may do things we regret. Say trolling or posting a pic of someone in an embarrassing situation - pretty unfairly.

      The internet shouldn't be so

      • One more reason:

        Because some data is wrong fixed and is consistently overwriting over the present one.

        Take Google Maps for Example.

        It sometimes add companies (automatically), damn even HOSPITALS with older details.

        The secretaries, even managers are very clueless how to go about fixing this.

        You can't contact Google, try - there is no support.

        They are made to feel guilty, but damn it was Google that picked an old information (of 3 years back) and put it on #1 for that Hospital.

        That OLD data gets fed back into

      • Let me say this again more clearly, why should it degrade when instead they shouldn't have any of your data IN THE FIRST PLACE. You don't have to degrade what you don't have.
  • that the value of 'personal data' degrades automatically over time. people change, interests fade quickly, data like that is probably useless after one week in this add stressed out world
  • From what I read the delete forever doesn't necessarily delete from their servers. If I indicate delete forever I'd like to think it's you know, deleted forever

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