Month: June 2013

VRM growing in the garden of privacy concerns

With Swedes: Closet VRM activists?T.Rob gives us a typically deep VRM post, exploring new territory, or old territory in a new way. The context (and the subject of an interesting thread on the ProjectVRM list) is the news behind headline of a Simon Davies post: Sweden’s data protection Authority bans Google cloud services over privacy concerns. Sez T.Rob,

So the big problem with privacy, VRM tools and the cloud isn’t that the technology needs to be invented, but rather that the current IT culture assumes the vendor has rights rather thanprivileges to harvest and exploit your data and that you must opt out rather than opt in.  If you start with an assumed right to the data, then of course the apps that get built ignore existing privacy enhancing technology.

T.Rob raises some creative existing solutions to password problems — solutions that have thus far been outside of VRM conversations. A concern I have, within VRM conversations, is framing solutions in terms and contexts of the existing marketing system, which is getting more and more complicated by the day. For a better look at that, see this post from January, and Don Marti’s first comment there, which points to this post here.

Having spent most of the last month outside the U.S., what I gather is that privacy is just as big a deal elsewhere — just a somewhat different deal. Here privacy is seen in terms of prophylaxis — and sometimes not-very-good prophylaxis. (Do Not Track, for example, is like hanging garlic on the door of your browser to ward off vampires.) In Canada and Europe it’s seen as an essential attribute of civilized life: one that must be designed into software, services and infrastructure. Leading influences on this approach are Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, and her office’s Privacy By Design initiative.

In fact we’ve had privacy by design for a long time in the physical world. Clothing, for example, is a privacy system. We use it to cover our “privates,” among other things. But, while we’ve had civilization for thousands of years, we’ve had the Net for only a couple decades or so. We have a long way to go. But we’ll get where we’re going faster if we’re not re-inventing the same wheels.

And I think we’ll get there better if we ground what we do in a clear understanding of what privacy is, and why it needs to guide the stuff we create and improve.

Can C2B customers lead in a dance with vendors like B2B customers do?

That question came to mind when I read Inside Facebook’s Fantastic Plan To Dominate Cisco’s $23 Billion Market, by Julie Bort, in Business Insider. The gist:

To recap: OCP launched two years ago to create “open source” data center hardware. That means hardware vendors like HP, Dell and Cisco don’t control the product designs. Instead, customers like Facebook and Goldman Sachs do.

OCP is the Open Compute Project.* What matters about the project, for our purposes, is that it models a way for a customer to relate to a vendor: taking the lead in the dance, rather than just following.

A question for VRooMers is, Can we as individual customers do the same thing? I’m thinking we can. One way is through personal clouds, including scenarios such as the one Phil Windley describes here. I am sure there are many others. So I’ll leave detailing those up to the rest of you. 🙂

*BI, like too many other ad-funded Web publishers, doesn’t link to OCP, but instead to its own page full of stories about OCP. This is unhelpful, selfish and at variance with nature of the Web itself.  More about that here. (BTW, I’m guessing that the choice not to link is BI’s policy and not Julie’s, and would welcome correction on that.)


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