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Wednesday, 20. September 2006 - 07:49

Data traces 3: Risks of the Web 2.0

Dieser Beitrag ist auch in deutsch verfügbar (empfohlen).

This is the third part of the series “data traces”, a bunch of posts that explain, where you leave intended or unintended data behind and why this is good or bad. You can find more information in the initation post of this series.

The web is changing. Daily. Houry... Tut, more often and much faster. Okay, you probably knowed that before. However: The web was changing in a never seen manner during the last months. It was reaching the next step of evolution. The people that are more or less compatible to the computer language would say: The web is growing into it's next version – into the Web 2.0. There are a lot of services, applications and philosophies that belong to the Web 2.0 and that you may have used before: You are reading blogs (for instance this site), you may have watched (private) Videos on YouTube, you are communication with a friend that uses GMail, the Wikipedia is your new standard reference book and you have listened to the one or the other Podcast. If these statements are more or less correct for you, you are in the middle of the current “Hype”, that has become in fact more than a Hype. Why can this be bad? I will show you...

The basic imagination of the “Founder” of the WWW was one of a for everyone readable as wells as writeable web. And that's the current development. In some minutes you can create your own blog and start writing without programming knowledge. But that's mostly the beginning. You know that from other blogs or private websites, where there are boxes somewhere which shows the most current fotos, (own) videos that are easily embeded and playable directly from the own website and perhaps there is a link or another special feature from a Web2.0 Service included. All these “cool things”™ are offered from services which are trying to help you, so you shouldn't have any problems to include all these “cool things”™ in your own website. Very easy, very self-generated, and preferably interesting.

And what's the problem with it and where are the bad decoys with that everyone can spy on me?

Okay, let's start from scratch. Let's assume you have created your own site and you are busy as a bee on posting what you comes in your mind. Your friends like it and are reading it and sometimes they even leave a comment. You have fun and you want to improve your page.
Like it was shown in the the first part of this series, you are findable via a search engine after some time. That's good, so there are more interested visitors finding your page.
Anytime you want to have show some photos to your friends. Photos for instance that show your last tent camp, the concert from yesterday or your new car. To do this in a comfortable way, you are registering yourself to a service like flickr and you're embeding the uploaded, commented and categorized into your site.

Your are also customer of Amazon and you're having your a wishlist their, to beat the people to it, that are asking you every year some weeks before your birthday is, what you want to have. Of course this list is linked from your website. Besides the bookmarks collection that is stored at del.icio.us – of course.

So, again: Why is this bad? There are two reasons:

  1. You are abandoning a lot of informations about you. Voluntary. That's okay, eventually the most readers of this blog are living in germany and there's the “Informational self-regulation” classified as basic right. But this can have consequences anyway. If someone is searching informations about you, you are heloing them, because it's really easy. if someone is feeling comfortable when his/her boss is reading along is an interesting discussion, but at the bottom line everyone has decide it by hisself/herself. However you have even to think about, what kind of picture a person can make about you, by just visiting your site: Some personell details are readable in your posts, from the photos you have included someone can see how you are looking and what weather it was during your last holiday. On your wishlist it's obvious that you want to read the german book “Zuckermond”, so you're sometimes grabing for erotical literature. Because of the “Imprint obligation” on german websites (on private websites, too, as far as I know), you are very closely identifiable. The question is: Do you really want this?
  2. Subject: Web Applications. Let's assume you have registered yourself at a Bookmarkingservice like del.icio.us and you're studiously collecting links from interesting articles and procducts you like. You are commiting relatively personel data to o company, that has of course access to this data. Depending on the philosophy of this company, this data may be used for other purposes. Because you are mostly registered with your email address (and depending on the service there are other critical data from you saved), it suggests itself, that the company is using your collected, commented and tagged recordsets in a userprofile, that is bundled with your email-address and a lot of other userprofiles und email-addresses and they sell it to advertisment companies, agencies or even worser to spammers. The best example is Google, especially GMail. Because with the services that Google is offering, they are able to collect galore data from you. With this reason in mind I recommend everyone to carefully read the privacy policies of such services and to ask the company if there are obscure paragraphs in it. That's mostly a bit annoying and not very interesting, but the policies are mosty not so long as for instance the general terms of online shops. In most of those privacy policies are clauses that the data are maybe used by dentures or partner companies. If that's true, take your finger away from those services and search for an alternative! Those policies are by the way the reason why I'm not having a Flickr account and why I'm using Spurl as my Social Bookmarking Service.
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