Call me crazy, but it seems like when you get to use a free service or website that costs many millions of dollars to develop, giving the company access to your data is a fairly small price to pay.
I'm waiting for one of these legal actions to cause a company like Facebook to just shut down their service in the local area, and leave a landing page with the email addresses of all the politicians who provoked the outage.
Except I don't use Facebook. I don't use any Google service beyond the
occasional visit to Youtube, either. They still try to get my data. The amount
of filters, blacklists and blockers you need to be safe from these leeches is
utterly ridiculous. This has nothing to do with a free internet anymore.
If you consider handing you're data over to a company a "payment" for their
services, then what Facebook, Google and all these other Big Data companies
are doing to the people who don't use their services, yet are still tracked, is
nothing short of theft, and this needs to stop.
Besides, most people aren't even really aware of this "payment". They can't make
an informed choice - and it's of course not in the interest of Google or
Facebook to educate their users about this, even though it's their responsility,
nay, duty - and that needs to be made the law, because otherwise they sure as
hell won't move a finger.
And frankly, I don't give even half a shit for "intelligent services and
minimized user experiences" if they come at the cost of essential liberties. I
don't think I need to reproduce Franklin's famous quote here - it applies to
convenience just the same as to safety.
People in the EU (and Germany in particular) don't care for massive privately held databases that can be used to target individuals. They have had enough bad experiences with secret police forces, and that's why there are strict limits on data gathering and retention.
How many of these secret police forces were private? How many were govt police forces?
Politicians grandstand about the evils of companies, but the actual killing and torturing people is done by semi-popular govts.
Like the Mafia and Church of Scientology. And Blackwater. The East India Trading Company, or Coca Cola assassinating Labor Leaders in Columbia. IBM helped the Nazi's build the accounting machinery used by the concentration camps, requiring IBM to be well aware what was going on.
In some cases Corporations pay governments to do their dirty work. Sometimes the Government pays the corporation. Other times the corporation becomes the government. Sometimes the corporation just doesn't care. Regardless, can we please put aside this fiction that all the serious evils of the world are perpetrated by governments despite the best efforts of angelic businessmen? Pretending that as long as we keep the government in check all will be fine is idiocy and ignorance of the highest order. Excess power in any concentrated location is potentially problematic, regardless if it's held by 'private' or 'public' sectors. Those are labels for groups of people, nothing more.
> Regardless, can we please put aside this fiction that all the serious evils of the world are perpetrated by governments despite the best efforts of angelic businessmen?
No one is suggesting that business is angelic.
However, whenever someone points out that govts kill lots of people, govt apologists leap up to say "corps have killed too", ignoring the differenc in orders of magnitude.
Mote, beam and all that.
> Those are labels for groups of people, nothing more.
Not so fast. Those groups have very different behaviors and motivations.
The worst that you can say about a company is that it will try to make money from you and might take some action to stop you from interfering with its attempts to make money.
Govts regularly commit mass murder for basically no reason.
Govts have reasons, one of the most common is to protect or improve the status quo for the leaders. Not very different from companies.
You're ignoring the orders of magnitude.
Scale is a difference that you have to ignore to apologize for govts.
Well, that's true, and is the reason you can't trust facebook, as the patriot act gives the US government all the data that private American companies have, without you being notified.
Oh really? What private interests ran the USSR? China under Mao? The killing fields of Cambodia.
10s of millions of people killed....
Populist politicians, confused old people and outraged nerds don’t care for massive, privately held databases. The rest do.
It is quite possible that everyone in Germany is either a confused old person, an outraged nerd, or a populist politician trying to cash in on their senses. But I doubt that's exactly what you meant. ;-)
Ha ha. The successors to the Stasi are meant to ignore these laws. The purpose is to keep the technologies out of the hands of the Hans Q. Public.
Remember, the Stasi were first and foremost a populist movement, just like the Nazis before them. You don't get an informer in every family by tyrrany, you get it by willing collaboration, and the Germans have an authority worshipping streak a mile wide.
what? you're talking about eastern germany, with the wall that kept people from running away.
the Germans have an authority worshipping streak a mile wide.
what about the americans who move to berlin because they can hardly breathe in the USA anymore? you're operating under obsolete assumptions.
No, I live in it. And it did. Just think the green or now the pirate party - unthinkable decades ago.
But where did I claim Germany is super free and the best, ever? I was simply responding the claim that Germans are authoritarian/obedient by nature - which, ironically, strikes me as racist - and was taking a wild jab, hoping the poster I replied to might come from the US, and simply said Germany is way more free (and dare I say, laid back) in some respects than the US currently is.
That's all, you can dispute that if you want; but how do "all other countries" come into play here?
What about the americans who move to berlin because they can hardly breathe in the USA anymore? Since this happens, it shows that Berlin is a haven for people who feel oppressed.
That was my interpretation. You also said that the assumption of German strictness was outdated, implying that Germans have become more relaxed. Working with that interpretation, my point was that maybe Germany didn't get better, but the US got worse which by default makes Germany look better. I then implied that using Berlin as the capital of the free doesn't work, since there are more free places even in the EU. Basically: maybe Germany hasn't become more relaxed, but other places have become more strict. If I was looking to escape the tyranny of the US, I wouldn't think of going back home to Germany. The authoritarian nature of the US vs Germany reside on two entirely different and almost incomparable planes.
The US is not authoritarian, we are governed by a coalition of tyrants that have coopted the lawful government. The pendulum will swing back any year now when the shiny wears off Washington, D.C.
As for the other commenter's claim about Berlin, imagine this thought experiment: the self-proclaimed Messiah moves to Berlin, marries a gaggle of 16 year old brides, gets them all pregnant, and homeschools the offspring in riflery and Scientology. Would German officials have a violent allergic reaction? Yes! Because it goes outside the privileges they have deigned to grant their flocks. In the US that would be considered bizarre but not a proper matter for state intervention.
Unfortunately, using Facebook is hardly a free choice anymore. I personally don't use it, but I have no delusions about the cost that comes with resisting. You miss out on events, news and connections. And because of Facebook's ubiquity, no other social network is a complete substitute. Some employers and dating advice columnists even find it "suspicious" when someone isn't on Facebook:
So there's a lot of pressure to use it. And while you can choose not to have an account, you can't choose to live in a world where Facebook doesn't exist. Even if you never touch the site, people can take photos of you and write status updates about you and post them there, and that affects your privacy. A sociologist I follow has written a good (slightly more theoretical) analysis of this problem:
As for giving away your data being a "small price to pay", we'll have to disagree on that. Some people value their privacy more than others. And due to the above, we're limited in our ability to make an individual decision to preserve that privacy. Hence, I applaud the strict EU privacy laws and wish we had stronger privacy protections in the US as well.
If the personal data price is such a small to pay, convincing your users of that shouldn't be too much of a problem?
Hahaha. You are thinking like an American, not as an European.
If facebook is shut down in Europe you will be surprised at the outcome. People here trust the government and distrust companies. In USA it is the opposite.
email addresses of the politicians? :-DDDDDDDDDDDDD
No, seriously, you need to live some time in Europe to understand the culture here.
The average American distrust his government far more than an average "European".
Still haven't learned much have they.
If we're going to think of privacy invasions as "fees" for the service, let's consider another scenario. Imagine facebook was a paid service and you gave them your credit card. You had already consented to a price of $3, however without telling you they added a new service and changed the price to $5. Automatically you're billed for the bigger amount next month. If you don't want the new service you have to opt-out. Would that be equally okay?
This would be really interesting. But judging by the notorious German copycat startup industry, they would most likely develop a replica of that site.
On a more serious note: I noticed recently that a massive amount of music related videos are blocked on YouTube for all German IP addresses. Instead they show a notice, that the German music-rights organization is preventing this video to be played, i.e. Google has already entered the naming and shaming game. But there seems to be relatively little outcry and people apparently just accept it.
I guess people from outside of the US are already used to the fact that US based companies are often not acting in their best interest.
With a combined population of over 500 million inhabitants, or 7.3% of the world population, the EU, in 2011, generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 17.6 trillion US dollars, representing approximately 20% of the global GDP when measured in terms of purchasing power parity.
I'd like to see which company has the balls to pull out of that market.
Just to note: The "right to be forgotten" is not EU law yet. There are some changes to the EU Data Protection law coming up, that's one of them, but it's not EU law now.
Same here! They'd be heroes overnight.
Facebook clearly behaved intransparent and outright unfriendly with regards to data protection, therefor its fair to come down that hard on the service.
or can you name even just one other feature nobody else does better (and please don't let it be farmville). I couldn't think of one so far, any input would be appreciated..
At 28, you darn well better be taking care of yourself. However, I suspect you have not had to deal with adolescent children yet.
I believe one must be careful not to use the same means, even though improving the privacy of Facebook users and non-users alike is a worthy end.
This is not a German issue anyway. It's an EU issue. And the problem is companies compiling data on users without their permission (opt out rather than opt in).
If users aren't willing to opt in to your data collection, then you're not offering something worth the trade. Facebook and Google rely on peoples ignorance to make money.
It's ok to disagree with Google's and Facebook's behaviour and it's ok to take measures but I wish the media would focus on balanced and objective coverage, educating people rather than calling for drama and hysteria.
Gosh, I wonder why? I mean, what is it about German history - in particular - that would trigger such powerful negative reactions to the technical foundations of a surveillance state?
Nope, no idea.
There's no reason to take this as referring specifically to the 3rd Reich. Germany has a relatively recent tradition of civil liberties with a lot of abuses still in living memory, and many more abuses in the recent history books.
Keep in mind, if you were 18 when the Wall came down, you're only 41 today, so these aren't vague or abstract fears. You actually grew up with the world's most terrifying police force running microphones into your apartment. To give you some idea of how pervasive they really were, the Stasi had one informer per 6.5 people, which is practically a spy in every family. By comparison, the Gestapo employed one secret policeman per 2,000 people.
As the article above notes, "It was widely regarded as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world." And no, you don't go from escaping that to ignorant bliss in half a generation.
Generally there is a lot of bias against Google over here. This goes as far as publishers and newspapers heavy lobbying for a law that would force Google to pay for indexing content excerpts in Google News. And they almost got away with it. Of course as a publisher you were able to configure how and if Google should index your content (Headline only, headline + excerpt, full content or no indexing at all). However as you can imagine publishers weren't interested in that but preferred Google to pay for referring users to their content. It's insane.
The picture of Google that is painted here doesn't feel fair at all. Of course it's ok to disagree with Google's data collecting behaviour - you're free to use alternative services, there are enough options. But selling targeted ads simply is their business. Think about the alternative: Let's assume Google didn't collect that data - they still need to display ads though. Ads are still ads, but now they are a lot less relevant to you and simply guessing what you might be interested in.
I signed up to Facebook under a pseudonym recently, but with an old work email address. I only wanted it as a throwaway account. The auto friend suggests were there soon enough and uncanny. It took me a few moments to realise the links had been made through my email address. I had not shared address book data.
It became apparent that the suggestions were a result of other people's address books (not necessarily friends as it was a work address.)
Some suggestions were a bit of an enigma. I'm not sure how Facebook draws up these connections but I guess they'd taken friends of friends of those that had me listed in their address books.
What surprised me was that the address book data shared from the other accounts, was obviously kept with Facebook for later use. For some reason I thought it would be used once then thrown away (how naive of me.) It felt a little inappropriate to say the least. I felt my addressbook had been mysteriously revealed. This could potentially be abused (not sure if the suggestions came up, before I verified the address.)
Soon after, one of those suggested friends tried to friend me. I guess my account came up as a suggestion to them. A little revealing. I should have used a new email address to sign up I guess.
Privacy should be about the state first and foremost. Not private companies.
Microsoft started photographing a few months later and no one cared.
If you speak german Stefan Niggemeier just created a nice rundown of the events since 2009 that outlines how newspapers and publishers tried to cover the issue in their favor: http://www.stefan-niggemeier.de/blog/ein-kartell-nutzt-seine...
Don't they remember the last time somebody tried to get in the way of Google indexing their content?
As I recall, Google just took them entirely out of the index and then they changed their tune.
"All data collection should be opt-in" is overly simplistic. Google street view is, on the balance, a huge value and it's Germany's loss. I'm much less a fan of what Facebook. The details matter.
Therefore I'd imagine a similar response will be generated by FB if they are forced to comply with the latest complaint.
Clarification, in Ireland "Freedom of Information" is for government bodies. It's "Data Protection" law (which is the personal data of you held by anyone, government & private companies)
To be essentially the same, first US would sign Data Protection Directive, then Germany would request FBI to cooperate, and FBI would raid Facebook HQ.
Just about all extradition treaties require "double criminality", where the person is extradited on a thing that's a crime in both countries. The USA does not have these data protection laws, so the USA is highly unlike to extradite to a country where that's illegal.
As a result, I wouldn't be too suprised if some squeeze was placed on the Data Protection Office. "Oh you want more funding... Well..."
I wonder if this is one of the reasons the EU wants to overhaul the Data Protection law so that EU citizens can complain to their national data protection office, not just the one the company is in.
"Collected in Germany". It is nice to see how politics and law keep applying physical verbs to non-physical infrastructure. If you ask around you will see that there are almost as many definition of "done XXX in contry YYY" as the number of country out there: some national law see it as "the client is in YYY", other as "the server is in YYY", other as "the infrastructure is in YYY", other as "both the client and the server are in YYY" and so on.
It is very hard to be a law-abiding citizen or business on the Internet when there are heaps of contrasting laws.
But this is a minor convenience. If I really do want to tag a photo, then I'm already in a curation mindset and willing to put up with the precious second it takes to type in the first two-three characters of a friend's name.
At this point, FB, with those two characters, has enough information to make a 95% accurate guess...because it also has my entire history of interactions with friends, including all past tagging behavior. It obviously can derive a prediction that weights more recent tagging behavior (on the premise that I'm likely to have hung out with the same friends as I did last week)...and bingo, by the time I've typed the third character, Facebook has it narrowed down to the right person.
So why even bother keeping the facial recognition data?
...I'm not so naive to think that there aren't other applications of this facial-recognition data. I'm just pointing out that FB has nearly all the non-visual data needed to guess who is in a photo without applying any computer-vision techniques.
And that non-visual data (the history of a user's interactions) has way more predictive value on behavior than a facial-recognition DB... So given that the general public is more disturbed by things relating to physical appearance, if I were FB, I'd just give up this fight and carry on collecting all the non-visual data that they have so far.
Along the same lines...this decision seems to be based on how FB collected this data without users explicit consent. Well, under this argument, doesn't FB collect interaction data without user consent?
Say my friend Bob continually posts on my wall, pokes me, sends me direct messages, etc. FB, without my consent, will have enough interaction data to peg me as Bob's special confidante...without any interaction on my part.
Isn't this the complaint with the face data? That my friends can tag my face and thus give FB a decent idea of my appearance? Well, my friends can also give FB a decent idea of my preferences in a variety of arenas by how they converse and interact with me...so if opt-in is the issue, isn't all of FB data up for destruction?
Biometric data is usually a much more touchy subject than anything else. But yes there are also people who think that interaction data (logs) collection should be opt-in.
I so welcome their input and applaud their effort!
You might think: so what, I'm not a terrorist.
But think twice, because people opposing US interests (and the interests of some of the most powerful lobbies, like MPAA & RIAA) are increasingly being afforded the treatment you'd expect for a terror suspect.
Great great grandparent used the words increasingly and expect, not simply are.
What makes you think that? All the big telecom companies make "dirty money" by processing the millions of warrantless wiretap and information requests. Facebook probably already does too, it's not much of a difference between that and utilizing a face database.