I mentioned the predictable flap about Google violating users’ privacy expectations when they rolled out their Buzz social networking add-on. Imagine the outrage if the speed dial buttons on your cellphone were pre-populated with “friends” based on the stores your may have called on the phone or asked the directory services operator about. Imagine if Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes mail did what Google turned on with Buzz! Businesses need to expect this kind of thing from advertising supported IT.
The New York Times reports that over the weekend, Google continued to follow the predictable path that many other advertising and Internet companies have followed in the past when they go too far in using user information to make money:
- Introduce a new feature or offering that takes advantage of user data in ways users are sure not to like – but call the release “beta”
- Wait for the outrage, if none keep going. If outrage, goto (3)
- Apologize profusely, explain that privacy violating features were to make it easier for users
- Offer an opt-out capability buried a few menus or web screens or tabs down.
- Wait for outrage or FTC investigation, if none keep going. If outrage, goto (6)
- Promise FTC never to do this again, agree to security audits, keep trying to keep to opt-out and avoid opt-in
- Wait for press to lose interest, users to stop noticing the latest violation of their privacy. Goto (1).
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