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Google, YouTube, Data

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Jul. 3rd, 2008 | 06:53 am

While reading my RSS feeds this morning I picked up this:
YouTube Must Give All User Histories To Viacom

After Scientology's DMCA request on Slashdot we made an active choice to squash data on users to limit the possibility of this sort of request. We randomized incoming trackable data on users and tossed everything but aggregate data for long term storage.


For one, we simply did not need to keep terabytes of log data sitting around collecting dust. Secondly, while the data might be useful for determining trends we risked our user's privacy. We believed this was unacceptable. One court request and we could be handing over who knows what to any company that could find an uneducated judge to sign away the privacy of millions. The data was just not that valuable.

What would I like to see?

Sites handing control of data retention over to users.

It would be good to see more sites give users the opportunity to have their tracking information removed after a period of time from companies databases.

We could start a trend by having websites publish data retention policies .

So what would it take to make this happen? Would peer pressure work? I am not in favor of creating more laws.

What if we petition sites to make steps in this direction. A few at a time, with a goal of long term of putting peer pressure on sites that do not follow the lead of user privacy oriented sites.

Is this too much too ask for?

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Comments {7}

(no subject)

from: jamesd
date: Jul. 4th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)

It's already the law here. A business is required to disclose why it wants information, not use it for purposes other than that and not to retain it any longer than required for those business purposes.

Now, time for me to consider using another law: compelling Google to provide to me all personally identifiable data it holds about me for a fee of about $20. Using my IP address as the personal identifier.

Viacom clearly has the technical capability to go from an IP address to a user based on the IP address and the ISP so the assertion that an IP address is not personally identifying is pretty ridiculous.

Someone also seems to have screwed up: IP addresses that have been modified so that one IP maps to a unique identifier that is not itself an IP address would presumably satisfy Viacom's information need without disclosing the actual IP addresses. I don't see why Google could not have offered that option and it seems that it most certainly should do so now since it's just suffered a significant loss of MY trust by possibly leaking some IP-related information it holds about me.

Peer pressure won't work. LiveJournal has a feature that marks entries as not for archiving by search engines. Google circumvents that by grabbing the RSS feed and ignoring the HTML setting.

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Brian "Krow" Aker

(no subject)

from: krow
date: Jul. 4th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)

Who knows how Google stores IP data, they may already do that.

But does everyone? No way.

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