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Demand Your Data From Google, Facebook, Says Father 'Net

By - Source: The Guardian | B 20 comments

All that data siphoned by Google, Facebook and other websites could be used to create personalized services, says the creator of the Internet.

Three decades after creating the World Wide Web, MIT professor Tim Berners-Lee says that users should demand their personal information from the likes of Google and Facebook which literally siphons data from its users. He says that Web surfers have no idea how valuable their personal information really is to these large companies, echoing criticisms of late stating the same thing. Even more, these "silos" are storing piles and piles of data that the consumer doesn't have and so far really can't use.

"My computer has a great understanding of my state of fitness, of the things I'm eating, of the places I'm at," he told The Guardian in an interview. "My phone understands from being in my pocket how much exercise I've been getting and how many stairs I've been walking up and so on."

He noted that Google now offers immediate access to all data it holds on users. On the Facebook front, the social network will send users their data in one large file although it can take up to three months to receive the information. But what needs to happen is for all companies to agree on a standard output so that consumer devices like desktops, tablets and smartphones can gain access and provide personal, customized services like suggesting what the user should read in the morning.

"It will know not only what's happening out there but also what I've read already and also what my mood is, and who I'm meeting later on," he suggested.

Previously he warned that social-networking "silos" and closed networks like Apple threaten the very openness and universality that he and his fellow architects saw as central to the Internet's design. But he also pointed out that websites come and go no matter how popular and large they are, and that users should back up that information as if they're backing up a hard drive.

"Whatever social site, wherever you put your data, you should make sure that you can get it back and get it back in a standard form," he said. "And in fact if I were you I would do that regularly, just like you back up your computer … maybe our grandchildren depending on which website we use may or may not be able to see our photos."

The problem with Facebook and information stored in Apple's native apps is that it can't be indexed by search engines, thus a good portion of the information is lost. "Every time somebody puts a magazine on a phone now and doesn't put it on to a web app [a form of open software] you know we lose a whole lot of information to the general public discourse – I can't link to it, so I can't tweet it, I can't discuss it, I can't like it, I can't hate it," he said.

To read the full interview, head here.

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  • 13 Hide
    nebun , April 19, 2012 6:49 AM
    besplatanI don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect. They offer useful and free (or "free") services, and in return they get data that gives them a better idea of what products to offer me. Where's the downside in that?

    nothing is free...remember that
  • 13 Hide
    Verrin , April 19, 2012 6:50 AM
    besplatanI don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect. They offer useful and free (or "free") services, and in return they get data that gives them a better idea of what products to offer me. Where's the downside in that?


    I think you missed the point entirely.
Other Comments
  • -4 Hide
    besplatan , April 19, 2012 6:25 AM
    I don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect. They offer useful and free (or "free") services, and in return they get data that gives them a better idea of what products to offer me. Where's the downside in that?
  • 13 Hide
    nebun , April 19, 2012 6:49 AM
    besplatanI don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect. They offer useful and free (or "free") services, and in return they get data that gives them a better idea of what products to offer me. Where's the downside in that?

    nothing is free...remember that
  • 13 Hide
    Verrin , April 19, 2012 6:50 AM
    besplatanI don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect. They offer useful and free (or "free") services, and in return they get data that gives them a better idea of what products to offer me. Where's the downside in that?


    I think you missed the point entirely.
  • 8 Hide
    amigafan , April 19, 2012 6:51 AM
    Nothing is ever free (pun intended on besplatan's nick). Some of us wouldn't mind paying a reasonable fee for a good service if it came with (if not protection then at least) respect of privacy.

    Big companies (like Google) offer no alternative, they give great (even essential) services but strictly under their own terms.
  • -1 Hide
    besplatan , April 19, 2012 6:59 AM

    Sure (that's why I put the free in quotes), but I really fail to see the downside. Basically Google is a giant machine that wants to find out what my heart desires, and then give it to me, usually at lower prices than stores I might pass by just walking around or that my friends might recommend. Additionally, Google will let me research products it's offering through ads, so I can find the best deal or an alternative (that doesn't even have to advertise through Google).

    If I wanted to have a person do what Google is doing, I'd have to give them a lot more than my personal information. Meanwhile, Google is not only doing it for "free", it's also giving me Android, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Docs, and lots of other stuff, just for the opportunity to find out what makes me tick and give their customers/advertisers a chance to make me happy.

    That's at least how I see it.
  • 9 Hide
    billybobser , April 19, 2012 7:52 AM
    When I don't have adblock, the google ads tend to advertise what I recently looked out.

    Defeating any purpose of collecting my data and would generate 0 sales.

    It was just an annoying reminder about what I wasn't interested in.

    Bravo!

    Adverts these days, despite the massive amounts of data collected, are completely rubbish at selling things.
  • 3 Hide
    guardianangel42 , April 19, 2012 9:32 AM
    besplatanSure (that's why I put the free in quotes), but I really fail to see the downside. Basically Google is a giant machine that wants to find out what my heart desires, and then give it to me, usually at lower prices than stores I might pass by just walking around or that my friends might recommend. Additionally, Google will let me research products it's offering through ads, so I can find the best deal or an alternative (that doesn't even have to advertise through Google).If I wanted to have a person do what Google is doing, I'd have to give them a lot more than my personal information. Meanwhile, Google is not only doing it for "free", it's also giving me Android, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Docs, and lots of other stuff, just for the opportunity to find out what makes me tick and give their customers/advertisers a chance to make me happy.That's at least how I see it.


    The downside is this: Google, Facebook, and Twitter's only motivations to not abuse your privacy is the letter of the law in whichever country you live in. They would make significantly more money if they could easily sell that information to the highest bidder. As of right now, most major companies are following that letter relatively well.

    So long as these corporations continue to act as benefactors, your scenario is completely valid. However human nature being what it is, it would be naive to believe that that will always be the case.

    This privacy bubble will burst when the next Enron or Bernie Madoff shows up. A corporation or individual that maintains a facade of morality while finding loopholes in, or outright breaking, the law to get ahead.

    Privacy is a commodity, and it is in many corporations interests to take advantage of it. People don't like the current trend because of this highly likely possibility. That's the problem.
  • 1 Hide
    del35 , April 19, 2012 12:02 PM
    Quote:
    Previously he warned that social-networking "silos" and closed networks like Apple threaten the very openness and universality that he and his fellow architects saw as central to the Internet's design.


    I have been saying this for years. Apple is also destroying technology and replacing with hype like its Samsung manufactured retina display. The sooner we trash Apple and its iJailedyou locked down devices the sooner the march of technology will resume.

  • 1 Hide
    del35 , April 19, 2012 12:10 PM
    Quote:
    I don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect.They offer useful and free (or "free") services...


    Prison inmates get free services like food, medicine, water, tv, a bed, a total lack of having to take care of their destination in life. In brief, prison certainly relieves inmates of the responsibility of being free or having a private sphere.
  • -1 Hide
    alidan , April 19, 2012 1:13 PM
    i get many services for free that i would most likely have to pay 15-20$ a year for if it wasn't for ads

    google wants to exploit that by gearing ads tward me... go for it, i do not care...

    my infromation is out there and probably enough for identity theft because doctors, hospitals, and employers are incompetent at their jobs of privacy protection. but online, i dont think enough info has ever been give out for true id theft.
  • 2 Hide
    Zetto , April 19, 2012 1:18 PM
    besplatanI don't care what personal information Google and Facebook collect. They offer useful and free (or "free") services, and in return they get data that gives them a better idea of what products to offer me. Where's the downside in that?


    The downside is you will see the world and internet filtered through google glasses, you'll see only what they decide you want to see, not what you want.
    See the irreversible danger in that?
  • -1 Hide
    bigbaconeater , April 19, 2012 2:24 PM
    del35I have been saying this for years. Apple is also destroying technology and replacing with hype like its Samsung manufactured retina display. The sooner we trash Apple and its iJailedyou locked down devices the sooner the march of technology will resume.


    Talk about complete bias. This article has NOTHING to do with Apple, yet without fail someone else has thrown in an anti-Apple remark. I am not even an apple user, but that's just bias
  • 3 Hide
    Verrin , April 19, 2012 2:47 PM
    bigbaconeaterTalk about complete bias. This article has NOTHING to do with Apple, yet without fail someone else has thrown in an anti-Apple remark. I am not even an apple user, but that's just bias


    "Nothing"? You must have missed the part where the article specifically addresses Apple.
  • -1 Hide
    besplatan , April 19, 2012 3:54 PM
    guardianangel42The downside is this: Google, Facebook, and Twitter's only motivations to not abuse your privacy is the letter of the law in whichever country you live in.

    Same goes for governments, who historically have had a far worse record than corporations in abuses of rights, and not just the right to privacy.

    At least a corporation ultimately has to make you happy, because you're giving your money voluntarily, and none of their motivations include your death, imprisonment or poverty.
    [/quote]
  • 0 Hide
    etudions , April 19, 2012 4:17 PM
    Never say never, there is always something to try.
  • -2 Hide
    ankaj , April 19, 2012 4:53 PM
    del35I have been saying this for years. Apple is also destroying technology and replacing with hype like its Samsung manufactured retina display. The sooner we trash Apple and its iJailedyou locked down devices the sooner the march of technology will resume.


    I am curious exactly what technology has Apple destroyed? I will agree that they do not invent much of what they sell currently, but they do package existing technologies up very nicely.
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , April 20, 2012 12:23 AM
    besplatan
    guardianangel42The downside is this: Google, Facebook, and Twitter's only motivations to not abuse your privacy is the letter of the law in whichever country you live in.Same goes for governments, who historically have had a far worse record than corporations in abuses of rights, and not just the right to privacy. At least a corporation ultimately has to make you happy, because you're giving your money voluntarily, and none of their motivations include your death, imprisonment or poverty.

    Most probably you remember in the 70s/80s Bayer spreaded AIDS and hepatitis C all around the world with contaminated haemophilia products. By the time CDC and FDA knew all about it and the only thing they worked really hard on was to contain the scandal. What I mean is that the Government is not always the source of corruption but the means for the corporation to spread their power and increase margins. According to the concept of globalization expanding corporations such as the aforementioned have acquired enough resources to corrupt governments all around the globe in order to keep their expansion going free of regulation hence we're to see the rise of an empire of globalitarism - totalitarism sponsored by corporations. And Apple is sure to be among the very few corporations to rule peoples' desires and needs.
    [/quote]
  • 0 Hide
    del35 , April 20, 2012 4:21 AM
    Quote:
    Talk about complete bias. This article has NOTHING to do with Apple, yet without fail someone else has thrown in an anti-Apple remark. I am not even an apple user, but that's just bias


    Apple has a bias against people who love freedom in technology. You are reversing the whole analysis and blaming the victims.
  • 0 Hide
    del35 , April 20, 2012 4:29 AM
    Quote:
    I am curious exactly what technology has Apple destroyed? I will agree that they do not invent much of what they sell currently, but they do package existing technologies up very nicely.


    The whole idea that hype, shine and iJailing is more important than substance and open standards is Apple main contribution and perhaps its only contribution to technology. Take their hyped Samsung manufactured Retina display. Talk about a total lack of technological vision hyped-up as something great to lure technologically clueless Zombies to buy their locked-down drm infested overpriced trap-boxes.

  • 0 Hide
    UmeNNis , April 20, 2012 5:25 AM
    ...I thought Al Gore created the internet?
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