Choice – The Lynchpin to Online Privacy
Choice – such a simple word, and yet so misunderstood when it comes to privacy. All I really want is a say in how people use my private data. I want to participate in the process vs. getting frozen out.
In the last few days Microsoft shipped the pre-release version of Windows 8. In doing so they stunned the online privacy community. There crime? They dared to make a choice for the user. In the browser they turned on the default setting for Do Not Track which offers the highest level of privacy.
Quelle Horreur (isn’t that awful). They made a choice for the consumer. The advertising community immediately launched a PR campaign decrying the approach. Let users make the choice on their own they screamed – and to some extent I have to agree. But (there’s always a but) you have to remember that Microsoft is a global OS company and ships their software to countries that have far more stringent privacy laws than ours. Nobody wants to ship an OS that by default opens them up to litigation.
And so they made a choice. In the US the W3C group tasked with coming up with a solution for online privacy is in a quandary. What should they do? Some want the default setting to be the same as Windows 8, and yet others (from the advertising community) argue for doing nothing (no settings are made).
I think we should add a single word here that can help us resolve this issue. “Informed” as in informed choice. If the W3C wants the default set to no settings, then they must offer a choice to the consumer when they go to install the browser.
Simply doing nothing is not a choice when it comes to privacy, and only perpetuates the already high levels of mistrust within the online community.