Consortium for Local Ownership and Use of Data, Inc.

Is Privacy a Uniquely Facebook Issue?

The past few days have seen a renewal of the conversation about privacy on Facebook. Articles of note include Privacy Advocates Slam Facebook Change and How Facebook is Making Friending Obsolete.

Protecting privacy isn't a challenge unique to Facebook. It was around long before the invention of HTML and Web sites 15 years ago, but those developments made the challenge acute. The pre-Web Internet was about connecting people directly, but the Web caused a reversion to publishing and broadcasting models. The Web and HTML have contributed to the growth of the Internet, but their main side effect has been to force us into silos to connect with each other. Facebook, with 350 million users, is one impressive silo, but more than 1.7 billion Internet users are spread among millions of other silos.

So, what does this mean for privacy? Today's Web-based approaches to privacy require that my identity and facts about me -- particularly "who I am" and "what I am" -- share the same data silos, whether on Facebook, at Amazon, or in my local DMV's e-renewal system. CLOUD's take on the Express Scripts data breach expands on how privacy can be even more critical in the realm of health information than elsewhere.

CLOUD is creating standards to make privacy an architectural issue with a structure to benefit all Internet users -- instead of making us dependent on the lowest common denominator of what particular Web sites happen to do with our information. By separating the "who" and "what" of identity into core components protected by a new contextual markup language, CLOUD plans to destroy our collective dependency on mass data aggregators like Facebook, not to mention schools, medical facilities, and businesses -- and restore genuine privacy control to individuals.

CLOUD will continue to develop its new approach to the Internet in the new year. Please join the conversation!

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