World Wide Web

Google search making use of Social Graph information???

Today, while I was searching for my name in Google, I saw that towards the end, it showed my Delicious bookmarks in the search results. There is definitely no occurrence of my name in the pages that were listed in the search results and the only connection I could see between ‘me’ and the search result is that I have bookmarked these links in Delicious.

Is Google making use of the Social Graph information that I provided while I was trying out Google Friendconnect? Doesn’t this raise privacy concerns?

World Wide Web

Privacy disasters with aggregation services

Imagine you have a host of aggregation services like Friendfeed, Tumblr, Suprglu, Lifestreams connected to each other, such that each one is reading from your various feeds and republishing the content.

Now imagine a disaster where one of these services, say Twitter, suddenly, because of some flaw, exposes your private messages.

It's like a Tsunami that cannot be controlled! Your private data would flow into various input streams in a matter of seconds and there is no turning back.

Things will only get worse with activity feeds and Beacon.

The bottom line is: Be careful about where your data is going and what data you put online.

World Wide Web

Public bookmarks, Private tags

Has anyone come across a bookmarking site that allows us to make bookmarks public, but attach private tags to them?

Here's the use-case:
Tags in my opinion are small bits of information that we attach to the entity under consideration. Now the entity itself may be public, but not the information that I attach to it.

To be more specific, let me tell you where I felt the need for this. When chatting with , I came across several books in Amazon. I started bookmarking these in delicious and attaching the tag bibliophile to them.

Then came a thought. How about storing information like whether I have read this book or not, what the number of this book is (I number all my books) and other information which might not be worthwhile to make public or for some reason does not seem appropriate.

In terms of implementation, I guess it is quite simple. You need to now track each tag and see if it is private or not (an extra field in the database) and then display them accordingly in the UI.

World Wide Web

Semantic web and privacy issues

Whoa! This is something interesting.

On one side are the people who are talking about making interesting analysis from information over the web and on the other side are people who are talking about its potential threat to privacy.

Well, I am talking about collecting data from various sources and then making interesting analysis from this data. And this data could be of facts, things or 'people'.

Entity analytics is not something new to the Semantic Web. There is some work going on in the field of Relationship resolution (Who is who), Identity Resolution (Who knows who) and Anonymous Resolution (Who is who and who knows who, anonymously). And this is really important because it helps organizations combat against frauds and threat.

But the concern raised in this article in BBC cannot be ignored. The most striking statement made here by Hugh Glaser, Southampton University, with reference to the web is, “All of this data is public data already. The problem comes when it is processed”.

You better leave the needle in the hay. Don't try to analyze and find out where I had been last Friday!

Ok, so what is the solution. Role based security at the data source level is something that I can think of. Build security into the core of the system. This way, no data can get out without people having proper access permissions.

Another solution is to make sure users 'mark' data as available for analysis and if so what kind of analysis. Using data for sampling (individuals being totally anonymous) might not be really bad.

Well, this is something that I feel are some solutions that might be considered to solve this problem. Time will tell.

World Wide Web

All your data is ours, but, but wait, what about privacy? contd…2

Context for this article:
1. All your data is ours, but, but wait, what about privacy?
2. All your data is ours, but, but wait, what about privacy? contd…

Guess what? It's been hardly 2 weeks since I blogged about it and here comes a tool which does it.

Omnidrive does it all. The creators say that it will be ubiquitos, unrestrictive and over all, users have their own private encrypted storage area. It also allows you to share files or publish it if you want to. (But is it going to be free?)

It is still not open for use. However you can sign up for beta-testing if interested.

World Wide Web

All your data is ours, but, but wait, what about privacy? contd…

I had recently blogged about privacy concerns with regard to storing data online. And this is what I found today: Do you trust Google?

Among the various things that the article mentions I found these interesting:

* Google working with scientists to make available data related to human genomes. (Now who is going to gift me Google Story?)

* Google providing personal data based on RFID tags.

What is Google upto?!

World Wide Web

All your data is ours, but, but wait, what about privacy?

It started with Gmail as far as I can remember. Google provided 1 GB of space and people thought why not store everything online. As I have already told a zillion times, this is what the single data source concept is all about. And now it is back with a bang, with Google Base.

But a thought struck me today.

How can we rely on people who we don't even know? What is the guarantee that Google will not misuse our data? You might say, “What will Google do with MY data?”, but think again. The world becomes so restricted because of the absence of trust. You are not ready to store your confidential files or your private files in the same place. That 100 billion dollar idea that you wrote last night? Are you ready to store it in an online data-source?

The solution?

It would be better if Google (or anyone for that matter) provides the same service, but it does not know what data we store.

The idea is simple.

Encrypt all data as soon as it is created using some key that depends on the user who created the data. Decrypt it just when you need it. A mediator between the client interface and the server is responsible for the encryption and decryption. The mediator of-course lies on the client side.

And in the world of semantic web services, you can expect companies encrypting all data that they generate. So it is ok if you store your confidential files or the vision document of your company in the same single-data-source that you use to publish your photos to the public! (This seems like a horror story now, but it is perfectly valid.) Accidental leaks will not be a problem.

You don't have to be bothered about whether someone will be accessing that data, or if someone misuses it. All copies made of the document will be a waste as people just cannot make sense of it.

Security features like encryption and digital signatures are going to be a very important piece in technological evolution in the years to come. You can bet on it!