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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Privacy & Convenience

Privacy and covenience is always the relationship of inverse proportion. To gain more convenience, you have to give up more privacy. For example, social-networking software called Visible Path takes into account the strength of relationships, so it considers the number of e-mails the workers exchanged. It argues that it never check the content of e-mail, but to improve its function, it should consider the content of e-mails. Without caring about the content, it values a very important business e-mail as equally as an e-mail sent by mistake. The content of e-mail is important factors to decide the strength of relationships. Checking the content of e-mails is necessary for the convenience, but it means less privacy.

Another example is's personalization. It gives the recommendation list, and it is based on users' purchase records. It is very useful function, but it means that keeps the record of purchase by every customer who has their accounts. Remaining record of purchase may be uncomfortable for some users. Again, it is the problem of privacy.

There are much more examples, such as Google Earth, Google Desktop Search, etc. They are all convenient, but privacy issue always involves. As Ghahremani mentions, "people have widely different notions of what's invasive". How far users and service providers compromise on privacy is difficult issue.


George said...

While I understand the privacy fears that Amazon (for example) may sell your buying history and profit off of sending advertisers your way, I believe that these "histories" maintained by companies can be a good thing. Here's my example: I have TiVo. It is wonderful. One of the best features (outside of the obvious benefit of setting your own recordings) is the ability of TiVo to analyze what you record and watch and offer suggestions. It's based on a "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" system where you rate (up to three up or down) whether you like the show or not. TiVo will also randomly record shows into the suggestions hoping you'll rank it to teach it better. (Two other friends with TiVo got a Sex & the City suggestion the same time I did... wanna bet that was paid for?) All these suggestions have increased the shows I watch and record regularly now and make me use my TiVo more frequently and enjoy it more.

I guess my point is that sometimes these privacy "incursions" are worthwhile. TiVo's suggestions have given me a greater satisfaction in my purchase. I could turn TiVo's suggestions off but then I wouldn't enjoy it as much. I'm fine with allowing TiVo to keep track of my preferences, maybe that means the ads I skip over will become more relevant. And wouldn't all the business people out there agree that more relevant ads are better?

Ryo said...

I agree with you . In this situation, I will give my privacy without any problem. And I also have no problem with being tracked my purchase record by Amazon because its recommendation system worth incursions of my privacy.

Maybe Amazon is not good example for this topic. Hmm, what about Google Desktop Search. I don't know much about this function, but it will search users' PC and find what they want. Unlike the original search function of Windows, it can search from the contents of documents. It is very useful, but it also means Google will check the contents of files. In addition, if what I read is correct, Google will store users' information in its server for 30 days.

Some can accept this privacy incursion for quickness and convenience of Google Desktop Search, but for me, it's too much. I don't want Google to search my PC or inside my paper.

jazo82 said...

From my point of view, I think that Amazon has a great IT Infrastructure in terms of usage and recommendation, such as in this case what Amazon did based on purchase records. Some consumers may say, that the information that is kept about them is certainly a privacy issue, but at the same time what information is really kept about the purchaser? Is it a credit card, their profile? As long as this information is kept private and not distributed, I think that the problem of privacy will not be a major issue.


leibneritec said...

for a case like amazon i dont see why it matters what are they doing with the info keeping it to help ypu next time...i dont see a probelem

Ryo said...

Although it is rare, maybe purchase record is also privacy issue for someone. But I also think Amazon's recommendation system is a great function, and it is worth giving up some privacy for the recommendation. So for me, Amazon's case is not a serious privacy issue.

Sorry. I admit that's personalization was not a good example because I think it is not serious privacy issue. Please forget about it, and instead of Amazon, please consider the example of Google Desktop Search, the example I used in the response to George's comment.