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The Privacy Manifesto caused a ripple

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day on the privacy and data portability front.  I didn't have any inkling of what was coming up next after publishing the Privacy Manifesto on GigaOm, but shortly after Plaxo, Facebook and Google all joined the Data Portability working group.  That's great news, and I myself have committed to the organizers of the group to start to work some of the Privacy Manifesto into the Data Portability group's documents.

The reaction to the Privacy Manifesto was quite polarized.  On the one hand, groups of people already familiar with it's principles (primarily Chief Privacy Officers at various corporations, and Europeans and Canadians) came out in support of it.  At the other end of the spectrum, those who still view individuals personal information as a corporate asset argued that it would be complex and difficult to implement.  And in the middle of it all, Robert Scoble, the agent provocateur who set the stage for the whole discussion with his attempts to scrape data from Facebook, continued to challenge the various viewpoints.

Some of the reactions worth reading:

  • The comment stream at GigaOm
  • Michael Geist's quick posting last night.  For those who don't know Geist, he's one of the top privacy guys in the world, and the chair of the University of Ottawa's law school in Internet and ECommerce law.  He's also the advisor that we turned to at iotum when we needed help, two years ago, with our own privacy initiatives.
  • Thomas Otter also weighed into the mix with a European view, and a comment stream ensued even longer than the stream at GigaOm.

So, what next?  The proof's in the pudding.  As I mentioned last night to a friend on Facebook, companies join standards organizations for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it's to move a collaborative effort forward, sometimes it's to keep a finger on what others are doing in the industry, and in rare cases it's to disrupt the standards process.  What counts now is not that Google, Plaxo and Facebook have joined the process, but rather the result that the process can achieve.

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