Dear FTC. Give Amazon rights to user data and solve the privacy and hacker problems that plague America!

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[Update:] Maybe some people have misunderstood what I’m getting at, so I decided to spell out some of the main points below:

1. Amazon’s Silk browser uses their cloud to put together a web page and deliver an optimized version for a device. The device does not communicate with other data centers, only with Amazon’s EC2 cloud (unless disabled).

2. Although marketed as an optimizer, aggregating and optimizing web pages puts Amazon in a position to protect web users from hackers and nefarious marketers. If used as the sole access to the internet, Amazon can more easily protect user data than any other source (including anti-virus tools).

3. My guess is other companies are already working on a similar cloud optimizer. I would not be surprised to see Google, Microsoft, Apple, and IBM (partnered with Firefox?) release their own aggregator/optimizer.

4. I suggest to the FTC that rather than policing user data, allow the aggregators to gather it, protect it, and sell it to marketing firms.

5. I theorize that when an aggregator abuses user data, it is best to let the free market choose how their data is used by moving to a different aggregation source.

6. All of our problems solved (I know just a tad bit too simple). 🙂 Enjoy my blog post.

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Looks like Facebook has agreed to be audited by the FTC for the next 20 years. Sounds like the FTC may have a hard time even finding a company to audit how they are using the data they collect. Facebook has been accused of tracking users across multiple sites and selling/using that data with advertisers. This really cracks me up! I remember sitting in a conference room with David Humphries when I worked at Omniture discussing how we could do similar tracking. I was the technical resource for the Business Development group at the time. Of course, it was all about cookie sharing across multiple clients and creating an industry-wide standard for data collection. After seeing 3rd party “social plugins” offered by Facebook on cnn.com and other sites, it was obvious how they could use that to track users across the internet and use that data for hyper-focused advertising or, as I like to call it, “Marketers Gold”.

FTC Sheriff of User Data

FTC Sheriff of User Data

Now, Dear FTC. Please, please stop wasting your money. Please don’t send out sheriffs to patrol the wild west of user data. It’s time to give trustworthy people ownership of the user data and— hear it is — privatize it! Let someone own it, protect it, and, yes, sell it. (Can’t we learn from the history of our own “Wild West?) Let’s face it, all the online marketing companies (and hackers) have been given a free-ride with user data. It is time for some order, and guess what, a company you are targeting for privacy concerns could end up solving all of the privacy and hacker issues that affect America and the World.

Amazon has just introduced their silk browser that uses the Amazon cloud to optimize how the web page is delivered to their browser. All requests are routed through their servers and rebuilt for optimized delivery to the silk browser. I hope you can see the potential here for Amazon to be a guardian of private data and not an abuser. All the data that gets pushed out from a user’s browser would be pushed out through Amazon, and potentially, blocked. Now, here is where you, the FTC, can parcel out the wild west of user data. Let Amazon block ALL data getting passed out and allow them to charge companies to stream user data out from their cloud. If you do this, it allows Amazon to more quickly monetize their setup as a guardian of data. And, guess what, other cloud services that aggregate data will pop up and consumers can choose which cloud they want to use to connect to the internet. These aggregators will be more adept at protecting themselves from hackers and nefarious marketers. At that point, it is just a matter of auditing the data that is passed out from the various clouds to marketing firms (and ensure the marketing firms are not hackers). User’s can choose which aggregation center protects their data better than others, creating a free market where user’s can leave one cloud for another if their own data is misused.

I believe at some point in the future this will be the prominent model of data distribution. We can fight against it, or we can embrace it and encourage it to grow. The internet has been really free and not many expect or want organization applied to it. But I’m sure that Henry Ford would never have imagined the number of laws and the order that has been applied to driving a car Today. This is coming and I’m sure if you fight against it, 20 years from now, many techies will smile and laugh and say “What was the FTC thinking!”.

2 comments

  1. There must be something I don’t get because I don’t see how Amazon playing a “guardian” role is any different than your ISP which can also filter and block anything. Other than Amazon being big, fast and experienced is ersonalization, ISPs could be regulated to play that role now, today! (and btw, they are already selling trafic data…)

  2. Thanks for the comment @ShamelCP! Yea, I know that some ISPs sell data to advertisers and some Online Marketing firms have tried to align themselves that way with ISPs. My concern with doing this at the ISP level is there is limited movement. Some people have very few choices locally with their ISP. I can either go with Comcast or a local fiber provider (bet you can guess which one I’m using 😉 ). If there were these cloud aggregators then users could switch on a dime rather than going through the rigmarole of switching ISPs.

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