Dear FTC. Give Amazon rights to user data and solve the privacy and hacker problems that plague America!Posted on December 1st, 2011 2 comments
[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.
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”.
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!”.
Posted on October 7th, 2011 No comments
How will Silk change everything?
Take heed, everyone is up in arms about the privacy implications of Silk. But the performance improvements and potential protection from Malware will probably win out in the end. Let’s consider the implications.
At first, images will most likely be cached, but as time goes on, by determining which content is dynamic and which content is static, most static content will be aggregated. Cookies may move from the browser to the server. And eventually the browser will die and just become a terminal. The request/response that builds a Document Object Model (DOM) for the page would soon morph because it is now about server to server communications. Most likely it will mean most pages start out static and use a server-to-server AJAX type request to update the requested page.
And, what is to stop the other data centers from doing the same? If this model takes off, soon all requests will be built around a terminal system and everything transfers from server to server. People will stop asking, “Which browser do you use?” and instead ask, “Which Aggregation Center do you use?”.
At this point, it means that the aggregators like Amazon will be at the center of determining which data comes in and which data goes out. 3rd party data collectors are then dependent on these aggregators. If you are collecting web data at your own data servers, you do have access to the dynamic content sent out and hopefully some kind of request for change to static content every time the user requests the static content. Worst case scenario, Amazon and aggregators close the world to the data collection from their system due to an increased desire for privacy. Then we all move back to the data center for our data collection needs. They have every right to ensure their consumers with the statement “we are protecting your privacy, companies are still able to optimize based on data requested directly from their data centers”. It would actually be a good move for them if privacy was a real concern. Many spammers and hackers do use beacons to mark users/computers for nefarious purposes.
Anyway, I’m actually looking forward to a quicker browsing experience, with the potential of protection from hackers and maybe even an increase in privacy (depending on how Amazon wants to approach it). Go ahead Amazon, you’ll get the web tracking companies angry, but remember, they can still collect directly from the data center.
What do you think? Do you think Amazon would restrict data collection for beacon-based data-collection companies and would there be an exodus to the data center? Or do you think a company like Amazon would keep it open in the name of web optimization?