Privacy Issues: Big in 2009, but Bigger in 2010


To ring in 2010, fellow IT Business Edge blogger Ann All wrote about her most-read posts of 2009, based on Google Analytics statistics. I, too, checked out the Google stats as we were closing out the year. Not surprisingly, the posts at the top of the list addressed two topics that I'm sure will continue to be hot this year. Both are areas in which regulators and legislators are just beginning to test the waters. I'll address one here and the second in a later post.


The first is privacy. Despite the fact that I wrote it only a few weeks ago, one of my most-read posts of 2009 concerned the FTC complaint filed about Facebook's privacy changes. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and other consumer privacy advocacy groups signed the complaint, asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into the changes the social-networking giant recently made to its privacy policies. They argued that instead of protecting users' information, Facebook's changes are actually making that information more readily available to the public -- while at the same time leaving users with the impression that their data stays private unless they say otherwise.


What Facebook and other social-networking sites are engaging in, according to IT Business Edge blogger Sue Marquette Poremba, is "security theater." She says:

Security theater is the intention to make it appear that improved security measures have been put in place when there have actually been little to no improvements at all.

These issues as well as those presented by the behavioral advertising that targets users who might be more inclined to buy certain products based on their Web-surfing history prompted the FTC and other interested stakeholders to take a closer look at regulating online privacy not long ago, so I'm sure the privacy questions will not be fading with our memories of 2009.