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RE: Privacy implications of automatic alternative selection (Re: Acessibility of <audio> and <video>)

From: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 23:20:14 -0400
To: "'Charles McCathieNevile'" <chaals@opera.com>, "'Henri Sivonen'" <hsivonen@iki.fi>, "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Cc: "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, "'Dave Singer'" <singer@apple.com>
Message-ID: <01ec01c91486$78cec600$6a6c5200$@com>

I think that this discussion is fairly... pointless. Privacy is not the concern of this group. Non-disabled users have privacy concerns all of the time, and if they want privacy, they check the privacy policy. Furthermore, there is already a fairly good mechanism for this in place, the much underutilized P3P system. Finally, for users that are *super* concerned about privacy at the server side there are anonymizers.

Let's take an emotion-free look at this situation for one moment. If I go to WebMD and do a lot of search on, say, "diabetes", "insulin", etc., it could be inferred that I am quite possibly diabetic. And this isn't even an HTML issue. It's simply a "what requests originated from the same IP?" Why aren't we trying to keep servers from figuring out who is diabetic? Because *it isn't our concern*.

Again, maintaining privacy is not an HTML issue, it is a Web browser and networking layer issue. I think that David Singer's original proposal, and all of the subsequent tweaks and comment on it all maintain sufficient amounts of "I would like a transcript" and no "I am blind" to ensure that a blind user would be making identical requests to someone who simply prefers to read. That is a better deal on privacy than, say, our WebMD user. I know when my fiancé has been using my computer, for example, because Amazon starts suggesting that I might want the latest Miley Cyrus CD...


> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On
> Behalf Of Charles McCathieNevile
> Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 7:49 PM
> To: Henri Sivonen; HTML WG
> Cc: W3C WAI-XTECH; Dave Singer
> Subject: Re: Privacy implications of automatic alternative selection
> (Re: Acessibility of <audio> and <video>)
> On Thu, 11 Sep 2008 19:38:21 +0200, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
> wrote:
> > The privacy implications of using media queries came up on the
> telecon.
> > (The tacit assumption was that revealing that one has a given
> disability
> > is a privacy-sensitive matter.)
> >
> > The choice of alternative media streams gives the content provider
> > information that correlates with the user's disabilities (unless all
> > alternatives were downloaded so that the content provider couldn't
> tell
> > with alternative was actually consumed).
> >
> > If the user has to select from alternatives, the information about
> the
> > choice is leaked to the content provider at that point.
> >
> > Media queries (or any other automatic selection mechanism), on the
> other
> > hand, would allow content providers to probe the user's
> > disability-correlated settings when the user visits a page without
> > taking specific further action on the page.
> But the content provider doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to
> discover
> that some set of users is requesting only certain parts of the content.
> And from there, with a simple login, it is easy for people at opera to
> discover that I prefer the transcript of a meeting video to the whole
> video.
> Disability has nothing to do with it. Users request what they want at a
> given time. If I browse on my phone (and I do) then I make different
> choices about what I want from YouTube to the things I ask for on my
> PC.
> Ditto the difference between being on a fat pipe in the US or Norway
> and
> being on a slow dodgy connection in the places I spend most of my life.
> As Raman said, an intelligently built site is not asking if I have a
> disability. It may be that the user selects the same thing always, and
> sets up their browser to automate that. Or it may be that they select
> different things depending on where they are and what they are doing (a
> high-quality braille display at a University Office is not the same as
> a
> screen-reader on a shared computer-centre machine, before we even
> consider
> something other than blindness).
> People are not interested to tell you their life history, they are
> trying
> to get a usable form of a meeting record, or a tax form, or some book
> to
> read their kid, or some movie their kid has been bugging them to find.
> cheers
> Chaals
> --
> Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
>      je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
> http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://www.opera.com
Received on Friday, 12 September 2008 03:21:25 UTC

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