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Re: Location services and age limit Re: Location in the news

From: David Singer <singer@apple.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2010 10:18:52 -0700
Message-Id: <AB4258D4-F4B1-4211-8423-7EE7FEFB59EE@apple.com>
To: public-privacy@w3.org
I think that there are a number of points that we can draw from this debate.  

One that has not been mentioned is that the organizations that are 'at the edge' (trying new services, and yes, making more mistakes) are, for the most part, not W3C members.  I brought this up at the face to face, and I'll repeat it here:  we need to involve the people who have the most scars, the most difficulty, the most mistakes to learn from, and they are (to a large degree) sites *using* web technology, not those developing it (i.e. the current W3C membership).  I think it's time to reach out to the FaceBooks of this world and somehow get them involved in this debate.  I expect I would learn a lot, and I think they could benefit from a forum where issues of design, usage, self-regulation, etc. can be discussed.

Then, I am not at all sure that any of the problems of geolocation that have been presented are, in fact, specific to children at all: as the Guardian story pointed out, adults have stalked problems.  I'm not even convinced that children are much worse than adults at predicting (or rather, failing to predict) the consequences of making some piece of personal data transition from 'private' (not widely known) to 'public' (widely known).

In fact, the history shows that even those who understand the specific details of what is happening can be quite hazy, or even plain wrong, about the long-term or long-distance consequences of that action (think of the release of anonymized health records that were easily re-identified).  We somehow have to get better at it, but it's a real challenge when people are inventing and innovating -- new businesses succeed in part precisely because they thought of something that was not generally expected or thought of.

Indeed, I have always thought it almost the definition of a good tool that it can be used in ways not explicitly anticipated by its designer.  That goes for new web services as well.  So somehow we are trying to design an infrastructure which is open to the benign unexpected but not the dangerous unexpected.  This is...not easy.

David Singer
Multimedia and Software Standards, Apple Inc.
Received on Wednesday, 4 August 2010 17:19:24 UTC

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