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Google and Facebook Join 60

technirvana sends us to ReadWriteWeb for the scoop on the announcement this morning that representatives from Google and Facebook are joining the DataPortability Workgroup. Quoting: "The group is working on a variety of projects to foster an era in which users can take their data from the websites they use to reuse elsewhere... Good bye customer lock-in, hello to new privacy challenges. If things go right, today could be a very important day in the history of the internet. The non-participation of Google and Facebook, two companies that hold more user data and do more with it than almost any other consumer service on the market, was the biggest stumbling block to the viability of the project. These are two of the most important companies in recent history — what's being decided now is whether they will be walled-garden, data-horders or truly open platforms tied into a larger ecosystem of innovation with respect for user rights and sensible policies about data."
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Google and Facebook Join

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  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) * <> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @07:33PM (#21962436) Homepage Journal
    Anonymity on the net is not quite what it used to be.

    This isn't true. You can be FAR more anonymous on the net today than you could 10 or certainly 15 years ago. The sheer number of people using it gives you a lot of cover; when there were fewer users and sites, it was a lot easier to backtrack and figure out who a person was.

    Plus, the privacy and encryption tools have gotten a lot better. I don't think there has ever been a time in history when individuals had access to encryption that's as secure as what you can download for free right now. Same with anonymity systems like Tor (although I'd argue it has more historical and physical-world analogs; e.g. the mail is pretty anonymous). Look at how many hoary old plaintext protocols we're still burdened with, left over from more naive times.

    All that's required is a desire to have privacy and anonymity, or perhaps better put, a refusal to give it up for a few convenience features here and there. Obviously you lose privacy if you use GMail and store everything on Google's servers. But nobody is making you do that; if you do regular POP/SMTP+GPG, you can have better security today than with any previous generation of system. It's only when you want to be on the (relatively) bleeding edge -- where, as is typical and certainly not new, features have been added without much thought to privacy or security -- that you have to give anything up.

    If anything, people are becoming more and more concerned with data security, not less.
  • Wait there. To be fair you can export data from Outlook. Outlook will let you export your address book, mail and calendar, Google will not. Google will let you download all of your mail, but there is nothing for exporting your address book. (And to be fair, you really don't have a Google address book do you? It just caches the names of everyone and uses an autocomplete feature to make it feel like you do.)

    I keep a Google Calendar for personal stuff and one in Outlook at work for scheduled meetings and so forth (Fortune 500, so I can't just tell everyone I'm not going to use Outlook anymore). Once I decided to export my Outlook calendar and import it into Google's so I could see my upcoming meetings from home later that day and plan my next month's schedule. Worked great, no problem at all. Then about a week later I decided to do the same thing backwards, export from Google and load that data into Outlook. Well, Google offers no such feature. I *could* "share" my personal calendar (give it an address that anyone can view) and import it that way, but I don't like the idea of making my calendar viewable to the world while I do the import.

    And this is coming from a Google fan who has four Google related Firefox Prizm icons on his desktop (Gmail, Calendar, Reader and Docs).
  • by ChatHuant ( 801522 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @08:05PM (#21962820)
    Want to use Outlook? Good luck sharing your address book with Gmail or (hah) Thunderbird

    Gosh, I must be extremely lucky; I typed "export contacts" in Outlook help, and, what do you know, I got a link to an article helpfully named "Transfer contacts between Outlook and Google Gmail". Just export your Outlook contact list as a CSV file and import it into GMail. Trivial.

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken