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Ear to the Ground

‘Buzz’-Kill for Privacy Advocates

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Posted on Feb 13, 2010
Jae C. Hong / AP

Google, like Facebook, has often run into privacy battles as it unveils new technologies and services.

Buzz, Google’s answer to Twitter, is getting a lot of bad looks from privacy advocates. The service, which allows users to share short messages or “tweets” (buzzers?) with a network of friends, is faulted for an alleged invasion of privacy that uses e-mail data to automatically create a preconfigured friends list.

The service, which employs frequency of e-mail communications to determine whether users are friends or not, runs into an obvious problem when one is automatically friended with a mistress, physician or even that Russian spy you’ve been funneling information to for months. —JCL

The New York Times:

When Google introduced Buzz — its answer to Facebook and Twitter — it hoped to get the service off to a fast start. New users of Buzz, which was added to Gmail on Tuesday, found themselves with a ready-made network of friends automatically selected by the company based on the people that each user communicated with most frequently through Google’s e-mail and chat services.

But what Google viewed as an obvious shortcut stirred up a beehive of angry critics. Many users bristled at what they considered an invasion of privacy, and they faulted the company for failing to ask permission before sharing a person’s Buzz contacts with a broad audience. For the last three days, Google has faced a firestorm of criticism on blogs and Web sites, and it has already been forced to alter some features of the service.

E-mail, it turns out, can hold many secrets, from the names of personal physicians and illicit lovers to the identities of whistle-blowers and antigovernment activists. And Google, so recently a hero to many people for threatening to leave China after hacking attempts against the Gmail accounts of human rights activists, now finds itself being pilloried as a clumsy violator of privacy.

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By Ymmot, October 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unbeknown to the public at least 34 states maintain prescription monitoring programs.  These programs who’s start up seed money comes from the federal government.  Gather all prescription information on prescriptions filled in at least 34 states.  Additional information on the seed money can be found at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/prescripdrugs.html.

These programs gather all prescription information in data bases and make it available to a variety to individuals and agencies.  This medical information is of the most private nature.  California has a Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), so if you have had a prescription filled in California they have access to that information.  They have access to your parents prescription history, your siblings, your children, neighbors, your church leader’s, in other words, everyone’s.

The intent is to reduce the diversion of prescription medications to illicit sales or use.  Of course the best of intentions lead us down dangerous roads.  There are no guarantees that the information is kept private, that court subpoenas are required to access the data, that some rogue individual won’t use the information for their own immoral use.  Worse yet that the information will be accidentally or intentionally made public, i.e. as in wiki-leaks.

PMP’s have a national organization that maintains a web site at: http://www.pmpalliance.org/

I hope you find this story about “government invasion of privacy gone wild” worthy of shining a bright light on and exposing.  The thought of big brother encroaching on our private lives in this manner sends shivers of Nazi Germany down my spine.

I consider this the worst intentional breach of privacy ever by any free government.

I wish you well.

Regards,
Ymmot

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