[LINK] ITNews: 'Content providers ... "hostile" privacy policies'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Mar 22 13:04:26 AEDT 2011
Content providers slammed for "hostile" privacy policies
By John Hilvert
Mar 22, 2011 6:27 AM (6 hours ago)
Parliament should draw "line in the sand".
Long-time privacy advocate Dr Roger Clarke has called for tough new
laws to rein in "hostile" terms and conditions used by international
internet content giants like Facebook and Google.
Speaking before the Joint Select Committee on Cybersafety, Clarke
branded the business models of the internet and social media
companies "consumer-hostile" and exploitative of "people and their
Clarke - who runs the Xamax business consultancy and chairs the
Australian Privacy Foundation - appeared before the committee in a
He called on content service providers to "clarify" terms and
conditions of use, including how much personal data could be used by
a provider "for their own purposes".
Clarke also said that information on privacy settings - and the
extent of user control over them - should be concisely tabled and
clearly visible to consumers.
statements but they are difficult to find," he said.
"Those documents also change over time. In many cases, there is no
track [record] kept of what changes occurred when."
Clarke called for "baselines" for privacy and disclosure to be
established, backed by enforcement tools like "regulatory action" and
"quick and efficient access to judicial warrants", which could be
used to force oversight.
"International corporations that [provide] services to Australians
must be subject to legal obligations to comply with those judicial
warrants," he said.
Clarke's call for the establishment of a privacy "baseline" coincided
with the launch of a new self-regulatory code by major social media
corporations regarding the tracking of user data for targeted
Google, Yahoo!7 and NineMSN were among those to sign up to the code,
which permitted users to "opt-out" from receiving certain
Facebook was conspicuously absent from the list signatories.
However, Clarke dismissed the code as "another piece of industry self
regulation being rushed out the door, literally today, in order to
cover up some of the holes that have been found by the public, in
existing self-regulatory arrangements."
[The creation of the code appeared to be news to the Parliamentary
Committee, and certainly was to me. So maybe my reaction was a
[Looking at http://www.youronlinechoices.com.au/
... no I don't think so. It appears to have been subject to no
consultation, it creates 'obligations' in name only, and it is
unenforceable. It's a sham.]
[The witnesses merely mentioned it, without advance notice, and
without distributing so much as a copy of a media release. It was
almost as if they hoped the Committee would pounce on it, thereby
burning up the available time and ensuring that any awkward questions
the Committee members may have brought along to the event didn't get
to be asked.]
He said it should not stop Australia's Parliament from drawing a
"line in the sand" to set minimum conditions on privacy terms in user
Representatives from Facebook, NineMSN, Microsoft and Yahoo!7
rejected suggestions that they onsold user data to third parties,
saying such practices would undermine user trust and confidence.
However, confidence varied among corporate representatives.
"I'm not aware that we just sell it without having a business case
for Microsoft," Microsoft Australia's chief security officer Stuart
Strathdee told the committee, before seeking to take the question on
Clarke chided the Committee for asking only whether the corporations
"onsold" their data.
"We should talk about 'transfer under any circumstances'. It can be
trading, gifting, exchange - there are many uses of 'weasel words'
by organisations that are trying to avoid telling the truth," he said.
consent to everything they might want to do."
"[By using the service], you are deemed to have read the terms and
have knowledge of them as well."
While legally user knowledge and consent may have occured, Clarke
argued most users would not realise the extent to which they may have
allowed content providers to re-use their data.
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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