Sunday, October 16, 2005

You Lookin' At Me?

Deleted Orkut and Friendster. They are of no use.

Especially Orkut. When I logged in today after months of absence, it wanted me to migrate to a Gmail account -- which I have -- but the way in which Google is linking every way I use Google Inc. together doesn't sit right with me. I have many facets to my life, some very professional, some adult, some geeky, some downright illegal. I consider it a failing of mine that I am not ready to integrate them at this time, because I do believe in having an open life. But, my current reality is that I am not, mostly for family reasons, and I do not need Google or any other system to do it for me. I do not need a central repository of all the transgressive things I search for cross-correlated with the papers I wrote for Harvard and then made searchable, for example, even if it is not supposed to be searchable ever ever ever. Because maybe nobody outside the specific agglomerator may be able to get to it, but even the-- no wait, security leaks happen all the time, and at this point I bet the complete list of what you have searched for on Google may be considered by many as more personal and private than their SSN, and those are leaked every two days these days. But let's say Google is totally secure, then even then I do not like Google or another agglomerator knowing. Sure, nobody inside Google, or any other agglomerators may care, and-- no wait, that may be a complete lie too

Here's why I think that: in 1995, when the web started taking off, I started doing work at Children's Hospital Boston in sharing electronic medical records over the web. So I was in the middle of all the disucssions about privacy and confidentiality and access rights that eventually percolated into thinking like the current HIPPA legislation, which, for example, makes throwing a lab result into a standard trash bin that collects into a public landfill a $5000,-- offense for the person managing that record, and in my opinion, rightly so. One of the anecdotes about access rights was that after Kitty Dukakis went public with her substance abuse and alcohol poisoning, suddenly electronic accesses to her medical file inside Mass General Hospital went through the roof. It was then MGH realised they needed more granular access controls on their electronic medical files -- a system MGH was one of the first to have, and arguably pioneered -- because the electronic files were allowing what paper files did not, and it turned out doctors and nurses actually were human and had prurient interestst.

Well, guess what, with every month a new friend of mine is working at Google, and thus I know old foes are too. Are they going to check my complete integrated logs? No. Do I care that they can? In many cases, yes. At some point I need to let that go, because access to much of my information really isn't under my control anymore, and I am deluding myself into thinking it is not leaking and seeping out of agglomerators left and right in ways that can easily be cross-correlated, but I am not ready to give up my illusions yet. So no, I am not signing into anything with my Gmail account but Gmail, and cookies are being purged.