Feeds

Facebook is 'killing privacy for commercial gain'

Crypto guru slates social networking

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Social network chief execs are deliberately killing privacy for commercial gain, according to security guru Bruce Schneier.

Schneier said: "Less privacy makes a better market for social networks. Facebook is the worst offender - not because it's evil but because its market is selling user data to its commercial partners."

Although people don't want to pay extra for privacy, individuals still value privacy, according to Schneier. "There's no [commercial] market for a Facebook privacy add-on but if Facebook added extra privacy controls people would want it," he explained.

"Don't fool yourself that use are the user of social networks - you are the product."

The encryption expert and author explained that user data is the product that social networks such as Facebook sell to their commercial partners. "The free to user market with services paid for by third party is a common business model on the internet.

"Service providers in this model will always act in interest of their customers, not users, and this can work against the interests of consumers.

"For example, Microsoft products became less valuable because of its relationship with media customers. DRM offered zero benefit for consumers."

Privacy ought to be seen as a human right enforced by tighter government regulations and enforcement. European privacy laws are a good starting point in this process but don't by themselves go far enough, according to Schneier.

The chief technology officer at BT Counterpane said that part of the threat to privacy comes from governments hiring private firms to get around privacy regulations. "Data brokers are being re-purposed for government to do data mining that governments themselves wouldn't be allowed to do."

"Individuals should have the rights to see, challenge, delete and control their private information."

But tougher laws alone aren't enough.

"Legislation without enforcement, at an effective level, may as well not exist," Schneier said.

A market-only solution without tighter regulations is bound to fail, according to the security guru, who argued that blaming users for any privacy pratfalls that befall them is unfair and not an approach taken in other areas of the law.

"Why have confidence scam laws? The law recognises people can be exploited at times of weakness and provides legal remedies," Schneier noted.

Schneier made his comments during a keynote presentation and later Q&A session at the RSA Conference in London on Tuesday. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.