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Don't get privates trapped in Facebook's silos, warn experts

'Social media' is so 2010, now it's 'life logging'

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The EU information security agency (ENISA) has warned that people can get too easily "trapped" into "personalised information silos" when using social networks.

In a new report, the security experts said that there was a risk associated with the growing use of what it described as "life-logging" technology.

ENISA said that a "oligopolistic market structure" existed in that arena.

"Thus, one or a few globally active platform providers may become hubs for life-logging activity in general," it said.

"A good early example is today’s Facebook, with an impressive amount of 600 million active users. In such a market structure, the platform provider of choice exercises considerable power, because users of the service are de facto 'locked in'.

"They cannot switch easily to another network without incurring considerable transaction cost or leaving out completely on service participation."

ENISA noted that the inability to transfer contacts and personal data such as photos from, say, Facebook to Google+ made it more difficult for users to freely shift their information around the interwebs.

"Consequently, the risk exists that the leading life-logging service provider abuses their market power. For economic reasons, they can strategically reduce available choices in terms of service access, applications offered, information made available and social control options," ENISA added.

The report continues by highlighting that such technology could:

  • artificially control the service richness offered on his platform to users, ie, impede the publication of potentially competitive application offerings, limiting the innovation opportunities around life-logging;
  • hinder the spread of information if that information is not commercially or politically desired;
  • lever out net neutrality by introducing different service levels at the application layer; and
  • dictate the social rules around the life-logging service, such as privacy rules, rules around the confidentiality of user data, the copyrights to posted content, etc.

ENISA suggested that the European Commission should consider those warnings when revising the now-delayed data protection directive.

It called on the EC to promote security and privacy risk management as a framework for governments, regulators and service providers. ®

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