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Online Privacy: We Just Don't Care

Facebook leaked your data (again). Big Brother's watching everyone and everything. And Google is testing a "service" that sounds like you providing them a list of everything you own.
A rumor recently surfaced that Google is testing a new service, in the loosest sense of the word, called Google Mine. As InformationWeek's Thomas Claburn noted, Google Mine appears to serve no one but Google. You give Google a list of stuff you own -- and that's it. (OK, it's a bit more than that -- but that's really kind of it.)

I'm a heavy user of a variety of Google services -- a modern serf, according to information security pundit Bruce Schneier's analogy, and a loyal one at that -- but I'm left scratching my head. Why would I ever need Google Mine? Google does not lack for information about me: Email, Internet searches, and so forth. Now I should inventory my house and upload that, too -- while apparently getting nothing in return? (Welcome, burglars!)

Google may have a copy of every email I've sent during the past seven years or so, but at least Gmail gives me, you know, free email. Yet I've no doubt that if Google Mine rolled out tomorrow, thousands upon thousands -- and likely millions -- of people would sign up overnight.

Zuckerberg was onto something, though perhaps not for noble reasons. "Privacy" has evolved to a point of "anything but." Many of us, me included, seem awfully comfortable with the apparent reality that there is absolutely no such thing -- and we continue to dump large troves of personal information online. Even Zuckerberg's self-serving logic in those salad days of 2010 is alarmingly sound in hindsight. We don't care about our privacy on the Internet because we use the Internet.

After all, what's the alternative -- drop Google? I don't think they make paper maps anymore. Disconnect Skype? But then I'd have to actually start paying for phone calls again. Don't use Facebook? Are you kidding me? What else am I supposed to do with these pictures of my kids?

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Kirsten Powell, Senior Manager for Security & Risk Management at Adobe
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5