Legal Tech in the Blogosphere: Facebook and Privacy
Did you know that, according to Kashmir Hill at Forbes, Facebook is Tracking What Users Buy in Stores to See Whether its Ads Work? How? It has partnered with Datalogix, a Colorado based company that gathers information generated by loyalty cards. You know, those cards that you give the cashier at places like Jewel and Walgreens in order to get special discounts or rebates. So, by comparing e-mail and home address information, Facebook can now tell its advertisers how many of its users who viewed their ad actually purchased the product. It claims that it does not gather an individual's purchase history; but only product data, however. The Electronic Freedom Foundation has delved deeper into the data collection from loyalty cards and provides instructions for opting out of the collection process in its blog: A Deep Dive into Facebook and Datalogix: What's Actually Getting Shared and How You Can Opt Out.
This practice feeds into the prediction that revenue pressures resulting from Facebook's status as a publically traded company will inspire it to intrude further into its users' privacy. David Copeland at ReadWriteWeb articulates them in his article: Investors & Advertisers Drive Facebook Deeper into Privacy Quagmire. Furthermore, even Facebook seems to acknowledge the increased concerns over privacy. It has retooled its help section to address privacy concerns more openly as pointed out by Ryan Tate at Wired in Facebook Will Help You Keep a Wary Eye on Facebook.
The increased ease with which companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter can track and then compile personal data raises the urgency of taking steps to preserve one's own privacy. It increases the need for taking basic, but inconvenient, precautions like logging out of applications when they are not in use and clearing out your search history. After all, lawyers have not only their own privacy to protect, but clients as well.
"Legal Tech in the Blogosphere" is written by members of the ISBA's Standing Committee on Legal Technology (COLT).