Saturday, March 3, 2007

Are there things you only tell your dog?

There’s a lot of hope that Privacy Enhancing Technologies (called PETs) will restore the privacy that technology took away. When you speak with someone on the telephone, you can be reasonably assured that there is no record of the contents of your communications, since it’s generally illegal to record a phone call without notice. But the evolution of communications technologies has unfortunately undermined that sense of confidentiality. When you send an email, you know that the contents of your communications may be permanently retained by the recipient, forwarded, or read by third parties. And online chatting raises the same privacy issues, in a medium where people tend to ramble on with even less thought.

I am therefore heartened by a PET in Google’s instant messaging service, called Talk. With a simple click, you can take the chat “off the record,” preventing the person with whom you’re chatting from retaining a written copy of the communication. In fairness, the confidentiality is not absolute, since someone could always take a screenshot of the message to retain it. You can read more about how it works, and its limitations, here:
But, for everyday purposes, the “off the record” functionality restores some of the evanescence of communications that have become lost. I don’t think the Internet will ever offer the same level of anonymity as talking to your dog, so there are things you may only want to tell your Rover. But then, as Andy Rooney said: “If dogs could talk, it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one.”


Best4x4xfar said...

Delighted to find you blogging away. A while since we last worked together in our time at Coeur Defense.

Would be very interested in getting back in touch.

With Regards
Peter Williams

NICK said...

Really good !!