Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kim Cameron: secret RIAA agent?

Kim has an interesting post today, referencing an article ("What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You?" by Charles Duhigg in last week’s New York Times.

Kim correctly points out the major fallacies in the thinking of J. P. Martin, a "math-loving executive at Canadian Tire", who, in 2002, decided to analyze the information his company had collected from credit-card transactions the previous year. For example, Martin notes that "2,220 of 100,000 cardholders who used their credit cards in drinking places missed four payments within the next 12 months." But that's barely 2% of the total, as Kim points out, and hardly conclusive evidence of anything.

I'm right with Cameron for most of his essay, up til the end when he notes:

"When we talk about the need to prevent correlation handles and assembly of information across contexts (for example, in the Laws of Identity and our discussions of anonymity and minimal disclosure technology), we are talking about ways to begin to throw a monkey wrench into an emerging Martinist machine. Mr. Duhigg’s story describes early prototypes of the machinations we see as inevitable should we fail in our bid to create a privacy enhancing identity infrastructure for the digital epoch."
Change "privacy enhancing" to "intellectual property protecting" and it could be a quote from an RIAA press release!

We should never confuse tools with the bad behavior that can be helped by those tools. Data correlation tools, for example, are vitally necessary for automated personalization services and can be a big help to future services such as Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) . After all, it's not Napster that's bad but people who use it to get around copyright laws who are bad. It isn't a cup of coffee that's evil, just people who try to carry one thru airport security. :)

It is easier to forbid the tool rather than to police the behavior but in a democratic society, it's the way we should act.

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