Here’s an interesting article on the unintended consequences of social networking. Basically, it is reported that the NSA is snooping social networking sites (with the juicy twist that it plans to do so using Semantic Web technology – more on that later). This seems to fit into the category of “examples of why it’s important to have some kind of user-controlled trust / privacy layer in the fabric of the Web.” Who should be able to see information you put online (including your links to others and the nature of these links) and who shouldn’t? P3P addressed some of these issues but it was never widely adopted. Liberty Alliance has built some interesting technology standards around federated identity, but they are not user-centric, they are provider-centric and they do not really cover privacy. An interesting effort called Dix seems to blend the two approaches, but after a quick read of some of their use cases, it doesn’t seem that they cover “prevent the government from snooping my network.”
Or is laying ourselves open to government surveillance the price we pay for living more of our lives in the digital realm?
By the way, on the whole Semantic Web issue, I think the link they are drawing in this article is tenuous at best, but it is true that the Semantic Web architecture is likewise lacking a coherent identity and trust mechanism.
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