Internet 2012: Naughty or nice?
Here are our picks for the organizations and individuals who've done the most to earn our thanks this year -- and those who deserve to get a lump of coal in their stockings.
It's time once again for the fat man to reward the good and punish the wicked this year -- and I'm not talking about Kim Dotcom. Who’s been naughty and who’s been nice in the world of the InterWebs?
Since this is the holidays, we'll start with a nice one first.
Nice: The Obama administration’s proposed Consumer Bill of Rights. While not everything it could be, the proposal lays the essential cornerstones of consumer privacy by declaring that individuals, and not corporations, have the right to control the data companies collect about them and how it is used.
Naughty: The scandal that took down David Petraeus started with B-league Kardashian Jill Kelley complaining to an FBI buddy about harrassing emails from Petraeus’s comrade in arms (so to speak) Paula Broadwell. Starting with a pseudonymous Yahoo mail address, the feds then traced the email string back to the highest levels of government – showing just how much damage one determined FBI agent can cause, without any actual crimes being committed.
Nice: Microsoft drawing a line in the privacy sand and announcing that IE 10 would ship with Do Not Track set as the default.
Naughty: The online advertising/data mining industry responding by saying it would refuse to recognize the DNT flag in any browser if it's set as the software's default because that wouldn't reflect “consumer choice.”
Nice: The FTC finally cracking down on mobile apps that target kids and siphon information out of them such as their email address or location, and updating the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Naughty: One such developer, Mobbles, claimed that its app didn't violate COPPA because it was “targeted at people age 13 or older.” Here's a screen capture of the Mobbles app. Do you know any teens who'd be willing to admit to using it?
Naughty: Instagram, which caused an uproar this week by changing its terms of service to imply it would soon be using selling its users' photographs for use in ads, a la Facebook's sponsored stories. The photo filter/sharing service is still backpedaling on that one.
Nice: Marissa Mayer's Yahoo picked the perfect week to update its mobile Flickr app, which offers the same 1970s Poloroid style filters but without the promiscuous photo sharing.
Nice: PrivacyChoice’s PrivacyFix (formerly PrivacyScore), a free Chrome add on that makes it easy to see which Facebook apps are playing fast and loose with your data.
Naughty: FunnyJunk attorney Charles Carreon trying to squeeze $20,000 out of Matt Inman and his online comic The Oatmeal by threatening a dubious defamation suit, thus enraging the Internet
Nice: Inman turning the Internet outrage into a charity drive that netted more than $200,000 for cancer research and wildlife preservation.
Naughty: Google deliberately ignoring default Do Not Track settings in Safari so it could deliver targeted ads.
Nice: The FTC fining Google $22.5 million for that – the largest fine in the agency’s history. A nice symbolic gesture, despite the fact that it represented a mere 0.06 percent of Google’s annual revenues.
Naughty: Adult site Sex.com, which shamelessly copies the look and feel of Pinterest, only with a lot less clothing.
Nice: Justin Timberlake’s new MySpace, which against all rational expectations looks like kind of a cool place to hang out. We’re all still waiting for the first wardrobe malfunction to hit.
As a large bearded man in a red suit once allegedly said, “A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
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