October 2011 Archives

Akamai and Evidon Privacy Notice delivery

Content Delivery Network (CDN) giant Akamai and advertising-industry self-regulation platform provider Evidon (nee Better Advertising) have teemed up to provide more robust privacy notices to individuals. Akamai will provide the distribution network -- most likely using Edge Side Includes (ESI) (wikipedia, Akamai) -- for "Evidon's privacy and compliance services for the management of the Industry Self-Regulatory Program in the US, the European ePrivacy Directive, and its corollary self-regulatory effort for Online Behavioral Advertising."

I can't wait to see this in action and I hope Evidon pushes out in new directions for privacy notice/choice. I'd love to see Evidon build on Aza Raskin's privacy icon project. Evidon and its partners will reach a large audience and can use their bully pulpit to advance changes in the standard idea of notice and consent (choice). More granular control over opting-in/opting-out or programs? Something even more radical? This is a big technological step forward for providing smart notice/choice, why not try out more new ideas?

I would also like to see Evidon and its partners use this platform for testing new approaches to advertising, information collection, notice, and choice. For example:

Testing the impact of a truly opt-in model on ad impressions: "Would you like to see ads on this site?"
Testing the impact of opt-in information collection: "Advertising network XYZ would like to collect browsing habits: Yes/No."

We've only been able to speculate on the outcome of this type of granular control, perhaps Evidon could give us some proof.

Time-zone database

Stephen Colebourne has a great write-up about the closure of the time-zone database.On October 6th, a lawsuit filed against the time-zone database by Astrolabe, Inc forced the closure of the FTP server and mailing list supporting the time-zone database. For those unaware of what the time-zone database is, Stephen provides a great summary: "The time-zone database (sometimes referred to as the Olson database) is the computing world's principle source of time-zone data. It is embedded in every Unix and Java for starters, and will be used by many websites and probably by your iPhone. You may know it via the IDs, such as "Europe/London" or "America/New_York"."

The particulars of the case deal with copyright infringement and all the drama that goes along with that claim. However, the real impact of the lawsuit is the closure of the one (1) global source of time-zone data.

Scary to think the one source of time-zone data can be shuttered by a copyright lawsuit, perhaps it's time for the data to be taken up by a standards body (ISO, perhaps) and protected. No real privacy issues here but there is a potential impact to anyone who processes time-zone sensitive data.

Further reading: