After writing this response to Chris Brogan’s open question, I wasn’t planning to write a follow up on this subject because this blog isn’t specifically about Data Portability and Accountability, but here it is. I’m going to use examples that may seem unrelated, but they’re all about rights and protecting them.
In regard to the Facebook/Plaxo/DataPortability.org issue, the current line is that the issue is all about open portability of data. If that’s the case, two questions come to mind. First, if the entire intent of the situation was to highlight the open exchange of data, why were the methods used by Plaxo and its agent (Agent meaning the individual representing Plaxo by the mechanism of a non-disclosure agreement) anything but open? And Second, why wasn’t the DataPortability.org banner raised and blogged about until after the fact, when everything had already happened?
I’ve been a podcaster for only a little over six months now but I’ve been a professional musician for over twenty years and I’m always interested in the ongoing debate of music use. In fact, this blog/podcast shows a lot of my research into what defines Public Domain and and its relationship to copyrights. I know a fellow podcaster who uses a certain album of music for their show and put a footnote in their blog about the album not being copyrighted, therefore it is in the Public Domain. I’m no copyright lawyer and technically they may be right about that particular album (Ask George Romero about ‘Night of the Living Dead’), however the album title starts with ‘Favorite Songs of…’ so if there are any arrangements of a copyrighted song on that album, more than likely the podcaster is in violation of the copyright laws (Check with Thomas Dolby about sampling for that one). I don’t for a minute believe that podcaster is doing anything with malicious intent, it’s just more complicated than a simple statement can handle. Oh and by the way, let’s talk about how those rights are being ‘protected’ by the RIAA. That seems to be a war and we all know how that is working for them.
I don’t use Skype anymore. It’s not an issue with the application itself, but more with its usage. I’ve been involved in multiple conversations using Skype with other podcasters that have been recorded and used in podcasts without my knowledge, consent and/or sometimes without me even knowing a recording of my part in a call was used in a podcast. When I was growing up, my Dad owned part of a radio station and he was the Chief Engineer and News Director. Now the FCC regulations have changed some and they’re ambiguous at best about private parties recording , but if a licensed Broadcast entity did that, the result could be fines or loss of broadcast license. Once again, I don’t think the podcasters were doing anything with malicious intent and it got my blog and podcast a little attention, so I made the choice to not use Skype unless it’s under very specific circumstances. My rights, my choice.
All of that to prove that the situation is complicated, so let’s talk about similar situations that are being handled well. How about online banking? It’s a good analogy. Who owns the money being moved electronically back and forth, or the accounts? I don’t remember reading about online banking wars, maybe about usage fees, but not the banking itself. And they deal with personal information.
Or how about one I have some personal professional experience with. Personal Health Information. In July of 2000, I became the first full time employee at First Health Group Corp involved solely with the Internet as the Internet Operations Coordinator, becoming the Manager of Internet Operations, the highest position solely dedicated to the Internet through August 2005 even presenting on Capitol Hill in July 2003 at the Healthcare Leadership Council Innovations. Among my duties were the creation and implementation of security and privacy corporate policy and a large part of that was in conjunction with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed by Congress in 1996. This issue could have easily been a war, take a look at the timeline. Passed in 1996, when the then current administration made a failed attempt at Health Care Reform, but by no means were the waters friendly for the Health Care Industry. And whether is was a concession or a flexing of its muscle, the Health Care Industry said “We can’t do this on our own” and HIPAA was brought into existence. It’s been a long, complicated process and continues to be, but it’s by no means a war and a good start to a blueprint when it comes to Data Portability and Accountability on the Internet.
Let’s not confuse arrogance or ignorance with altruism and let’s discard the bad road we took to get here and focus on why we are here. Oh and I really like the idea of of the ‘PA’ part of HIPAA and feel it definitely applies here, Portability AND Accountability. Right now, everyone’s discussing the ‘Freedom’ of Open Portability without discussing the ‘Responsibility’ of Accountability.
Pictures of me presenting to various members of Congress in July 2003 (left to right): Dennis Moore – Kansas, John Shimkus – Illinois, Ron Kind – Wisconsin