Thursday, February 09, 2006

Personal Technology getting a little too personal

Walt Mossberg's Personal Technology column in the Wall Street Journal is easily one of the most famous and influential in its category.

Walt's reviews are famous for their thoroughness, and for their grumpiness if the subject matter is not user friendly enough (which is probably one of the reasons why Walt tends to favour products from a certain company located in Cupertino, Ca).

But the world is changing and software needs to be scrutinized not just on effectiveness and user friendliness any more, but also - and not in the least - for security aspects. Walt found this out the hard way when he reviewed a software package called Vizrea, which makes pictures on your PC or website viewable on your mobile phone, wherever you are (paid access - registration needed).

Turns out, Mr Mossberg took a few pictures of himself and his wife when trying out the product in his hotel room, and forgot to protect these from public access on the Vizrea site. What followed was predictable: Walt Mossberg is a public persona; private pictures, unspectacular as they may be, are news; and soon the pictures appeared all over the Internet.

This incident is quite significant, and not only for Walt himself. It's a perfect illustration how important privacy and data protection aspects have become for everything we do in a connected world.

Privacy is on its way to become the most important human right of the 21st century.

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