Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three Policies for Pirates

Three policies I'd like to see a Pirate Party (or any forward looking political party) adopt with respect to providers of online services, social networks, communication feeds etc.

1) There should be an option to turn the filter-bubble off. 

If you use an algorithmic filter to prioritise what is of interest to the user within a feed, you MUST also provide a version of the feed without that filter. And an easy way to switch it on or off.

2 Everyone owns their own "data-exhaust". 

If you provide a service that gets its value from observing user behaviour you cannot claim exclusive ownership of that data. The user should have an inalienable right to share or license it with anyone else. (You aren't obliged to make it available to others (which might be genuinely arduous) but you can't complain if the user or another company (with the user's consent) figures out how to do it themselves.

3) Service providers must openly explain what data they are mining / inferring from their users. 

Just as packaged foods must explain what ingredients go in to them. Online data-services must explain what they are inferring from your behaviour so that you know what you are revealing to them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Rant #1

Microsoft, you idiots! Why do you try to force me to create a new Microsoft account to use Skype on my new Windows Machine?
I don't want another Microsoft account and I already HAVE a Skype account. (Which is yours anyway). Why not just silently merge the Skype and Microsoft identity back-ends and let me use the login / password that I already have?
What I'm going to do instead of migrating my account to Microsoft is restrict my Skype use to my Android phone (which still works, Skype on Linux broke a long time ago), and eventually migrate to other chat / VoIP solutions 99% of the time. And that's because you are being demanding and annoying rather than providing me with something useful that helps me do what I want to do.

Rant #2

HMRC (UK tax people) are absurd. Last year I set up a perfectly good online way to access my account. Today they want "confirmation" of the last 4 numerals of an "interest paying" bank account. I don't HAVE an interest paying bank account. I've certainly never registered one with them. But their stupid new "security" measure locks me out of my account with them because I can't present them with the details of one. WTF??????