Monthly Archives: August 2012

Keys to Whose House?

In their efforts to vet job applicants, some companies and government agencies have started asking for passwords to log in to a prospective employee’s accounts on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Civil liberties groups, social media users and others have criticized the practice as a serious invasion of privacy, likening it to handing over the keys to your house. (source)

As I read this, I couldn’t help but thinking, “Your house? Really?”

In my mind, it’s really more like copying a key that opens the doors of a stranger’s house, going inside and leaving a bunch of personally identifiable and sensitive information, and then leaving copies of that key in really stupid places. I can appreciate that the above analogy is designed to illustrate the security risks in giving out your passwords (which, I suppose, could possibly still be news to someone, if they were an IDIOT), but the insecurity is much more fundamental than that—if you use Facebook’s warehouse to store information, any information you store is essentially theirs. Talk about privacy and confidentiality policies all you’d like, but the way they process and store it is totally up to them, and you have no way of knowing what they choose to do.

Total topic change

I’m sure I won’t convince anyone, since the people reading this are either free software advocates who have heard this and either accepted or dismissed it for one reason or another, or they’re people who read because they know me and for whatever reason can rationalize their use of Facebook and the like.

Maybe that means I shouldn’t write this stuff anymore? Maybe it means it’s late and I’m tired? I’ll read this again tomorrow and see if it makes any sense. Mark out.