Archive for the ‘On-line Identification and Privacy’ category

RIP ClaimId.com

20 December 2013

I was trying to access the page I had set up at ClaimId.com last week. I was not able to access their site. I have written about this site previously in this Blog (as well as a follow-up). So I contacted Fred Stutzman, after I found his name on some OLD e-mails from the claimid-users mailing list. I hoped I could find out how long the site would be off-line.

Fred responded that they were having some problems with their “legacy code” that has been running for a long time. It would have taken considerable effort to re-architecture the service. And based on the page one is greeted with when you now visit their site, it appears this service is no more.

I always thought that the ClaimId site was a great idea and I have several accounts set up using the openid.claimid.com URI. The OpenID usage can be shifted to another service. But the listing of the sites that are either written by me or written about me will be harder to replace.

For those of you who were using this site, the problem becomes how to retrieve the information you had collected and posted on ClaimId. It occurred to me that this might actually be a very useful time to run a Google Search for my missing page and then examine (even save) the cached copy of my old page on the ClaimId service. I was able to do that and I have the info I need to reassemble the “by me” content listing.

I dropped a note to Fred about how I was able to recover my content. He wrote me back and shared a link for a script put together by Joel Purra that accesses the cached page and generates a nice dump in a json format.

I could not tell you how long the cached copies of people’s ClaimId.com pages will be available. If you have useful data to recover, I’d suggest you do it soon. If you find another service like ClaimId, please add a comment below. I’ll look at anything my readers offer as alternatives. And I’ll write up information on any that I find to be potentially useful.

So I’ll say thank you to Fred and others who made the service available. May it Rest In Peace.

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Follow-up on Facebook “Privacy” Settings

7 January 2010

I offer this as a follow-up to my earlier posting when Facebook changed its “privacy” policies.

I recently came across another Blog post that confirms everyone’s need to be concerned about the new Facebook privacy (or should we say lack-of-privacy) policies. Check out Dan Raine’s post called “I Know Everything About You from Your Email Address“.  Dan’s posting offers a link to an article at Wired.com entitled “Rogue Marketers Can Mine Your Info on Facebook” discusses how truly scary it is when you look at how much information people can collect through Facebook under their new privacy poolicies.

I respect that Dan is up front and honest about what information he collects about people who visit his site.  And I see the red flag that he points out.  There is so much information that is so easy to collect now that Facebook has changed its default settings making more of every users publicly accessible, unless you the user go in and change those settings.

Beware of Facebook “Privacy” Settings

10 December 2009

I have more than a passing interest in on-line privacy and on-line ID protection.  Sure, I have lots of different accounts on the Internet and a few Blogs.  It is not that I am terribly private or keeping to myself.  I am a member of several social networks, including Facebook and Twitter.  But I am also a participant at ClaimId.org (see my earlier posting on “Claim your on-line identity“).  I am also a volunteer with organizations that promote electronic encryption and authentication.  The point is, I care about these topics.  And I have read Facebook’s Privacy Policy.

I am one of those people who reads those privacy agreements. It is not because I enjoy legalize or boring documents.  It is because these documents tell one more about what privacy you give up when you agree with them, than they tell about how your privacy is protected.  I am particularly troubled by the changes at Facebook this week.  This morning, they initiated new changes to their privacy settings. They warned us this was coming.  But what I have seen so far has not been very clear about how these changes affect your privacy.  And I believe we all need to look carefully at this.  To be fair, they did put up a decent page to explain the new choices, but it is only a good start.

Hopefully you have visited the Facebook privacy settings area, where you can adjust how much of your information is visible and who can see it.  If you have never changed those settings from their defaults, you were probably sharing more information that you thought you were.  And if you have agreed to allow various applications to have access to your information, then your information is almost certainly more public than you thought.

What data are we talking about sharing

I expect most of us have a profile picture up and maybe your birthday, the name of your significant other, your home town and/or one or more phone numbers. That’s not a bad thing as long as it is only shared with those you choose to share then with.  I have all that information and more, but I am careful to make sure that only my acknowledged Facebook friends see this.  I had to adjust the default settings for this limited privacy.  Now even if I go in today and select “old settings” for my new Facebook privacy policy, there are things shared now that were not shared before.

Facebook’s new “privacy policy” now defines the set of publicly available information to include: Name, Profile Picture, Gender, Current City, Networks, Friend List, and Pages.  These are bits of information that you can not restrict access to by any means short of not sharing it with Facebook.

There are other things which you do get to decide who does and does not get to see it.  These include your birthdate, your family and relationships,  your education and work information and any phone numbers you have listed.  And from my perspective, the biggy is that Facebook wants to make all your status updates public. I don’t mind my friends seeing all this, but I don’t want it all publicly searchable.

I know that all my postings on twitter are public and searchable.  But since I know that, I am careful what I post there.  Up until today, I was fairly certain which things I post on Facebook are public and searchable and which are not.

The most important thing to consider is that under the new default basically everything that Facebook knows about you will be publicly available and searchable by places like Google and Yahoo.  The old policy let you choose which information was available only to your friends, or even friends of friends or to friends and a network you may belong to.  If you have set these privacy settings so that your information is only shared with your friends, that will still be true, if you select “Old Settings” when prompted about today’s privacy policy changes.  With some noteworthy exceptions, please read on.

Applications and Websites

I have adjusted privacy settings so that most of my information on Facebook is only shared with those I approve as friends.  The Applications and Websites area (let’s just call this Apps, to keep things readable) allows a Facebook friend to share information through Apps that they have joined. I am unhappy that even though I have said the info should only be shared with my friends, Facebook will by default allow those friends to share the information via Apps that I have not joined myself.  That’s right, by default my friends can share information that I want restricted.  I had to go into the Apps area under privacy settings to change this and restrict that data, that I already thought was restricted.

Consider carefully when you do join applications on Facebook.  Most of them ask if they can access your information so “they can better serve you” or to improve your experience.  I understand that having my information makes them better able to customize my experience.  But when I choose to play chess with a Facebook, friend, I do not think they need access to my birthday or my e-mail address.  Most applications do not let me control or restrict what information I share with them.

Know what you are sharing

So why this big long article?  I want to make you aware of the importance of knowing who has access to what information.  I’m sure most people don’t read those privacy statements.  I think it is important that you make an effort to review your privacy settings.  And as Facebook makes broad changes in their privacy settings, I want to strongly urge everyone to take the time to go through the Privacy Settings section of your Facebook account.  I think you will be surprised at what you find.

If you have questions about what you find, please feel free to post comments here.  If you find something that is now made more widely visible than you expected, please post that in a comment as well.  Perhaps you will find something that I missed.  Or maybe someone else will read this and find something they had not thought to look at.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far.  I try to keep my Blog posts shorter than this.  But our privacy (mine and yours) is worth a little extra effort.

Claim your ID Follow-up

12 November 2009

Already with a follow-up. I got an e-mail telling me something I did not know related to the ClaimID service. They have a Best Practices page on their website. Every web service should have a page like this.

http://claimid.com/bestpractices

Now while I did not know that the page existed, I was aware of some of these tips. I have had Google Alerts searches in place for over a year now. Not just searching for my own name, but also for my wife and two kids. I first learned that my wife set up a page at LinkedIn because of the Google Alert. And of course I quickly checked that it really was by her and about her. Whether or not you use ClaimID, running such searches on a regular basis are an important step in protecting your on-line identity.

And if you own a domain, don’t forget to check regularly to see what the search engines have that is pointing to your domain. Regrettably, when I search for SmallieFishing.com, I get hits on every page/article that discusses Smallmouth bass fishing. I guess that with my domain name, that’s not a bad thing.  I do need to keep up on that topic. 🙂

The ClaimID Best Practices also has a nice description of ways to improve a search by changing your search string. And while I rarely use search engines other than Google, they do give a good list that you can use.

One would think that a lot of these best practices would obvious just as good common sense. But even those of us who are interested in on-line identity protection can learn a new trick. You would think that as much as I depend on a spell checker, I would think of the value of searching for things by using common misspellings. While you may not get any interesting hits this way, I’d rather not miss something just because I assume everyone knows how to spell my 10 character last name.

If you have a suggestion for another best practice that could be applied here, please leave a comment. You might also consider e-mailing it to the ‘info’ at ‘claimid.com’ address.  Their page does say that will keep this list of best practices updated.   Pages like this are a very good thing.  And let’s not forget that the internet is more valuable when we all share our best practices.

More later, Ken S.

Claim your on-line identity

8 November 2009

I went through high school thinking that I could be the last Schumacher. I’m the only son of an only son. Teachers back then seemed to find my last name difficult. I was sure they had not heard it before. Then I got to college and I found out that Schumacher is as common a name among Germans as Smith is to the English. Even knowing that, I was still surprised to find that there are eight Ken Schumacher’s in Illinois alone.

I have enjoyed writing web pages for many years. I would practice developing HTML by writing about my many hobbies.  As I begin writing this Blog, I need to update my ClaimId.com listing.  The listing has links to and short descriptions of the pages out there on the internet that are either by me or about me.  Where possible, ClaimId.com has also verified that I as the owner of the listing really are the person in control of that web page.  I verified most of the pages by putting a unique MicroID into the header of my web pages.  When I add the code, it demonstrates that I do have write access and/or control of the site I am verifying.

Do you see the value in maintaining this type of listing on ClaimId.com?  If I went on a job interview, I would expect a potential employer to do a Google search at the very least.  If I was hiring someone, I would want to make sure that the information I could find on-line agreed with what I learn of the candidate from his/her resume or after an interview.  Or let’s say you read one of my pages about on-line privacy.  It would hurt my credibility if you came across a site where someone else who shares my name had posted rantings about how good he is at breaking passwords.

My point is that since I do maintain a page at ClaimId.com, I am not concerned about my on-line integrity.  My integrity is tremendously important to me.  If you read on a web page where I mention how important my family is to me, I know you will find the same sentiment on all the other web pages I have written.

In simple terms, I see the ClaimId.com site/service to be a form of on-line identity protection.  No, it does not protect my social security number or other IDs.  But it does allow me to make it quite clear which pages one will find on the internet are mine and which are not. I recommend all web developers and bloggers use their service.  Their free service protects my integrity, and like I said, that is very important to me.

More later,  Ken S.

Disclosure: Other than being a verified and satisfied user of their site, I am in no way affiliated with ClaimId.com.

Update 12 Nov 2009: Please see the Claim your on-line Id follow-up posting.


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