Unforgettably yours?

On a mailing list that I frequent, someone recently posted a set of statements which gave me pause for thought. I thought about the millions (billions?) of personal details stored in private collections of personal details, also known as contact lists. And I thought about how little care we take about how we treat that information.

I will summarise the statements as follows:

  • I have a large address book of contacts, which is growing fast
  • I’m a member of multiple social sites, like Facebook, Twitter…
  • my contacts currently live in Google Apps
  • I want my contacts available in each service
  • I could import my address book into each service
  • but I’d like to automate it

Which led me wonder what details the writer might have collected about his numerous contacts. Name, address, phone, email, birthday…? And without asking all these people whether it’s OK with them, the writer is wanting and planning to dump their details (automatically if possible) into multiple privacy-hostile service providers’ databases. For the sake of convenience.

Given the state of privacy laws in Australia and their near-total lack of meaningful enforcement, no-one can stop this person doing whatever they like with whatever data they collect.

But if you are like this person, and think that my personal details are yours to do as you please with, and specifically yours to share with large commercial third parties whose avowed intention is to collect all the data in the Universe, I do have a request.

Please – forget me. Before you make me unforgettable.