SQLServerCentral Editorial

Is Data the Future of the Vibrant Web?


Data privacy is a fascinating subject. Since the GDPR was passed, I've had a lot of conversations with people about the GDPR and the way different people feel varies dramatically. Moreover, the way an individual feels often varies depending on the situation. I know plenty of people that want their own data completely private, but they also want no restrictions on what they do with data inside their organization. Others feel the exact opposite.

One type of data that many people don't think about is the cookie data that is used by Google and Facebook (among others) to track a user across many browsing sessions. This tracking is one reason that I see Redgate ads on a movie site or a new site. If I happened to search for SQL Compare, which I do sometimes to get a link, I might later see related ads on a site that has nothing to do with technology or SQL Server.

Apple, Firefox, and Microsoft have been experimenting with ways to give you some tracking protection in your browser. This should allow less data about individuals being captured, stored, analyzed, and then it couldn't get lost/stolen/hacked.

Google has a different approach, and one that I think benefits them and their paying customers more than the rest of us. The idea is to have some sort of data cap for types of information, above which the browser would return generic information. Potentially it could return inaccurate information, but I can't see that passing any sort of business relationship test with Google customers.

The goals here are relevant ads, and of course, information about you in order to serve relevant ads. While I think this goal will be met, I'm not sure it's much more private than the situation today.

Data privacy means allowing users to decide what data a company, including a tracking company, is willing to share. The way browsers have changed in the last few decades is complex and confusing. I have no idea what information they track from my system(s), and I'm not sure I would even understand the implications of enabling certain rights. While most of us wouldn't want to share our email, there are lots of other data that we might not be sure of the way it might be used.

Like most of the data privacy issues, I have no idea what to do here. The issues are complex and confusing. I would hope that Google would remember its "do no evil" origins and help us increase our ability to keep data private.