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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

Bill Gates Knows What You Did Last Summer 303

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-us-everything dept.
theodp writes "Give Bill Gates your 'pictures, videos, documents, e-mail, instant messages, addresses, calendar dates/scheduling information (e.g., birthdays, anniversaries, appointments), voice mail, phone logs, RSS feeds, subscriptions, bookmarks, mail lists, project management features, computing device data, tasks and location data,' and he'll improve your 'quality of life.' That's the promise behind a patent issued Thursday to Bill Gates and his 20 co-inventors for 'Personal Data Mining', which Microsoft notes 'can include a monetization component' that 'could initiate an auction to sell information to the highest bidder.'"
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Bill Gates Knows What You Did Last Summer

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  • by You'reJustSlashFlock (1708024) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:33PM (#31024286) Journal
    When Google does it, it's okay.  Thats why Slashdot has the evil Borg for Bill Gates and the friendly Google logo for Google.
  • Choice? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:38PM (#31024366) Homepage

    So I guess the real choice is whether you want Bill Gates to have all your data, or Steve Jobs. But either way, google already has it. :)

  • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:47PM (#31024490) Journal

    Being free from the manipulations of other people who think they know what is best for me is an absolutely indispensable part of a quality life. Be it marketers or moralists, I don't care.

  • by twidarkling (1537077) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:48PM (#31024506)

    Parent will inevitably be modded funny, but I'd like to point out there's a lot of people who'd benefit from doing number 1, and would like assistance in number 2. And hey, everyone loves a giant anthropomorphic paper clip, bring him along!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:52PM (#31024552)

    Trust no one, especially not a publicly traded, for-profit corporation.

  • by EzInKy (115248) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:55PM (#31024598)

    For the most part that is because Google doesn't require using Google software on your personal computing device to access Google services. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to take offense if you are not using their platform.

  • by rdavidson3 (844790) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @01:55PM (#31024600)

    Isn't that already called Google, where you give them your email, your pictures, your videos, your calendar, all your documents, all your web searches, and about half of your total web surfing (*cough* analytics *cough* doubleclick *cough)?

    That's why double-click and google-analytics are on my blocked no-script list.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:05PM (#31024722) Journal

    Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to take offense if you are not using their platform.

    I guess it's why e.g. Office Live Apps officially support [msdn.com] Firefox (including on Linux and Mac), and Safari.

    You could say that using IE (or at least Silverlight) is nonetheless suggested, but then again, every time I log into GMail with my favorite browser (Opera), I see the ad urging me to try out Google Chrome...

  • Re:Privacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:06PM (#31024754)

    Perhaps you should take a moment to define what sets the quality of your life - I define it by clean drinking water, warm shelter, and having access to entertainment.

    Ah, so for you 'Brave New World' was utopia.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:09PM (#31024772)

    Okay, I'm confused. Whenever privacy is discussed around here, we say "wouldn't it be great if we could retain personal control over our data, and could willingly decide whom to sell our data to?"

    I think I can dissolve your confusion.

    Real privacy would mean you get to decide whether this data is collected in the first place. If it's going to be gathered anyway and you might get a little discretion over how it is used once amassed, that's not real privacy. Sort of like the way that the ability to choose your master is not real freedom.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:09PM (#31024776)
    If water, shelter, and access to entertainment is all it takes for you to remain happy, you have some ridiculously low standards. Settling for less just because others go without is a hollow gesture, and speaking down to others about it from a soapbox is more than a little disingenuous. Think the rape victims in Darfur will be able to sleep well at night because of your 'sacrifices'?
  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:15PM (#31024846) Journal

    If you are confidant that others can not use personal information against you, then there is no need for privacy. For instance, if everyone knew everything about everyone, then everyone would know that someone was using your information against you, and could act against that person.

    You don't think that a guarantee of privacy would have made, say, Alan Turing's life much better? If you do things that are not morally wrong, but other people think they are then privacy is very much essential for your quality of life.

  • by NecroPuppy (222648) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:28PM (#31025012) Homepage

    You get such interesting stuff when it's way off.

    I recently picked up, at a going out of business sale, a piece of jewelry that was normally $1200 for less than $200.

    Since then, I've gotten several high end credit card offers, none of which I would normally qualify for.

    So mess with the system.

    Use your grocery store card... but only when buying beef jerkey and toilet paper.
    Get your name on a couple strange mailing lists.
    etc.

    If the data becomes so worthless that they can't actually use it, they'll stop. But only if enough of us go through with this.

    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

  • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:31PM (#31025058)

    Please explain. I'm not sure where that goes. It's very unclear.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:38PM (#31025152)
    Do you think they sleep better because you are afraid of Bill Gates Data mining?

    Couldn't tell ya - What's happening over there isn't going to interfere with the standards of living I hold myself to. That includes a life away from prying eyes.

    I'll stand on my soap box because I donate to Amnesty international and other such organizations that try to stop such attrocities.

    You, me, and millions of other people. And?

    ...but at least I'm not complaining when someone wants to patent a marketting ploy.

    So you wouldn't mind of I setup a few webcams around your place? Maybe parked a couple directional mics towards your windows? Good deal. Keep holding your personal privacy in such low regard, perhaps you'll get a nice pat on the back from the G-man someday.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:39PM (#31025170) Homepage Journal

    A clean interface; not wanting to own my computer; not wanting me to do everything their way; not calling design flaws "features"; not charging me for beta software; not charging me hundreds of dollars for products that should cost, at most, tens; not being cutesy and pandering to ten year olds (including Clippy).

    Google treats me like I'm a respectable adult. Microsoft treats me like I'm a retarded five year old.

  • Where are all the /. posters who've said the past few months that everyone should move to Bing over Google, because Google is the evil behemoth that doesn't respect your privacy?

    I'm just curious.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by An ominous Cow art (320322) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:45PM (#31025234) Journal

    I think it's time to post a link to this story [sff.net] again.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:47PM (#31025248) Homepage

    And when the analysts look at the bell curve, the outliers that are the weird are easily isolated and discarded from the analysis.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdotNO@SPAMideasmatter.org> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:49PM (#31025262) Journal

    I don't doubt a bit of data mining went into that. I don't see the harm it could have produced. I only see a successful result, both her and the companies are happier for it.

    Yes, we all know that data-mining makes a market more efficient. Why should my mailbox be stuffed with ads that I do not care about? I, and the marketer and the retailers and everyone else, would rather the ads were relevant.

    The problem is that this same data can be used to identify and persecute people who behave unfashionably. Their behavior may be perfectly moral (e.g. spanking a child, or buying a rifle, to take some pop examples), but is no longer en vogue. Privacy allowed them to continue behaving morally when the tide of fashion turned against them (i.e. society tried to drive them to immoral/inefficient behavior).

  • Re:Privacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @03:03PM (#31025424) Journal

    I don't doubt a bit of data mining went into that. I don't see the harm it could have produced. I only see a successful result, both her and the companies are happier for it.

    If I were in the data mining business, I'd also make sure that you don't notice the disadvantage.
    For example, are you sure that the interest she has to pay for some credit wouldn't be lower if the bank had not had access to some mined data which unfortunately correlates with bad payment behaviour, without her paying behaviour actually being bad?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @03:34PM (#31025714)

    there's a lot of people who'd benefit from doing number 1

    No. Not a lot of people. Everyone. A simple credit check would have saved me from a very bad marriage.

  • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PotatoFarmer (1250696) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @03:51PM (#31025892)
    The fact that someone would do all those things is in itself more data about that person's habits. The real trick is to selectively limit your audit trail so that you still appear in the middle of the distribution curve. Like schooling fish and flocking birds, the best form of anonymity is to surround yourself with a few million things just like yourself.

    Sadly, the end result of this sort of behavior is that Netflix recommends I watch Transformers 2. A high price to pay, but such are the wages of freedom.
  • Re:Privacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @04:00PM (#31025994)

    John just wasn't conditioned with the proper morality for such an environment

    That pretty much applies to any environment. Working hard in the sugar mines for your insect overlords is utopia too. Serving the insect overlords is good, and serving them should bring you a sense of tranquil satisfaction. The pain they inflict in their whippings is cleansing, and motivational, and while you should avoid failing to live up to their expectations you should take pride in knowing that they care enough about you to invest time in you like that. As for the fact that you are dying of malnutrition? Death is a welcome and inevitable end to all things, and your passing will make more room and food available for your children, who are much stronger than you, and much more able to serve the overlords. In a way, this is really for the best, and you should recognize this, and it should give you tranquil satisfaction and happiness.

    If you disagree, you just aren't conditioned with the proper morality for such an environment, for it is truly utopia.

    Or to pose a more interesting question: What is utopia if not happiness, and if you don't care how does an invasion of privacy (in and of itself) affect your happiness?

    Utopia is not simply "happiness". As a result, the follow up question misses the point.

    What -is- utopia? It is an "ideal society" of liberty, equality, and harmony.

    Naturally any ideal society will have happy and contented citizens, but any society with happy citizens is not necessarily a utopia. Put people in cages and condition them to be happy there is not a path to utopia. It is a means to an end that bears some superficial semblance of utopia.

    Taking away liberty and equality to enforce harmony is dystopian, even if you replace liberty with 'conditioning not value it'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @04:25PM (#31026398)

    If I use fireFox, with JavaScript enabled, the cookies are set with default values and therefore the content *is* available regardless of whether I have Office installed.

    So you use no script on a ONLINE OFFICE SUITE and then complain it screws up things? Who would've thunk? If Google or MS tested every combo of you messing around, they would be doing only that instead of serving their customers.

    Enabling scripts, loading the page, then disabling scripts, results in the message at the top of the page, along with the requested page content (which doesn't appear prior to loading scripts): ,

    Ya screw around more.

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