We too may soon be judged as YouTube order tracks our web access Everyone loves YouTube – except the bosses at American TV empire Viacom.
Last week they secured a legal ruling that took the whole internet by surprise: YouTube was told by a judge to hand over records of which users have watched which videos.
That’s not a trivial amount of data. It’s an enormous database of information that Viacom seems to think will be useful in its battle to prevent people watching illegally uploaded copyright material on the web.
The problem with this approach is that it is indiscriminate. Everyone who has ever watched anything on YouTube is affected – which is millions of internet users across the world. The vast majority of them have done nothing wrong. There are privacy issues at stake, too: should an American corporation have the right to see what videos you’ve been watching?
YouTube users have been using the site for years, never considering that what they do there would come under any scrutiny, at least not by a third party. Now this legal decision has flipped that idea on its head.
It’s a harsh lesson for any internet user: your online behaviour and your stored personal data are both at risk.
If you want to be sure of privacy, stay anonymous online as much as possible.
Google doesn’t like to get left behind by other online developments, so it has created a virtual world all of its own, called Lively (www.lively.com). Lots of people have compared it to Second Life, but it’s more like a 3D chat room than an alternative universe.Windows users can download the free Lively software, then start building their own chat rooms and personal avatars. Once your room is up and running, you can also embed it into a web page.
It’s an interesting idea – let’s see if it catches on.
The Government’s ID card plans have met with strong opposition from civil rights campaigners on the internet (www.no2id.net).
Now the Home Office is fighting back with a website of its own – My Life My ID (www.mylifemyid.org) – aimed at 16 to 25- year-olds. The site says it’s offering young people the chance to comment on the ID card proposals – so if you fall into that age bracket and you have an opinion, why not go and share it there?
And if you’re a scrapbooking fan, you might like Scrapblog (www.scrapblog.com).
It’s a free site where you can upload your photos, videos and poems, and put them together as a “multimedia scrapbook” that you can share with friends.
The site has everything you require – all you need is your browser and some creative ideas.
Giles Turnbull has a web site at gilest.org