Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So Were You Going to Keep THIS a Secret Too

Get ready for the next wave of privacy alarm over the launch of a Facebook/Ticketmaster alliance that will allow Ticketmaster customers to see who among their friends is already going to a concert or event.

The technology alliance will appear on the Ticketmaster website and allow customers to look at a map of the venue, complete with pips that show which of your Facebook friends have already purchased tickets (provided they opted to share the information).

The article in Fast Company describes the technology in greater detail. But rest assured that there will now be much hue and cry about the possible violation of privacy that this advance presents.

I've become so weary with the issue that I now just say tiredly to people, "Well, I guess maybe YOU shouldn't use that feature."

Look, I know that some of us were going to hide the fact that we're going to see Lady Gaga (or maybe attend a weekend "double header" of Bette Midler and Teletubbies on Ice) and if that's what you want, then far be it from me to pry your precious secret from your tightly clenched little fist.

But the bottom line is that many of us actually want to interact with our friends and emerging technologies like this make it easier for us.  I'm not saying that we should be cavalier about our sensitive personal information, but that's not what's at stake here. I'm just saying that each time someone finds a better way for us to be interconnected with our friends and community, there are people who pop up to complain that it destroys another realm of secrecy that was mistakenly perceived to be safety.

I've done a lot of reading (and a fair amount of consulting work) in the realm of security and there's one thing I know as certainly as I know my names. It is that security systems which depend on secrecy and confusion are intrinsically weak and subject to compromise. (Passwords are regularly compromised, your SSN was never intended to be a secret authentication fact, and having an unlisted telephone number did NOT protect us from solicitors.)

The fact that six of my friends (unrelated to one another) were at the Shoreline Amphitheater to see Dave Chappelle is a fact that was unknown to me because of the chaos from our busy lives -- not because it was carefully guarded information. So I have to applaud an effort (even if it stems from mercenary intentions) that empowers me to make decisions about "which seat shall I take" when I get my own ticket.

I'm just sayin'... Once you got a cell phone and learned to pocket dial, it was time to start living your life as if any excerpt from your day might be played in a crowded well-lit courtroom filled with the people in your life that you respect. So come on! The secrets are dying. Did you want to keep fighting for their survival, or did you want to discover that a long-lost crush is going to be at the next Sharks game and you could sit near them?

For me, I'm takin' the crush!