Eric Schmidt said here yesterday that the social layer of location services that gets analyzed needs to be opt-in as well, perhaps a surprising statement given the uproar over Google Buzz's opt-out data exposure defaults, which Schmidt still insists were an imagined not real problem.
The uproar over Facebook's Instant Personalization feature earlier this year, as well, was based in the way it took an opt-out approach instead of being opt-in.
HP may be best known for printers and personal computers, but the company's technology in fact grows more far-reaching every day. Last week, for example, reports surfaced that HP had filed for copyrights concerning both tablet computers and an airline reservation management system. Both of those are areas wherein privacy will be important.
"What we tend to do, which is the easiest approach, is an opt-in approach. Personalization, context based search, where the system knows where you are and what your interests are - if we make sure people can opt in then we're part of the way there. But it's going to be policy and technology. And privacy varies by region, there's a different set of issues here than there is in China.
We really need to establish a set of standards around privacy that will help companies around the world interoperate. We are going to be very active and invest heavily in standards bodies, but this is an industry issue so all the big players need to be active. This is a really big issue if we want to expand [the information economy] the way we should be.
Robinson also said that "unstructured data" like video, audio and user click-streams is growing three times as fast today as data structured with clear metadata and formatting is. In order to deal with that, many departments in HP are working on facial and image recognition. That's part of where the company's interest in privacy comes from.
The potential for value to be found in the information economy truly can't be overstated and it's very interesting that HP is taking a firm stance in support of standards and an opt-in strategy.