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Comments and discussion on TBTF for 1999-12-16

Ed Schmidt
06:10 AM ET (US)
I'll just toss this out and see what happens...

How about a be-all, do-all privacy policy website?
(It might be able to set a few standards or at least do ratings)...
Peter Suber
01:31 PM ET (US)
Keith: In your story on Backflip, you said, "They offer a free service that personalizes Web searches. For them to do this you need to entrust Backflip with your entire browsing history and ongoing clickstream." As far as I can tell, this is untrue. Backflip is only an online bookmark manager. Users are given the option to upload their browser's bookmark file, but this is not required for using the service. Nor does Backflip monitor your clickstream. It only knows where you've been if you choose to bookmark your stops.

Having said that, Backflip does trespass on my privacy in two ways which I dislike and which you didn't mention. (1) To upload your bookmark file, you must give permission to its Java program to copy, modify, or delete any file on your system. Clearly this permission excessive for the job. When I complained and asked whether I could send my file as an email attachment, they replied that this wouldn't work because the human beings who read email lack authority to put anything into a user's account. Moreover, they added, this less intrusive method had not occurred to them. (2) Backflip has a clever way for users to bookmark sites without visiting their account. It requires an affirmative click on a Backflip icon. I assumed from reading the FAQ that this was the only way to add sites to my Backflip list. Wrong. Every time I add a site to my Netscape bookmark file, the same site is added to my Backflip list. If they can do this, why bother with the upfront, affirmative-click method? It's very misleading.

Thanks for your work, which I always enjoy reading.
Nicholas Bodley
01:24 PM ET (US)
Khuzaima Lakdawala
06:49 AM ET (US)
Keith Dawson
09:59 PM ET (US)
Use this forum to comment on or discuss TBTF for 1999-12-16: Humble. I've set up another forum for one of the articles in this issue; if your contribution is about the eToys/etoy debacle, please follow the link.

- Is eToys paying in market cap for bullying etoy?

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