Yes, I was right to be concerned about
March 17, 2007, 8:56 pm
Filed under: fon, opinion

Since sites like Orkut and Facebook ploughed an early furrow in social networking, and Web2.0 was just a twinkle in Tom O’Reilley’s eye, people have been concerned with matters of privacy on the internet. More recently people have voiced concerns that the explosion of social networking sites like MySpace, Flickr & the like, but I fear that this may be falling on deaf ears.

I love social networks, I have a very healthy Flickr account, I’m a member of LinkenIn, I use MyBlogLog to see who’s been reading my blog, and recently I thought I’d give a go.

They were giving away a free wireless router, so I signed up and submitted my details, thinking nothing of the fact that they’d asked for my name and address, after all, they needed to know where to send my router. The router arrived a while later, and sat in it’s box till I got time to set it up properly.

Imagine my surprise when I logged in and went to look at a map of my local area to see my full address published, and printed on a map. To make matters worse the page they provide to alter what information is displayed on the screen is broken, and results in a blank page when you try and save any new, less revealing info.

If there was a warning that my info was going to be published like that, the warning certainly wasn’t obvious enough because I don’t remember it. I feel like this is partly my fault, I rushed into signing up for this service without reading the Privacy Policy properly, because in the last section it does say what they will do with your data, and if I’d done a search of my area on the map before signing up, I would have seen what data they publish, but I still feel new users should be given more of a warning when signing up.

I sent a support ticket to Fon on March 5th, and another on March 14th after the first received no reply. I was amazed at the response I got to the 2nd ticket:

Dear Customer,

It´s a bug and we are trying to fix it.
If you want, tell me your e-mail address and password, and the information you would like to update.

Fon Customer Care

Frankly, I’m amazed that I was even asked for my password. Even the least savvy of internet users (like say, my Dad) wouldn’t email someone their password. I suppose I should thank small miracles that my password isn’t stored in plain text, and “Sergio” couldn’t just look it up.

So I think I was right to be worried about, and so should you.

Update (23/03/07): You can now edit your details, and I have made mine a little more fuzzy, if your address is listed in full, I suggest you do the same.


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