Data I Should Not Have

Last night, over beers with Smári, Tómas, Björgvin and Ewelina, I had a funny realization: For privacy reasons, I should activly abastain from ever obtaining a copy of the Icelandic phone book in digital form.

Why? Because of this: my own private database of phone numbers and menstrual cycles.

It's anonymous, because I (deliberately) do not collect names or IP addresses or e-mail addresses or anything else which might directly identify my users. I don't even know their gender - I just assume most of my users are women. However, if I had a copy of the phone book, then I could easily link many of the numbers to names, even home addresses.

There are creepy potential scenarios there.

Of course, the fact that I am aware of these issues and think about them, means it probably wouldn't really matter if I had both. Throughout my professional life I've had access to all sorts of private information, and ignoring the opportunities to snoop has become second nature. I'm pretty trustworthy, if I may say so myself. :-P

Also, I could just go to the phone book on-line and look numbers up by hand, right? So what's the difference?

It's subtle, but I feel this:

I do not have your private details and promise not to seek them out.

... is a much stronger statement than this:

I have your private details, but promise not to look.

The former requires malicious intent in order for abuse to take place, the latter may only require an accident of some kind.

So it follows that I should strive to never possess a copy of the Icelandic phone book in digital form. It shouldn't be too hard.

Tags: tech, privacy

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