As I watch the news unfolding about Path (link) and the controversy over accessing my address book, I can't but shake my head in amazement that people are still missing the point. It's not that they accessed my data without my permission that's the problem - it's that I have no choice in what I choose to share that's at the heart of the matter.
Think about it for a moment, Michael Arrington is an investor in Path. Now Michael probably has an address book only second to Ron Conway's. Can you just imagine the number of aspiring entrepreneurs who would love to access that database. And it's probably all sitting up on someone's servers somewhere.
Now to their credit Path immediately issued an apology and deleted everyone's data from their servers. So far so good. Now comes the problem - they then updated their app so that it asked "permission" to access your address book. As someone would tweet - #fail.
They are still missing the core problem - I want to allow Path access to "some of the people in my address book" - but only those who Path turn into something of value for me. And therein (as the Bard says) lies the problem. Privacy is NOT binary, it's contextual. Not only do I want a choice in what I share, I want to ensure that sharing the data results in a better outcome for both parties.
What the current approach to Privacy has #failed to do is deliver not only a choice, but it has failed to make it contextually aware of not only Who I am, but Where I am. My Privacy has value - it must have because at the moment this topic is becoming radioactive - and yet my only "Choice" is binary. Either share it or not. Well how about offering me something in return? Why do you get to keep the value and I don't. Seems like an unfair choice to me.
Ultimately Privacy is a balance between ensuring Privacy and allowing information to be shared for a better outcome.
And that's why we invented the new Choice™ browser. It gives you a choice in what and to whom, you want to share your personal data with.