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What’s in your (data) wallet? November 12, 2010

Posted by Mark Hillary in Outsourcing, Software.
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So Google is fighting with Facebook over the right to access the address books of each other. The issue is that Facebook allows the user to find new friends by scouring through your Google address book and determining whether those email address are active on the social networking site.

But Facebook doesn’t allow Google the reciprocal rights to go scouring through the friends of a Facebook user and to scoop up their contact details for the Google address book. This anomaly has existed for some time with Google grumbling about it, but now their frustration has boiled over to the point that they have stopped allowing Facebook automatic access to Google address books. It’s still possible to do it all manually by exporting contacts to a file and then importing them, but it’s fiddly and has multiple steps, especially compared to the automatic check.

So who owns your address book anyway? Isn’t that list of contacts actually your own property? How can these giant corporations be fighting over my address list – as someone who uses services from both companies, like half a billion others. Well, if you still use a Filofax or Rolodex then you do own your contacts, but that doesn’t help very much when you want to send an email or make a call, unless you are sitting at your desk right next to that stack of thousands of Rolodex cards.

Both companies can clearly see a converged future. Mobile phones are synchronising automatically with online address books now, so the player who ends up with the dominant address book system will be in a powerful position, controlling email, social network, and mobile contact databases for hundreds of millions of people and watching how users use those contacts.

I’m interested in the point at which that information, self-created by me, ceased to be my own property. Do I have a say in how my address book is used or squabbled over any longer?

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Comments»

1. Daniel Byrne - November 23, 2010

Who owns my contacts on Linked-In? Me or my firm?

2. Angelica Mari - November 24, 2010

A couple of years ago, recruitment firm Hays sued Mark Ions, a former employee and the result was that Ions was ordered to disclose his contact network. At the time, the court backed Hays case that Ions had breached the terms of his employment contract. This included a mention around the restriction to use confidential information other than for the purposes of his employment with the recruitment company. Had this happened today, in a world where business/personal lives are blurring, would the outcome be same I wonder?


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