It is nice to hear from my readers. It is even nicer when they write posts for me.

A long time Lumpy’s Corner reader messaged me on Facebook. He is a person, like myself, who likes to be able to decide for himself what private information he shares online. He and I don’t agree on everything, but I am certain that he would agree that opting in is the best thing. Services that force you to opt out are not our favorite things.

To simply quote him:

“I’m not sure if you saw the two links that I posted on my profile a few minutes ago. In case you didn’t, the jist of it is as follows:

In May/June last year, Yahoo! quietly rolled out a new social networking tool called Pulse. It is a quasi opt-out service. Quasi because it is not possible to get rid of it entirely without deleting the Yahoo! (including email) account altogether. This service aggregates any information it can find on the user and publishes it in a central location.”

One of the two links would be this notice at EFF. All in all it doesn’t seem too bad but as my reader/friend points out…

“A while ago (not sure but should be about two years), Yahoo! forced users to provide an alternative email address for security/password recovery. I provided my main email address, which happens to be [email protected] Yahoo parsed that info and substituted it for the made up name with which I am registered at Yahoo, thus linking my real name with my Yahoo activities — something that I set out to avoid.

Not outrageous enough? Well let’s come up with a scenario:

Consider that Yahoo! operates among other services Flickr. Now picture the case of a dissident in Egypt/Libya/Tunisia or wherever else people are currently rising up for regime change. Now imagine they have a Flickr account which they use to publish photos of the protests for westerners to gaffe at. Imagine further that their real name was linked to their Yahoo! profile in the same way mine was. Finally, fathom what would happen to them if their revolution fails.”

Personally, I am not as concerned about my privacy as my friend is. I am, in terms of the Internet, a public figure. I am such because I choose to share my personal life by blogging, podcasting, tweeting, and sharing photos. Certainly, if you are a “lifestreamer,” this would not likely concern you. However, if I worked for the Pentagon or was a member of a private militia, I am pretty sure I would feel different. Should it not be one’s own personal choice?

All these political leaders are so worried about piracy and such. Why should it even be legal for an email service provider to link my real name to my email addy and make it publicly available without my permission? It makes about as much sense as having to “opt out” of your landlord randomly entering your bedroom. Might it be that the protection of my privacy does not generate the politician any lobbying or campaign money?

The second link he mentioned is a video about this privacy breach. So remember, if you Yahoo!, we can find you.