Privacy Experts Weigh In on Whether There Is a Cure for “Creepy” (Video)

Sometimes the Internet is a creepy place.

There are identity thieves, stalkers and people generally trying to take advantage of you.

At least that was one of the things that I took away from a privacy conference last week in Seattle, where the word “creepy” slipped into the conversation as a description of everything from location-based services to more cutting edge Internet businesses.

But advocates argued that the cure for creepy was to make services relevant and useful — not spammy and invasive. In other words, consumers are willing to share their information — age, gender, location — if there’s a benefit to them.

I moderated a panel titled “Building Trust in the Sharing Economy,” which addressed identity issues as people become more comfortable using the Internet to find babysitters, rent out their apartments or lend their car to strangers.

In those cases, honest people typically don’t mind sharing information about themselves in order to be considered a trustworthy consumer or provider. It’s a red flag if they don’t.

Sonny Singh, the VP of sales and business development at Jumio, said it’s not creepy when you show your driver’s license to Hertz when you’re renting a car or to a hotel when you’re checking in. That’s why it shouldn’t be viewed as strange when you use sharing services like Airbnb or RelayRides.

But he said, instead, “they are assuming from your Facebook profile that you are who you say you are.”

Jumio is developing technology that allows users to verify their identity by entering their credit card and driver’s license information using a webcam or camera phone.

Participants in the panel (from left to right in the picture) are: Tricia Duryee, AllThingsD; Drummond Reed, founder, Connect.me; Sam Rosen, co-founder, Scaffold; Xin Chung, CEO and founder, Trustcloud; and Singh.

Here’s a video of the whole discussion, but you can skip to around the 26-minute mark to hear the whole discussion on “creepy.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work