Ideas, debates, analysis et al.


Tomás F. Serna

December 12, 2010

My grandfather, who lived to the age of 93, had a scotch every day of the last seventy years of his life. He only allowed himself a second one on saturday nights -he went to dinner out with my grandmother each and every saturday for 50+ years-, and when the United States had some kind of military incident around the world.

Most times it would work like this: News about some incident would break and he would call me and invite me over to his place. There, I would operate the satellite system to tune CNN on, and we would watch the news together. With a glass of scotch.

He had lived over 45 years on the Caribbean and had visited the US many, many times throughout his life, both for business and for leisure.

One thing was clear to him, when some local talking head complained on TV about the US acting as the “Police of the world” he always said that thank God someone was undertaking that role, and that it was good news for the “free world” that the ones taking care of that were the americans.

Just very recently we had a clear example on how very much we are in need of such a “world police”. North Korea, anyone?… (more…)

Comments (0) 5:12 pm |

Hans, José & João…

Tomás F. Serna

May 27, 2010

And so was I reading my twitter feed early this morning when I saw a link to an interesting article at the WSJ.
The title was: Who is Europe’s Biggest Loser?

The header also sported a catchy line: “And the Oscar for the Hardest Hit From the Greek Bailout Goes to…”

At that stage it was impossible for me but to read the whole piece and within it’s first few lines I found this hidden gem: (…) “Hans is being robbed —not given any choice—to pay for carefree Stavros, and may soon be robbed to pay for José’s and Joãos” (…)

I enjoyed reading the piece and so I promptly tweeted the following: “WSJ: Hans is being robbed to pay for carefree Stavros, and may soon be robbed to pay for José’s and Joãos.”

And here is the response from José, our esteemed editor-in-chief… who within seconds e-mailed me the following one line:

Comments (0) 10:31 am |

Malentendidos, desinformaciones y realidades acerca de la disposición final primera del Anteproyecto de Ley de Economía Sostenible

Tomás F. Serna

10 de diciembre, 2009

El Consejo de Ministros aprobó el pasado 27 de noviembre el Anteproyecto de Ley de Economía Sostenible. El anteproyecto es una ley cajón de sastre del estilo al que se preparó en su momento en torno al conocido de todos ‘plan nacional de substitución de aceras en buen estado general por otras más nuevas’ (también conocido como “Plan E”), y viene a ser en síntesis una nueva amalgama de modificaciones de normas encaminadas en teoría hacia la reforma del modelo económico de las civilizaciones occidentales. Ahí es nada.

En lo que hoy nos interesa, el anteproyecto prevé una disposición adicional primera que se ha convertido en fuente inagotable de protagonismo mediatico para determinados representantes de la sociedad civil española en Internet.

Comments (0) 4:18 pm |

Yahoo! takes the lead in EU data protection compliance

Tomás F. Serna

December 17, 2008

The on-line privacy arena is getting hotter by the minute… Yahoo! announced today a new global data retention policy which highlight consists in that: (…) “Yahoo! will anonymize user log data within 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations. Yahoo! will also expand the policy to apply not only to search log data but also page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks.”

By taking this step, not only Yahoo! is complying with EU law, but it is most probably setting a new standard that Google and Microsoft -amongst others- will have no other option but to follow.

As recently as last week (Dec. 9th.), Microsoft made the news by stating that they would anonymize and discard data from search queries earlier if ‘others’ did the same.

As earlier discussed in this forum, Google has been engaged in a year and a half ‘disagreement‘ with EU data protection officials that has taken its privacy and data retention policies to shrink from a very open “for as long as they are useful” to a period in between 18 to 24 months, and more recently to 9 months.


Comments (1) 3:43 pm |

Best privacy policy. Ever.

Tomás F. Serna

December 8, 2008

Privacy is a hot topic these days, and we want you to feel totally comfortable using our service, so our privacy policy is very simple: when you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (…). Your search history is your business, not ours.” (…)

Now, this is refreshing.

This privacy policy belongs to, a somewhat recent initiative in the Internet ‘search’ business arena.

Founded amongst others by ex-googlers and billed as the “biggest Internet search engine” –it claims to have 120 billion web pages in its index, “3x more than any other search engine“–, Cuil inc. “analyzes de web, not its users“. That last one, is another line I love. You’ll be able to find it in the site’s FAQ.

Ixquick, a EU based search engine that was awarded the first European Privacy Seal (EuroPriSe) earlier this year, comes close to this. They recognize that search history can poise a serious privacy problem and they provide the following approach: They state that the only real solution is to delete user’s data and they promise to do so after 48 hours.

This was groundbreaking for me when I discovered Ixquick through EuroPriSe a couple months ago. It still is when compared to policies operated by major search engines out there. But Cuil’s way of tackling the issue is a much better one for the privacy conscious user. Or for any kind user for that matter. The first and foremost solution is to not record personal information from users in the first place.

So kudos to Cuil! This is a true breakthrough in the search engine business model. I really hope they can keep it up.

On a final note, I’d like to direct readers to Ixquick’s privacy information pages. Some interesting information over privacy and search engines there.

Comments (0) 1:22 pm |

Praise for EuroPriSe

Tomás F. Serna

September 23, 2008

The European Privacy Seal (EuroPrise), project is an interesting initiative lead by the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein (Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz, ULD). This body is the local data protection authority of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost federal state of Germany.

Funded under the European Commission’s eTen Programme, it currently consists in a nine European partner consortium to which Madrid’s Data Protection Authority is a party.

At its essence, what this program is aiming to do is to establish a voluntary certification program by which any company or individual could: a) Gain assurance that her product or service is in compliance with EU data protection Laws, and b) Send a message to the marketplace and to consumers (end-users) stating: We take user’s privacy seriously. Should you choose to use this product or service, rest assured that nothing funny is taking place regarding your personal information. See, we have this seal to prove it. (more…)

Comments (2) 1:32 pm |
« Previous Entries