Departing Microsoft Privacy Guru Blasts Current State Of Net Advertising

Kim Cameron former Microsoft engineer

Kim Cameron, a Microsoft distinguished engineer and outspoken advocate of Internet privacy, left the company last week.

In a video interview yesterday, he says that Microsoft is on the right track, but he’s worried that user privacy will get lost in the shuffle as big Internet companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook fight for market share.

Cameron’s work is in identity management — a term that refers to how computer systems identify individuals and make sure they are who they claim to be. It’s a heady subject with a lot of room for philosophizing — Cameron’s 2005 paper on the seven laws of identity is a great example — but it’s increasingly important as we spend more time online, and as Internet companies collect more information about users so they can target ads more effectively.

Talking at the Kuppinger Cole European Identity Conference, Cameron said that there are lots of advocates within companies for the idea that users should have complete control over their identity information, “but companies haven’t embraced that as their central motivation. They’re really fighting over market share.”

He continued, “Many people inside Microsoft, Google, Facebook, all the others, see this user-centric stuff actually can be good. User-centric advertising can be more effective than shotgun splattering of ads all over us, or profiling that alienates us and makes us feel like robots are running our lives….Over time, those things will come to the fore in certain companies, and those companies will have an advantage.”

He also thinks there are many new things coming up, including the death of the password thanks to mobile devices.

The whole thing is here: