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Service Providers: Whom Can You Trust?

News.com is reporting that the fall out from AOL's privacy fiasco has begun....

News.com is reporting that the fall out from AOL's privacy fiasco has begun. Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the digital rights group, filed a complaint against AOL with the Federal Trade Commission. The complaint argues that AOL violated federal laws that forbid "deceptive trade practices" because its privacy policy said no such mass disclosure would take place.

The policy says that "network information" of its users generally won't be shared with third parties. According to News.Com, AOL defines "network information" as: "Depending on how you use the network, your AOL Network information may include... information about the searches you perform through the AOL Network and how you use the results of those searches."

The "may" could give AOL some wiggle room, notes author, Declan McCullagh, but regardless the lesson has been made to anyone considering an outsourced service.

The fear of such a privacy breach is why so many IT managers favor keeping an IP PBX on premise than deploying a hosted VoIP service, such as M5 Networks, Packet8 or some other provider.

The voice infrastructure is sensitive enough as it stands today. In the future, that infrastructure is liable to extend beyond the traditional call switching platform into data applications. In theory, service providers could provide IT with those capabilities as readily as premise equipment, but they'll first need to demonstrate and insure customers that the sort of breaches seen with AOL won't occur with corporate services as well.

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