Contacts show us the way we want to stay in touch

Sharing your identifiers with people is something very personal. The choice of which identifiers to share and with whom depends on the type of contact. Data protection laws differ between “open”, “personal” and “sensitive” data, which each have to be protected in different ways.

Sensitive data refers to medical data, criminal records, etc. In our case, we’re mostly interested in “personal” data: that is, data that enables the holder of this information to identify a single person. The funny thing is that previously, when we still used printed phone books, these personal details were in fact â “open” data. What changed since then is the geographical scope: data is no longer merely accessible on a regional level, but on a global level — and that makes the whole difference. A global phone book with all our personal data is not necessarily something we want! The idea makes us uncomfortable, that someone can search and browse in an open dictionary for names, addresses and phone numbers based on location or city. Only people we already had contact with should be able to get in touch with us.

Source: shutterstock/megaflopp

In my work life, I spend some time in Skype calls. I have a business Skype account for that and the contacts in my Skype address book are mostly for professional use. Skype works fine if I am in my office and have a headset and a stable internet connection — Skype does not work for me when I am in a car or some remote area of Austria. That’s when I would like to use classic phone calls. It happened to me more than once that I didn’t have the mobile phone number of one of my Skype contacts. I imagine that none of my Skype contacts would have a problem giving me their mobile phone number — I just never asked.

This short story shows that data privacy has an initial step or “privacy clearance” where people fundamentally and mutually accept to stay in touch. The WAY in which they stay in touch is a second question but it’s not a matter of privacy, more a technical problem of how to exchange identifiers of the chosen platform(s). And that’s the heart of the problem we want to solve with launching soon, stay in touch!

Originally published at