Be careful with your data at LotusLive

by Volker Weber

As you may recall, my LotusLive trial recently expired without notice. It just would not let me in anymore. Today I searched for myself at a page which is linked as "Find people who are using LotusLive" from here. The interesting result:


Clicking that link took me here:


So, IBM keeps your data, but you can't remove it, since you no longer have access. Be careful out there.


Well the headline does not apply only to "lotus live" but to every single community out there.

Thomas Schulte, 2009-06-30

Not necessarily. I have terminated membership in a few networks and could not find my data there later.

Volker Weber, 2009-06-30

Well this is the thing behind the headline. And regarding this you are right. If a membership expires either by my own will or like yours because the trial period is over, the community should NOT make your data available for public search any longer.
And i also think they should delete them from their server.

Thomas Schulte, 2009-06-30

I've found the LotusLive support to be very responsive. Have you approached them with this issue? If you have and they have not provided you a means to address this problem, then you've made a fair point. If not, you're needlessly spreading FUD. It is an issue that their design team should take into account, but it is not an indicator that people should fear for loss of control of their data.

Phil Salm, 2009-06-30

Phil, if I had signed up for LotusLive (which I have not) and my trial expired, I would have expected my contact information to be unavailable from any searches. I think any reasonable person would. I appreciate Volker making people aware that this is behaving differently than a lot of other similar services by not only keeping your data around but also making it available for searches.

I should not have to engage the provider to have my information removed, or it should be made clear in the expiration notice that I will need to. The issue here is not one of FUD, it's a violation of basic privacy principles and reasonable expectations. I am sure that if Volker truly cares about his information being accessible he will contact LotusLive to have it removed. But again, that's not the point.

Charles Robinson, 2009-06-30

All your base are belong to us...

Armin Roth, 2009-06-30

...and basically a typical thing in Lotus environments: You have to write a polite mail to somebody in order to arrive at something you have a perceived right to anyway and it might happen eventually, or maybe not. Speaking about empowerment.

Armin Roth, 2009-06-30

Phil, as Charles has pointed out, nobody should need to call support. I am pretty sure that IBM would be quite responsive if I did call them. I cannot imagine they have a lot of customers to attend to. :-)

No, this is just amateur hour. LotusLive does not seem to have a state in their process for "trial has run out". They just have the typical enterprise solution: lock the user out and worry about the data later. You may recall we had the same issue with Connections: you could not delete a user. The rationale then was that the data belongs to the enterprise anyway and you just move the user into a locked "has-been" group.

In this case, there is a customer. Different situation. If the customer can't access the data, nobody should. Yes, you could keep it for a grace period to enable somebody to extend their trial or go into a regular contract, but it should be invisible in between.

Volker Weber, 2009-06-30

Volker and Charlie, as I stated in my original comment, I agree that this is an issue that the LotusLive team needs to address and that a call to support should not be required.

But the title of your post is "Be careful with your data on LotusLive" and your reasoning is because a person can find themselves in a situation where "IBM keeps your data, and you can't remove it" which, in tone if not in spirit, implies that people should not use LotusLive because they may lose control of any data they post there. My point is that a simple email to support should resolve the issue. A design flaw, yes. A conspiracy to capture and control your business data, no.

Phil Salm, 2009-06-30

Phil, I absolutely agree with you on that. If a wing comes off a plane midflight, I would consider this a design flaw as well, and not a conspiracy. :-)

Volker Weber, 2009-06-30

Seems a little counter intuitive to put live data on a trial subscription doesn't it?

Slamming the provider because you put private data on a trial service, that you didn't renew and that data became public domain, is not the provider's fault.

Having any expectations of data ownership on a trial service is silly really, isn't that tantamount to going into production with beta software, then getting pissy at the developer when it breaks?

Brett Hershberger, 2009-06-30

Slamming the provider because you put private data on a trial service, that you didn't renew and that data became public domain, is not the provider's fault.

Eh? That’s not what is being said here. This post is just a gentle warning that unlike with other online services, when your account expires / is closed, your data remains. No-one is talking about private data going into the public domain.

Ben Poole, 2009-06-30

Brett, there is nothing beta about LotusLive. Or at least nothing that IBM would call beta. The trial is contractual, not technical.

Volker Weber, 2009-06-30

Volker (love your site and dry wit BTW) I did not mean to infer that LotusLive was beta. In the original post you said "my LotusLive trial". Whether contractual or technical, a trial is a trial is a trial.

Ben - I read this to mean that this is about data left on servers being searchable by a person who is not "logged-in" therefore publicly accessable, therefore "public domain". The concern about the data is the same whether it's private or test data. One would not be concerned about their data if it was all test values and fluffy bunny pictures, which is really what it should be in a "trial" usage scenario.

If one had bought and paid for a subscription, used it with real data, then let it lapse, and it became publicly accessible... THEN yes I'd be all kinds of pissed off and worried about the data. But otherwise in a trial... meh, it's trial data, no big deal if it goes public.

BTW I absolutely agree that all this T&C stuff should be made very much obvious at the moment of signing up for said trial. Just so one knows not to use private or sensitive information... lest it becomes stuff of youtube, facebook and myspace and returns to bite one on the behind. Also a notification of expiration of said trial should include the T&C's as well.

Brett Hershberger, 2009-06-30

This unfortunately, is the model Facebook is pushing on people. What does the EULA say about data posted?

Christopher Byrne, 2009-06-30

what i dont get is that names / company seems public

if bored and running top 50 last names thought the search shows customers and affinity , wouldnt IBM consider that confidential in most other cases.

is there a opt-out that can be selected ? or is this a 2.0 thingy i dont get

Flemming Riis, 2009-06-30

Brett, I think I will have to accept that you deem all data entered in a trial as fair game. But I will continue to respectfully disagree.

Volker Weber, 2009-06-30

Curious... did you attempt to contact anyone in regards to this, such as LotusLive Customer Support or anyone that works on the LotusLive team?

Chris Toohey, 2009-07-01

Hey, Chris, you are still alive. It's been more than four months. :-)

Volker Weber, 2009-07-01

I'll take that as a "no" then? Was honestly curious to see if LotusLive Customer Support was engaged at any point. And if it was, how responsive and cooperative they would be to the request to take down your information.

Chris Toohey, 2009-07-01

Chris, no, they were not. And I give them the benefit of the doubt, that they would be very responsive.

It does not really matter, whether my data is exposed by IBM. It is available here as well. What matters is that IBM does not take it down automatically. You cannot expect all former LotusLive users to hunt down every single piece of data that IBM has not taken down.

Also: if you conduct an experiment, you don't talk to the sample. You find a data point. You develop a theory. You measure more data. So, in this case: I am not the only one who's membership has expired. And they all have their data still up.

Volker Weber, 2009-07-01

Just searched for some random data. Try "Microsoft". Does IBM really want to keep all that junk data in their system?

Volker Weber, 2009-07-01

This again proves that you cannot make everybody happy. IBM seems to have listened and are removing data now. Chris didn't like that.

Jens Polster, 2009-08-11

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