HTML5 certainly takes persistent data storage to a new level, but as Jim Rapoza points out, this is not necessarily a new concern. Rapoza rightly states that there are already complexities related to cleaning out long-term web data storage. In fact, most web surfers probably have little idea how to thoroughly accomplish today, with existing web technologies.
Yet the privacy concerns go beyond HTML5's facilitation of long term data storage. As it sits today, the new standard also includes geo-location functionality (see demo here). In a related report by University of California at Berkley researchers Nick Doty, Deirdre K. Mulligan and Erik Wilde the group stated:
"The W3C’s Geolocation API may rapidly standardize the transmission of location information on the Web, but, in dealing with such sensitive information, it also raises serious privacy concerns."
The UC Berkley report relays survey findings which indicate that "location information
has been identified as the most sensitive element of information shared within social networks." The IETF additionally has a working group called GEOPRIV who's mission is to establish acceptable means of working with geo-location data. Among other things, the group's charter states:
"The GEOPRIV working group is chartered to continue to develop and
refine representations of location in Internet protocols, and to
analyze the authorization, integrity, and privacy requirements that
must be met when these representations of location are created,
stored, and used."
It seems the geo-location privacy conversation will remain an energetic space, which may affect the ultimate form and shape of the HTML5 spec.
Time-frame for HTML5’s Open Adoption
The W3C official says it will take years before HTML5 will finally be adopted. "We basically want to be feature-complete by mid-2011," Le Hegaret says. After this stage, the next steps will be a call for comments, a candidate recommendation stage, and then finally, the recommendation stage.
The HTML5 spec is expected to see final approval within two to three years. Until then, there is still much work that needs to be done. Le Hegaret acknowledges that HTML5 is still lacking in a lot of things. For example, the standard does not come with a video codec, and the W3C is not likely going to include one in the upcoming spec, possibly due to patent issues. Likewise, digital rights management is something that will be difficult to implement in an open standard.
Not (Yet) a Flash Killer
As it is, HTML 5 is already seeing an incredible amount of momentum, particularly when it comes to how big names like Google, Apple and Microsoft are adopting it. However, developers and users should not expect to see the demise of technologies like Flash anytime soon, although Le Hegaret adds that “[y]ou will see less and less websites using Flash” as HTML5 becomes the standard for website development.