Maybe it’s a game. A high-stakes game, with plenty to win or lose, depending on who you are, but a game nonetheless. After all, there are a variety of players but several categories stand out, along with their basic skills and inherent weaknesses. When it comes to the issue of privacy in the modern world, we can identify three major groups. There are individuals (and whatever associations they participate in), big hi-tech and media companies, and government.
Guess who the winners and loser are likely to be? As individuals, we can feel our vulnerability and lack of power. On rare occasions, larger groups can gather together and effect some sort of change on an issue. But, more often than not, the victory goes to those with the power, the money, the connections, the law (not always used properly). That means the government and its allies.
As you may guess, this plays out most especially in the online world. Privacy has become an issue with heightened focus on it of late, which means two things. People will complain about it, offer solutions, demand certain actions be taken by others, and so on. And, naturally, at some point that leads to government involvement.
Playing the Privacy Game
With so much at stake, the bigger players have great incentive to do what it takes to protect their turf, their revenue, their dominance. One instrument in their toolkit is the PR machine. Public relations can be powerful in how both corporations and media wield it. The right story, told the right way, can be priceless.
Take privacy. Plenty of companies do – take yours that is. They will deny it, or if unavoidable will offer some sort of mea culpa with a promise to do better. But, the beat goes on. Nothing really changes in essence. It can’t. There is too much value in the data they scoop up in a continuous stream of posts, pics and tweets.
So, they play the game. When required, companies will appear to be genuinely concerned about privacy for customers, website visitors, etc. And, to some extent, there may be some validity to that. But, we cannot, we must not, disregard the inescapable fact of their bottom line. When these companies are making not just millions but billions of dollars, how could we expect otherwise?When it comes to the issue of privacy in the modern world, we can identify three major groups. There are individuals (and whatever associations they participate in), big hi-tech and media companies, and government. Click To Tweet
Mining the Digital Footprint
Pick any of the top players online and you will see much the same thing. Facebook is one obvious example with their own problems but Google is of particular note. For one thing, they have been around longer than most of the other companies who profit mostly from online data. They have also continued to expand their domain with multiple products. They may occupy different business sectors but at least one single strand connects them all: customer data.
In a recent New York Times op-ed, chief executive Sundar Pichai wrote, “We feel privileged that billions of people trust products like Search, Chrome, Maps, and Android to help them every day.” Well sure, there is no denying the huge volume of consumers that use these services. But, to categorically say they “trust” Google may be a bit of a stretch.
For one thing, not enough people stop to think seriously enough about their digital footprint and how that affects their privacy. For another, to one degree or another, a fairly monopolistic environment may make the issue of trust somewhat moot. Op-eds and other PR efforts may be effective but that doesn’t mean they are honest.
Smokescreen of Surveillance
“This is a smokescreen to satisfy regulators and pacify consumers while continuing their data exploitation activities. While some of the changes they have made are positive, they have no intention to give up their lucrative business model of ads powered by surveillance, which is fundamentally at odds with privacy…
“Privacy, like freedom and democracy, are fundamentally about the same thing: choice. And we must not let ubiquitous tech giants like Google and Facebook tinker dangerously with the very concept of ‘privacy.’ Privacy is not the ability to turn off the listening device in your bedroom, trusting there isn’t another one hidden in the wall. Real privacy is choosing who enters your home in the first place.”
Read more at Don’t be fooled by Google’s fake privacy.