There is a gathering storm in the digital world. It’s been around for a while, getting ever more squally but this week it seems to be gathering an increasing momentum. That storm’s name is PRIVACY.
As the working week ended Google confessed (like it always does) that it had been logging the browsing history of every unsecured wi-fi network as its Google Street View Cars have been running up and down our streets. Facebook are facing renewed accusations of sharing data and making privacy changes which their users are unable to follow.
They hope that we are becoming sanguine about this behaviour. That we shrug our shoulders and move on to the next topic. The only problem for the likes of Google and Facebook is that we are not. Sometimes it’s worth drawing a more physical world comparison of their actions to see how acceptable it is. Imagine being out in a bar and having a complete stranger open your bag, rifle through the contents, hold them up for everyone to see, sell the information to a man standing outside the bar, go through your credit cards, check your receipts for key purchases….and on and on and on.
Yes, digitally that sort of analysis can be enormously efficient and helpful to us as consumers. It’s great being served up items and opportunities which are of interest to you but we need to know the following;
(1) What information are you taking from me ?
(2) Why do you want it ?
(3) What are the benefits to me of you doing this ?
(4) How do I stop it happening ?
All of this should be declared upfront. Clear and transparent. Not retrospectively with an apology along the lines of ‘Oh sorry we didn’t know we were doing this ?’
The consequences of not doing this will become all too clear to the likes of Facebook. Just as quickly as you grew you will be brought to your knees.