When I was a teenager, this was a typical conversation in my house:
"Where are you going?"
"When will you be back?"
This snippet demonstrates two facts:
- 1. Teenagers are ingrates with terrible manners.
- 2. Privacy is a fundamental need for humankind.
The procurement of car keys probably escalated my degree of freedom and happiness, and increased my parents' degree of concern and insurance bills. Another couple decades of living may have improved my manners but they haven't changed my love of autonomous, anonymous rights to explore the world on my own terms. What I see and do, where I go and when, what I buy, that is my business and mine alone. What I share about it, with whom, in what media, that should also be my choice, and mine alone.
That choice is almost completely gone now. If privacy had a doomsday clock, then it's 11:59 and the bell tolls for your right to have any control over pervasive surveillance. Note that this isn't about cybersecurity, though of course that's essential. Authentication, encryption, masking, auditing; these are all good tools to combat data breaches. I see many big data vendors building this functionality for sensitive or personally identifiable information (PII), and I applaud them for doing the right thing here.
Yet almost no one is championing the cause of privacy for the individual. They may be protecting my data from others, but who is protecting my data from them? No one. The only goal is too exploit my information to maximum advantage. Big data vendors have built the economic nuclear warhead to destroy privacy globally, and businesses love them for the help.
No big data technology vendor seems to be building tools to protect the user, only to aid the exploits of the business, as their direct customers. This has got to change immediately. We need a new form of business ethics to protect the individual. You. Me. Everybody.
Technology vendors should build good controls. Businesses should shape good policy. Consumers should vote with their wallets and reward good behavior. Google was on the right track with their early slogan of “don’t be evil”, let’s expand and reinforce that concept. I for one would pay just a little more to be anonymous, and preserve my privacy a little longer.