Privacy update – it’s Mission Impossible (and as dangerous)

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We had a feeling that the whole Facebook/Cambridge Analytica fiasco would have an impact on people’s view on privacy. And we were right.

‘Privacy first’ company FigLeaf (produces a privacy dashboard) has been doing some research.

Interestingly the company’s first survey into views on privacy was conducted just before the Cambridge Analytica scandal. At that point, 39% of respondents (mainly US, Europe but including Australia) believed that online privacy was not possible.

Since the scandal that number has increased to 68% which basically shows that now the majority of people do not believe that privacy is possible.

People are doing something about it, too. 82% of US respondents (75% for the UK) are changing their behaviour online and three quarters of people are sharing less information online as a result.

What is interesting is that before the crisis most people thought it should be down to Governments to be responsible for users’ privacy but now the vast majority believe it is the responsibility of companies to be accountable for their customers’ privacy. As Tim Cook says, tech companies need to take responsibility for the ‘chaos’ they have created.

Houston, we have a problem.

These surveys, conducted either side of a trigger event, show very clearly that the ‘free for all’ with people’s data is over. This, on one hand, is a shame, because if companies had done it right, people would end up with what they once dreamed of – intuitive, relevant, actionable information at their finger-tips.

Instead, we are faced with a situation that will force the internet itself into a fragmented mess, where some parts of it will be free, others will charge, others will be censored and controlled.

There will be victims.

The advertising industry, already deserving of a kick for not keeping up, will suffer. The giant tech companies will suffer as more and more users will opt to block adverts, knowing (or more accurately not knowing) what their data will be used for.

The trust will be further eroded by the fire hoses of rubbish that spew forth from social media platforms.

What the internet will look like in 10 years time is something we can only guess at.

What is true is that it will not look anything like it does now.

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