Opposed as I am to -1 corporation to rule them all, 1 corporation to bind me –(apologies to the late Mr. Tolkien), somehow it seems I’m willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience. I’ve warned students & clients of Applied Research ‘Sirens‘ – a term I use for topics where Research respondents are more likely to lead us astray, intentionally or not.
One ‘Overstatement’ Siren is driven by guilt that drives us to overstate out intent to ‘be responsible’ -eg I may overstate my intent that in future I’ll (mos def!) safeguard my data & enforce my privacy rights.
That intent will, sadly, conflict with an opposing ‘Understatement’ Siren– the temptation of …. convenience! Why do you spend $1.69 for 1 pack of gum or 1 chocolate bar at a Food store checkout, if a pack of such items just 50 feet away in the candy aisle, is priced at 4 for $3? Convenience! Why pay $75 for someone to wash your windows if all it takes is 1 hour work and $2 of cleaning supplies? Convenience! Consumer are rarely honest in advance about how they will succumb to the Siren of Convenience.
A couple days ago, I gave in – and let a Cupertino CA firm to hold sway over ever more of me. They had my hardware purchase (an iPhone), software purchase (i-everything). They have the perfect Trifecta– I now pay them to own my data! And presumably, according to the contract, allow them to do with my data pretty much whatever they wish. It’s merely more convenient for me to leave 1 ecosystem in charge. The advantages of integration seemed, in the moment, to outweigh the drawbacks of lost control and privacy.
Many of us see California at a dualistic forefront of tech jobs + privacy legislation. This won’t be the last time we see such an issue contested in court!
Important principles are at stake. I expect more deep-pocketed, highly resolved litigants will again challenge social media data gathering & data sharing practices. As someone who once worked where consumer data was gathered & sold, I think it’s fair to say that…. ethical & legal practice constraints are sometimes at odds with more practical, material temptations. So let’s all watch these battles with interest- and caution.
Fine BBC article below on chat apps’ location and pic-sharing services. That alone wouldn’t be so awkward- or risky. But add Minors to the equation and…. it seems a risky scenario that might be exploited by the wrong kinds of people. Will have to see whether more realistic security limits are built than the standard “Are you an adult?” or “Birth date” disclaimers that are so routinely ‘played’ by kids everywhere.
Shall we expect more regulations? Or self-imposed industry guidelines? In fast evolving categories, it’s tough for Executives to take time from day-to-day duties for long term ‘macro’ issues. Perhaps doubly difficult to see the value of investing time in an industry forum where competitors face up to shared concerns that need attention. But there are strategic advantages to aggressive early self-regulating, versus awaiting the day when bureaucrats jump on this with blanket-style prohibitions that buy votes by pandering to public opinion, when the first (inevitable) tragic ‘Minor harmed’ news story breaks.
Ontario Hospital workers face ‘stiffer’** penalties for again spilling patient information; they sold New Mom’s hospital records to a firm pitching Registered Education Savings Plans (an iffy ‘savings’ vehicle at best of times, given how the tax system treats them and the ‘varied’ morals of firms pitching them). Prosecuted in Ontario- penalties included house arrest, community service, probation, fines.
Questionable data ‘security’ practises at Ashley Madison’: eg iffy accuracy of security logos shown, iffy data security precautions, holding onto ‘unsubscribed’ member data, apparently to leverage further fees for the privilege of leaving this dubious service. Prosecuted in USA- final penalties TBD.
In both cases, customer data was easily compromised. This is the second recent breach by Ontario Hospitals staffers, raising questions whether adequate penalties exist for those with the privilege & burden to hold customer data. Canada is home to global telemarketing firms, online gambling sites, weight loss & nutraceutical sellers who play fast & loose with claim substantiation, charities that enrich the charity’s administrators. Many firms locate here due to weak investigation staffing and weak penalties for those who are caught. When was the last time White Collar crime in Canada resulted in actual jail time?
**Ontario’s government recently signaled more support to the Ontario Security Commission, more teeth to prosecute breaches & enforce data privacy. Justice Caldwell’s penalties in this case are less wimpy than what has sadly become the norm here (eg just fines, for the Rob Ford case). Stronger signals indeed, but more is needed! (perhaps stiffer federal standards, Mr Prime Minister?).
Despite Canada’s reputation as an ‘equal’ society, folks committing ‘white collar’ crime rarely face a weighty deterrent. Some Canuck fraudsters (a certain newspaper mogul?) are prosecuted only after their crime affects American victims. On behalf of customers whose data is ‘out there’ in trust, Thanks to the USA for having the guts & the will to give teeth to white collar standards of conduct. The USA is hampered by some frivolous 1 on 1 litigation & class action suits, but they don’t shield ‘upper class’ criminals from jail. America knows ‘nonviolent’ crime does harm individuals and undermine trust in customer-based organizations.