Written By: Jeff Kagan
Google Home GOOGL[NGS]
is finally admitting they have been invading our personal privacy by secretly listening in on private conversations of their users. Facebook FB[NGS]
was just fined $5 billion by the FTC for their privacy invasion problem. I’ve been raising the red flag on these problems for years. Do you get it? We have lost our personal privacy, and it is only getting worse, not better.So, who else is invading our privacy? Well, there are plenty of other companies and technologies using AI like Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung Bixby and more. In fact, this invasion of privacy goes beyond to include other things we use every day like navigation or GPS devices on your car or on your smartphone, your smartphone itself, your Internet connected fridge and so much more.
Facebook fined $5 billion by FTC for privacy invasion
So, this privacy problem is only getting worse with personal technology, social networks and every corner of our lives.Like everything else, tracking our privacy is a double-edged sword. Granted, there are real benefits like being able to find your way around town using navigation or being found in case you drive off the road and get stuck somewhere.These benefits are what has been talked about and promoted since this technology started popping up on the radar many years ago. These benefits are real, and they are valuable.However, they are just one side of the coin. The other side is, in order to do what they promise, they must also invade our privacy. And the problem is, this has not been disclosed. So now, it gives the impression that this is something which has been hidden from us.This is damaging to the company image and trust-ability. That perception is harming the brand
of all these companies and technologies.Whether this was hidden by design or by default, the problem is that the public didn’t know about what they were losing by using this new technology. Now that we are just starting to learn, the public is unhappy.Perhaps now that light is shining on this issue, something can be done to educate and protect unsuspecting users.
Benefits and drawbacks to privacy invasion
Maybe, going forward we can discuss both sides of this double-edged sword, and let the user know what they are getting and at what cost. Give them the chance to opt in if they want these benefits and their privacy exposed.However, now that we are starting to understand, companies should not be allowed to simply take and use our information without permission.There is a real benefit to this technology which uses our personal and private information. So, many users will likely opt in.However, many others simply do not want their lives exposed. Many users have personal issues they are dealing with that they don’t want the world to know about.To date, the needs and rights of users have been ignored, and that is simply wrong.
Incrementalism works better than rushing in
The truth is, going forward, over time we may have no privacy. That’s simply the way technology is advancing. When talking with people in their 20s, they don’t seem to care. That’s bad enough.However, quickly shifting like we have been doing is simply and clearly wrong. It is a violation of what many consider to be their own personal property, their privacy. And that’s where the pushback comes from.There is a story that my father taught me many years ago. If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will immediately hop out. But if you put it into a pot of warm water and turn the heat up, bit by bit, he will stay put and eventually boil to death. If tech companies want to change the world
, they should follow this model. Incrementalism is the only way that works. The rapid way they have been doing things is that they have violated the trust users gave them.That means they have ultimately damaged their own brand value and their ability to grow.
Have patience, social and technological change takes time
I don’t like giving up my personal privacy any more than anyone else. I often wonder how important the benefits are if we have to give up our privacy. The price seems very high indeed.However, I also see how we have been on this ride for decades already, and with AI and new technology, we are continuing down this same path.There is a natural timing path to change, and one key point is change takes time. Rushing change only causes friction that is not helpful to our society. That is where we see many of the fights in our lives originate.If we take it slowly, change can happen without the multibillion-dollar fines and major hits on the brands that have been built over the last decade or two with social networks, search engines, AI and all the other amazing technology that benefits all of us.So, incrementalism, patience, open dialog and persistence will eventually drive change without all the hysterics, one step at a time.