Proof That People Care About Privacy
One of my favorite sources for news on the internet is Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com). I check it regularly to see what the “techie” community thinks are the most important news stories and topics of the day.
Today when I checked it I noticed how many of the top stories had to do with privacy. Four of the top five stories were about privacy issues with some of the largest tech companies.
- Brave Uncovers Google’s GDPR Workaround
- Google, YouTube to Pay $170M Penalty over Collecting Kids’ Personal Info
- Mental-health Information ‘Sold to Advertisers’
- Warning: Implicit Backdoor
Companies Invading Consumer Privacy Is Old News
There has been news about companies using the internet to collect large amounts of user data for over a decade. There are entire online communities dedicated to privacy (like reddit.com/r/privacy), which have seen continued growth over the past few years. These people have moved away from Google and Facebook to privacy-focused alternatives.
Data breaches and privacy issues have flooded the news for long enough that it’s no longer surprising when new stories come out. It’s an unfortunate reality that consumers expect that the tools they use will fail to respect their privacy.
Why Does Big Tech Keep Ignoring Privacy Laws?
There are stories seemingly every week about Facebook, Google, Amazon and other giant companies like these dropping the ball when it comes to privacy and securing people’s private information.
I think that tech companies simply have too much to gain from collecting “too much data”, that paying fines and losing a small percentage of their users is worth it. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, made $32.6 billion in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018. If they can make it through a year and only face a few fines of a couple hundred million, the company is basically unaffected.
Collecting this data now, when the punishments are minor and the data is available, is essentially an investment for Google. Google is building AI systems that rely on data to “learn”. The more data they collect (even illegally) the better their systems will be, and the more people will stick around to use them.
People Aren’t Leaving After A Company Violates Privacy Regulations
There have been hundreds of mainstream news stories involving hacks and data breaches into the most powerful companies in the world. Even so, these companies maintain their massive user bases of billions of people.
If the first time news came out that Facebook wasn’t complying with its privacy claims and the company lost half of its users, tech companies would undoubtedly clean up their act.
Read More: 8 Ways to Protect Your Digital Privacy