Why Have We Decided To Trust “Big Tech”?

Privacy advocates have become more concerned with how “big tech” companies (i.e. Google, Facebook and Amazon) gather and use data from people using their products. However, these companies have maintained their massive user bases and have mostly continued their concerning data practices.

Trusting Big Data Companies Is Risky

Companies that rely on big data to make money need to do so to make their business models work. They will not willingly decide to stop collecting information about people, because the more data they have, the more money they can make. The reason many people are open to trusting these companies is because millions (or billions) of other people have as well. The scale of these platforms doesn’t indicate that they are trustworthy. Instead, it means that the consequences of a breach or hack are the most serious.

There are privacy-friendly alternative products to almost any online service. These tools have privacy built into their functionality and won’t require you to trust them with your data (because they don’t collect any).

The Opportunity For Companies That Take Privacy Seriously

If the companies that take advantage of their users’ inaction on protecting their data continue to recklessly abuse that power, at some point these companies will face the consequences. All it takes is one data breach that impacts people’s lives to drive them to an alternative service that prioritizes privacy and gives people control of their personal information.

Facebook‘s many privacy-issues and data breaches have brought on the emergence of “privacy-friendly” social networks like Mastodon and Diaspora. While these platforms are barely a blip on Facebook’s radar, their user bases of more than a million users each show that there are some people who are willing to go elsewhere for a social network that doesn’t track every bit of their information.

Google uncovered a security vulnerability in 2018 which exposed private information of more than 500,000 Google Plus users. Then, later in 2018, Google announced another bug in Google Plus which exposed user data from 52.5 million accounts. Google Plus has since been discontinued but, Google maintains a full range of products, some with billions of users. Many people are concerned with Google’s data collection, because of how complete and in-depth it is. Google announced a change to its privacy policy in 2012 which said that Google would now connect people’s activity on all of its products, instead of keeping that information isolated. This policy change was a catalyst for private search engines like Search Encrypt, DuckDuckGo, and StartPage.

Other privacy tools like VPNs and private email services have also seen growth in response to more mainstream discussion of privacy. Companies like these are already seeing growth and look forward to data breaches or hacks involving major companies to spike their user numbers and name recognition.