Dirk Knemeyer

The future of online privacy

The future of online privacy, January 25, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Google and Mozilla, the makers of Chrome and Firefox respectively, announced this week they are adding the ability to block tracking for users of their browsers. Now, Microsoft has previously made this privacy feature available , then removed it due to advertiser complaints, before returning it again to their Explorer product. And that is the bugaboo right at the heart of this issue: the advertisers. Their money is what makes the internet go round. So when they let out a rebel yell about losing access to our data and behavior the tech giants typically listen. That is where the battle for privacy will be felt, at the bottom line. My prediction is that near total privacy, at least as an option, will become ubiquitous on its own, or by corporate if not government mandate. Then, the for-profit companies will incentivize us to give that privacy away using money, bonuses, benefits or other enticements, they will get us to opt into non-privacy out of our own perceived self-interest. In some ways that will be worse than what we have now. As with things like cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption, we will be saying yes to things that put us at risk, yet will claim near-zero personal culpability when our identity is stolen or embarrassing information is released or we are otherwise compromised. Now, at least, we can legitimately chastise Facebook or Google treat our private information like disposable wipes. However, once there is clear distinction where opting in in a more explicit, informed way it becomes more difficult to paint the corporation as a villain with any degree of credibility. So, let’s just say I am increasingly optimistic about having more control of my own personal, but think many consumers will make ignorant decisions despite giant warning labels about their own.