I recently had a discussion with a group of IT friends that got quite heated. As it turns out data privacy can be quite an explosive topic. We each had our own lines in the sand when it came to who, what, when and why we share our data which is perfectly normal. Where it got heated is when the conversation got all “judgy”. The comment that started the data warfare discussion was “using that app is incredibly irresponsible, you’re in IT you should know better”. Obviously that’s a very strong statement and it’s an opinion and … and … and well that’s how arguments start. However, it did raise some interesting points.
Facebook has had quite a few very high profile, very public data privacy issues, from vanilla data breaches to voting fraud and government manipulation, yet user retention during each event shows a small blip for a ridiculously small time. British Airways has also had some public outings regarding data breaches and I don’t know of anyone that wouldn’t fly BA because of it.
So what does it take for us to walk away? Is it even going to be our decision anymore or are we going to see more governments intervening and taking the decision away from us?
This month the US government banned TikTok and WeChat due to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) national threat. The national threat being the US’s arch-enemy China, having enormous amounts of data supplied each and every day by US citizens that can be used for nefarious reasons. From tracking government officials, blackmailing, corporate espionage, personal profiling to voting fraud and government manipulation.
I don’t see banning apps being the solution, mostly because it’s surely going to become a never-ending game of whack-a-mole with another TikTok popping up somewhere else. But also, if you were paying attention you can see a pattern from above, TikTok is being banned for the same reasons that have already occurred at Facebook. And as far as I am aware the US government is not banning Facebook.
Does that mean we have all seen through the US’s thin political veil and decided it’s a political game and happily continues to use TikTok? Or is it that we don’t think the personal data we are giving away is that important?
So then the question we are left with is, what does it take for us to leave an app?
I think it’s going to be personal, we can be compelled, educated, threatened to do the right thing but just as we’ve seen with the massive anti-mask movement, people will think, say and do what they want until one of two things happens; the Government steps in or we, or maybe a very close friend or family member, are irrefutably, inexplicably, or financially affected by a breach of an app. Until then, if the app offers convenience, social connection, income, or all the above its stays firmly installed.
Laughably, the person who made the irresponsible comment was also the person who didn’t see the need for Data Discovery software until yesterday when a user stole information they shouldn’t have had access to…how irresponsible!