“Privacy is back, not just as social norm, but as a business model.”-was the quote that got my attention in a Slate article from last week. The piece was centered on the implications of Mark Zuckerberg’s sudden change of attitude from: “Privacy is no longer a social norm”, just a few years ago to today’s attempts to win more users over, through adding extra features that guarantee more confidentiality and changing the default settings.
Needless to say that working for CyberGhost and being a sucker for privacy, I instantly started to look into the subject. It didn’t take long to come up with a list of recent startups whose sole business was either anonymizing their users, or securing their data. Companies like Duck Duck Go, Abine, Signal, Secret, Whisper and Snapchat are surprisingly popular among teenagers.
If the last decade was all about transparency, doing things and letting the whole world know about them, creating a strong online presence, and shouting your feelings out loud until the point of complete vulnerability, the present is certainly focused on the idea of keeping most of the things to yourself and having full control over what you share with the rest of the world.
It seems that the overenthusiastic, somewhat naive and undiscerning public which populated the internet at the beginnings of social media has slowly matured and realized the implications and perils of inviting strangers into their lives by oversharing, or overlooking their security settings.
While European startups and companies seem to have figured out this a while ago, American ones are just catching up under a less than favorable legislation. There is not much they can do regarding the NSA surveillance and keeping their users anonymous will only lead to them drowning into a sea of DMCA requests.
And this is one of the reasons why we here at CyberGhost believe the future of privacy lies in Europe, where it can be fully guaranteed under a favorable, protecting legislation.
While we are happy that privacy became “the thing”, it is quite worrying that a lot of these organizations that claim to offer users anonymity don’t fully understand the concept and don’t have the means to do this, thus creating a false sense of security for the user, which can at times be more harmful than no protection at all.
As for Facebook and other companies which just woke up one day loving privacy more than anything else, it is often said that the best indicator for somebody’s future behavior is their past behavior.