TechCrunch was right: Tech Apologies are Hollow
Americans are becoming increasingly aware of data privacy issues and the risks inherent in trusting giant tech companies to protect users’ personal information. In fact, more Americans want companies to address data privacy than job creation, according to a consumer survey released earlier this month.
It’s clear that people today are seeking more reassurance about who has access to their data, how that data is being used, and what companies are actively doing to protect their personal information. Unfortunately, this coveted information is often not readily available.
A recent TechCrunch article by Josh Constine describes how the apologies we get from major cloud companies – about data breaches, manipulation of users based on personal data, monetization of private information, etc. – are hollow and empty for the most part. Rather than implementing real systemic changes to policy, companies seem to be more interested in suppressing bad PR and pacifying angry consumers.
Take Facebook, for example: CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other higher-ups in the company have issued apology after apology over the years, citing the many instances in which Facebook policies and/or lapses in judgment have led to real harm for users.
One especially egregious example is when the company conducted a secret psychological experiment on 700,000 users, in an attempt to measure how the curation of posts in individual news feeds could manipulate users’ emotions. The fact that a social media behemoth would do such a thing without explicit permission from users is unthinkable – and makes us wonder just what else is being done with users’ data without any sort of disclosure.
Even as Facebook promises more transparency and improved privacy controls, it seems like the same mistakes are being made over and over again. The company continues to face widespread criticism in the wake of its actions during the 2016 U.S. election and amid revelations about just how much personal data has been accessed by unauthorized third parties like Cambridge Analytica.
But these data privacy and transparency issues go far beyond just Facebook. Not only have tech giants Google and Amazon come under fire for data breaches, security lapses, and deceptive tactics regarding user data, but even credit reporting agency Equifax infamously suffered a catastrophic breach of 148 million Americans’ private information in 2017. This breach was purely due to lax security practices within the company. And yet, a year later, the U.S. General Accounting Office has released a report revealing that “almost nothing of substance has changed” in the credit-reporting industry.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is sounding the alarm as well. In a recent speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, he denounced the emergence of today’s “data-industrial complex” and emphasized that privacy is a “fundamental human right.” But with major companies undermining our expectations, issuing empty promises after public fiascos, and neglecting to implement real change, where do we go from here?
According to Constine, regulators are often not effective or fast enough in addressing systemic privacy issues, and we clearly cannot rely on tech giants to improve on their own. What’s more, our loyalty as consumers to the services and platforms we use every day hampers our ability to leverage meaningful change.
On an individual level, there are some questions we should be asking ourselves:
- How much personal information am I giving up to companies, and how are they using it?
- In the wake of privacy scandals and data breaches, what changes do I want companies to make?
- How can I keep my personal data truly secure and truly private?
At LatticeWork, we strongly believe in your fundamental right to privacy. Storage pioneer Dr. Pantas Sutardja founded LatticeWork to simultaneously address the growing need for consumer storage and bandwidth use as well as the public’s increasing desire for groundbreaking levels of digital data privacy and security.
With Amber, you can enjoy the benefits of a personal hybrid cloud in the privacy of your own home, with the first all-in-one smart storage platform. It’s essentially your own mini datacenter with full encryption that doesn’t rely on any third-party public clouds, so you’re never giving up your personal data to companies who thrive on selling your data – not protecting it. You’ll also never have to sacrifice privacy for convenience – again. When you store your digital life in Amber, your data is yours and yours alone – always accessible and always protected.
Unlike many other companies, our business model is predicated on maintaining absolute privacy and security for our customers. We’re committed to providing a user experience like no other, and feel that we are one of those “principled alternatives” that consumers can switch to, as Josh Constine puts it.