Privacy as a premium: Why it’s time to say goodbye to the free internet
The concept of privacy changed once it went online. What was once a sacred tomb of personal information has been twisted and altered by the digital age, like so many analog and now antiquated concepts before it.
Privacy is now something that is not only taken for granted, but no longer held to any regard. Yet, online privacy is not something that is so much as taken from us but is what we’ve elect to give away.
There is a major shift on the horizon though; as users are starting to realize the consequences of freely giving their right to privacy. While we all seem to fear the NSA spying on us (a reasonable, albeit semantically ridiculous fear, as if the government has the proper staffing for that endeavor), we don’t seem to fear the general loss of identity as we give ourselves away piece by piece.
As we fall into the nothingness of complete transparency, we are starting to see movements that seek to reclaim this loss of privacy.
The trend toward control
Even Mark Zuckerberg has changed his tune. Once calling privacy on the internet “no longer a social norm,” the Facebook mogul pointed out (on a conference call to investors) that privacy would be key to the company’s growth.
This change in thinking was apparent with Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, to directly compete with another generally private sharing app, Snapchat.
Users are tired of seeing themselves hacked and exposed on the internet, and want to keep the curtain drawn. The aforementioned apps fit this inevitable realization about what privacy means.
Most recently, Facebook was under criticism again, this time for the automatic upload of private photos. Frustrated users are ready to start paying for the privacy they could or should have maintained in the first place.
Does privacy come at a premium?
“In a certain sense, you can say that the industry of paying for internet privacy is already here,” says David Bakke of Money Crashers. Apps like Confide and Wickrprovide private messaging, yet are looking at pay plans for upper tier services. Users are looking at ways to quietly and privately communicate online.
“As companies begin to or continue to collect more information about us and our browsing preferences and so forth, I think you’ll see a growing number of businesses either offering new ways to communicate and surf the Internet in a secure fashion, or featuring ways to pay to eliminate such intrusions on our privacy,” Bakke continues. “And I think you’ll see more and more internet users willing to pay for such services.”
That willingness is growing with every instance of our online privacy being abused. At least, the perception of abuse. Both Facebook and OKCupid have run recent social experiments on their user base, creating animosity and frustration. However, there is an old adage that applies here: if you don’t pay for the product — it means you are the product.
Our recent concerns with online privacy were only heightened when we first heard the name Edward Snowden. The fallout from his brand of spying when it came to technology used for internet interactions was broad and irrational.
In The Edward Snowden Affair: Exposing the Politics and Media Behind the NSA Scandal, author Micheal Gurnow wrote about a momentary exodus from public browsing software, especially when it came to the threat of government intrusion.
Of all of the responses to the Snowden affair by the American public, the most interesting and distinctive was its approach to technology. People quickly set to slaying the 21st-century Argus, the all-seeing Greek god with 100 eyes for which the panopticon was named. Many fled from the US government’s “architecture of oppression,” starting with the companies and products named in the disclosures. Google was replaced by search engines which allow users to surf the Internet anonymously.
Likewise, Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer were traded for proxy browsers… Some found smartphone camera apps which do not log a picture’s GPS. Many reluctantly gave up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. The truly worried encrypted their home computers.
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