Categories AIamazonandroidApp StoreAppleAppsGadgetGoogleInformationInnovationiOSiPadiPhoneMacMobileSmart homeSmartphoneTechTrend

The End of Privacy Era

If you stay with current tech news, you would know that GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is going to become effective in a couple of days. Even if you don’t, you should be receiving so many emails about revised privacy policies from so many different service providers (free and paid services). It looks like a great news for consumers since, apparently, the GDPR was created to protect consumers’ private information online from all those big tech giants especially from free services such as Facebook, Twitter, Google… etc. Well, we should say that it’s free from surface because we are trading our data for those free services from the very beginning. If you ever paid attentions to the terms of use from Google Drive, Gmail, or Google Photos, you know that, to a degree, Google owns our data. They can do all sorts of crazy things if they are on the evil side. Luckily that they seem to be still on the angel land instead of going dark (we never know what will happen or what might already be on the way underneath the hood though).

 

Power of Free

On the business model side, all businesses are the same

If you think that dotcom is a myth (meaning that Internet companies are totally different species), you are wrong. The only difference is the number of customers/users they can reach is just humongously unheard of. On the business model side, all businesses are the same. In the infant stage, businesses use free services to acquire users. After they have enough user base, they usually are able to figure out how to run their businesses sustainably. The Internet era follows the exact same pattern but they have much more leverage on offering “FREE” service end of the spectrum. The reason is that if you are running an Internet service, the cost of serving 1000 customers (connections/data) isn’t that much different than the cost of serving only 1 user. Of course, the server cost will be a big dollar sign if your user base reaches a certain level. But if that’s the case, it also means that you should have ample amount of cash from all types of fundings in your bank account already.

Most of the Internet services are novel services when they first appear. The best way of acquiring users is handing out of samples – A.K.A “FREE service”

Most of the Internet services are novel services when they first appear. The best way of acquiring users is handing out of samples. In this case, it’s the free service. It turned out that free services, in fact, is a great business model to have for all the Internet companies. In order to use free service, we are willing to hand our personal data to those platforms. Those service providers then turning our personal information into a great advertising end points and opening up to advertisers to exchange for profits (huge profits by the way). Truth to be told that the reason why Facebook doesn’t charge you is because you are worth more if you remain a free user of Facebook than if they charge you a subscription fee (really… how much will you be willing to pay for a monthly access to the Facebook?)

The reason why Facebook doesn’t charge you is because you are worth more if you remain a free user of Facebook

Internet Became Mainstream

From the outset to mature stage, it took less than 2 decades for the Internet to reach to almost every corner of the planet of earth. If you are over 40 year old, you might still remember the old days when you need to do some research for your school works you usually buried yourself in the library for days. Nowadays, doing research is equivalent to “googling” for majority of consumers. The Internet not only created new businesses but also changed our way of living in so many fronts. For instance, consumers don’t need to spend a fortune on communications anymore. Everything can be digital is being transformed to be digital if not already.

 

The Internet not only created new businesses but also changed our way of living in so many fronts.

 

Note:

The Internet reaches 81%+ of the population in the developed world based on the data from Wikipedia.

 

Smartphone took the helm

iPhone” changes everything.

The birth of the smartphone changed everything. We want to clarify that “iPhone” changes everything. Why? Because there were already a handful of Internet accessible handheld devices prior to the iPhone (most of them were called PDA – Personal Digital Assistant). Yes, they were capable of accessing data via the mobile network then and they were able to process some complex operations (of course, those so called complex operations couldn’t be compared with today’s complex tasks on our smartphones due to the data speed and hardware advancements). However, the matter of the fact was that those Internet accessible handheld devices couldn’t penetrate into the mainstream segment despite incline of the price due to the hardware technology evolution (improvement)… they just couldn’t become mainstream… UNTIL… Steve Jobs decided to crack the code of this field.

The secret codes that Steve Jobs cracked was that he made the Internet accessible device personal. It’s not a device to consumers anymore. It’s a toy. It’s a treat. It’s not just one thing but a different beautifully designed toys carefully and elegantly put together for us to be able to get so many necessary jobs done beautifully and elegantly. Those jobs and tasks were/are the things we needed/need (or wanted/want) to get them done (e.g., listening to thousands of songs without carrying a big box of collections, reading thousands of books without carrying even one book with us, getting information from any website wherever we are (and whenever) without bringing a bulky computer with us, and… well… you can make a call and … if the calls are through the data package … it’s free).

iPhone is a revolutionized innovation

The iPhone changed everything and pushed the innovation on the dotcome front even further (and faster) than ever before. It’s not just a evolution… it’s a revolutionized innovation. If you asked anyone prior to the iPhone era that can they imagine a world without a desktop or laptop with them for work or for school works? The answer would be a definite big fat “NO”. However, if you place the same question to a high school kid or even a college kid today, he/she will tell you that… he/she doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer/desktop if his/her major isn’t in engineering, computer science, or design (those majors usually need to have powerful machines to assist students get jobs done).

 

IoT (Internet of Things) Turned Everything Upside Down

IoT isn’t a new concept but an idea turned a reality after the prerequisite accessing points are being well placed everywhere. What the hack are we talking about? We are talking about the Internet and the smartphones. It’s obvious that the Internet is the soul of the IoT. Without the Internet, there is no channels for those automations to happen. However, if there were no smartphones, IoT would have never happened as well. Why? It’s like the iPhone did to the mainstream. The smartphone gives a stage for IoT to show consumers how smart devices can do to our daily lives. The very basic and the very first pioneer, smart lights, was implemented and displayed via smartphones. At the time, there were no “Alexa” or “OK, Google” to bridge in between smart appliances and consumers. The smartphones showed us what is possible and what will be possible for us to expect.

In order to serve consumers well and push the front, smart devices are the data collecting points for all service providers.

It’s a great ride and, like any other things in life, when there are ups, there are downs. Yes, IoT has greatly improved the quality (and easiness) of our lives; however, it also planted a huge mine for years to come. In order to serve consumers well and push the front, smart devices are the data collecting points for all service providers. For instance, Amazon echo devices and Google Home devices are collecting everything we say in order to recognize the keyword and commands to help us better streamlining our lives. Therefore, there is a huge risk under this sort of inventions. Although both companies mentioned that they only listen to what we want them to listen. Meaning that they only store those commands we intended to interact with their devices on their server. But there have been cases that, due to software bugs or hardware malfunctions, IoT devices accidentally listens and store everything we said directly right onto their servers. All the conversations (private and public) were all being transferred to a server farm and being processed for the later use. Well… that’s what big data for, isn’t’ it?

 

Private Information is Just a Term

At this day and age, the term “private” is just a relative soothing explanation for people who still don’t want to admit that there is nothing private in the Internet era anymore. Sure, you can say to yourself that your social security number is being well protected and it’s private that no one can find out in any ways unless you tell them. Well, if you are a true believer of that, you are in a total denial of facing the new Internet era. The true factor is that with a little bit efforts and a little bit help of technology, your social security number, your phone number, and your home address aren’t that hard to be found. Also, your relationship, your likings, and places you often go are all logged online. You, as a person, really have no privacy at all unless you entirely isolate yourself from human societies from a very young age; otherwise, there is no chance you can hind behind the wall from the public.

We believe that government might be able to build a moat from intending harms (from people who have intention to steal our personal information to do some damages); however, the term privacy will be crossed out from governments and all the businesses providing services that we use daily. They will be bound not to share or use our information to a degree. Yet, they do still own our data we trade for the free services or, due to necessities, we hand out to them. Same as the governments that they will have our data deep into the level from the second we were born to the very moment of their choice. In the future, we might have some chips inside of our brains for safety measure sort of reasons. And, if that’s the case, do you still think that we still have the right to talk about privacy?

 

Summary

The question here is not “which one will you choose?” But, “How long until we realized there is no way heading back but give in and embrace it?”

We really don’t need to worry about our privacy being collected by businesses providing services we use daily as long as there are regulations truly on consumers’ side to prevent hacks and frauds. Technology aims to make consumers’ lives better and easier. In order to achieve that goal, there are tradeoffs needed to be made. For instance, we can use echo devices as our phones or rather end points to broadcast and receive audio and video data packages. We can ask Alexa to initiate audio calls (or video calls if your device has that capability). We can even initiate a audio or video channel ourselves to any echo devices granted the access right to us (the feature is called “drop-in” on echo devices). In order to make those features work, Amazon needs to access (and have) our contact information from our smartphones which means they will be able to store those data on their servers. Hence, as a consumer ourselves, we can either choose to use advanced technology to make our lives better or choose not to hand our data and stay in the stone age until … well… somehow our personal data are being exposed in other ways without any technology benefits attached. The question here is not “which one will you choose?” But, “How long until we realized there is no way heading back but give in and embrace it?”