Across the globe, human rights are being stripped away at an alarming pace. Far from Myanmar, Burma whose gross human rights violations have made international news headlines, in Silicon Valley thousands of coffee drinking “tech-trepreneurs” are unwittingly playing a leading role in a grotesque tragedy that has led to the virtual destruction of one of the most fundamental human rights… the right to privacy.
I’ve written about the public’s startling readiness to “disrobe for the next killer app” by allowing their identities and behaviours to be harvested by corporate and institutional bodies in ways most of the public do not comprehend. The bulk of the product being developed in Silicon Valley (and elsewhere) for use on our personal devices are, by design, corrupt. That’s right, corrupt. Lest you think “corrupt” is too severe an adjective for the systematic collection of personal data, I’d like to invite you to perhaps consider how, unchallenged, this is impinging on our human right to privacy. Indeed, the public’s complicity is largely due to a lack of awareness about data collection.
The power of words is undeniable. Words inspire and empower billions. Words too can be used to defame, humiliate or otherwise depress an individual or a community. Lastly, one’s own words taken out of context, can be used against them by those who wish to punish unjustly. The words you innocently text to a friend, the establishments you visit, and the behaviour that makes you an individual, are sacred. They are no less sacred than your physical self as they are very much a part of who you are as a human being. It is my contention that the subversion of any of this data constitutes a violation of the human right to privacy.
Governments, in the name of National Security are also in the business of bulk data collection, and while this may help in apprehending the “bad guys”, the reality remains that millions of pieces of our being are being permanently archived as latent evidence, just waiting to be taken out of context in determining who we are. Can you imagine a text you’ve written in confidence to a friend, a silly joke, a rude comment, or a strong political view coming back five years later as evidence in a lawsuit against you to undermine your moral character, or even worse, paint you as someone who should be behind bars? This is not the fantasy of a conspiracy theorist. This is the reality we live in and will continue to live in unless individuals and corporations embrace the Privacy First movement!
If we can’t rely on governments or corporations to put our privacy first, then a new generation of entrepreneurs must embrace those who wish to preserve their right to privacy. While on stage recently at the Belfast Summit with Tech Crunch editor-at-large Mike Butcher I declared Human Rights As A Service (HRAAS) as the way to mitigate the damage done and prevent future violations of our privacy. Platforms need to be built from the ground up as philosophically pure and they will in turn power the apps that will make privacy a priority. My own company Kwikdesk and our no-login/no-authentication discreet messaging product OneOne adhere to what I hope becomes a strict code of behaviour amongst developers of Privacy First products (PFP):
No account setup ( no login/password )
2. No authentication with existing social media accounts
3. No authentication with phone number
4. No IP tracking
5. No cookies
6. Data encrypted in device
7. Secondary encryption on server
8. No storage of encryption keys on server.
9. No analytics running in product
Make no mistake, your privacy is under attack and the movement to defend it is well under way. If you think that the only people concerned with privacy are those who have something to hide and are up to no good, then read this.
If you think Privacy First Products can’t be monetized, then read this.
For the record, I think there are times data collection serves us positively and I am not fundamentally opposed to in-app analytics. I am however keen to see a public that understands what is potentially at stake.
Now, off to San Francisco to drink some coffee! ☺