There is a price to all the free services you’re using.
The last few months everyone seems to be freaked out about NSA spying on the world (and their own citizens in particular). It seems to even have become fashionable to complain about surveillance, demand stuff from congressmen, CEO’s, the government. It’s all very nice, but people seem to be missing the point:
Your privacy is being sold every single day to the lowest bidder for a price as low as 5$ per year, and the NSA isn’t the only buyer.
Our privacy is like a drug that ad agencies, governments and enterprises can easily get addicted to. It’s a high of increased awareness of the user’s behaviour that’s hard to resist, followed by increased tolerance, and a desire to know more. In this metaphoric comparison to drug abuse, illegal contraband, e.t.c, while the users are not angels themselves, the seller is the ugliest party in this whole business.
Now, think with me: who is the seller? Who are the buyers? and what is (or who is) the product? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn were all among the 10 biggest IPO’s ever, which probably means they have a really well selling product to sell to a very demanding market. Right? You’re obviously not the buyer, because you’re not paying a cent to use any of those services. So, obviously, that leaves you as the product.
(source: Investors Mosaic)
A quick search through public records of the above companies reveals how much you’re being sold for. The dollar figures above are yearly revenues per user. You are basically selling your privacy for less than $100 per year. How do you feel about that? We all cry and protest against NSA (the buyer) invading our privacy, against ad agencies using our private information to show us relevant ads e.t.c, but we ignore the fact that we’re being sold for as low as $5 a year.
Again, there is a price to all the free services you’re using. That price is your privacy. As long as we’re flocking to eat that free cheese in a mouse trap, we have little authority to protest against all those buyers addicted to the high of knowing everything about us. We are not dealing with the core issue.
Which brings me to my point:
In this war for our privacy, we have to start seeing things clearly. We have to be able to understand what we’re agreeing to when we’re empowering the currently prevalent business model. Personally, I would rather pay $5 per year for a social service, than use it for “free” and become the product, sold for $5 per year. What about you?
I’m not saying the scenario I’m raising up won’t make everything tap-proof, but I do think that it’s better to be a customer, and not the sold product.