Can the future be a privacy apartheid?
Nov 16, 2023
Users are now being asked if they want to pay for privacy. Can you waiver your civil rights just because you don’t can afford them?
The era of technology has brought about the promise of convenience and efficiency, but it has also raised concerns about privacy. With the rise of social media platforms and the amount of personal data shared online, there is increased interest in privacy protection.
However, a new debate has emerged around whether social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can manipulate users by offering features to protect their privacy while leaving other users unprotected.
On the one hand, it is understandable why these platforms would want to offer privacy features. Users are increasingly concerned about their personal data being shared and sold to third-party companies without their consent. Offering privacy features can help retain users and attract new ones who value their privacy.
On the other hand, some argue that these platforms are using privacy as a bargaining chip to monetize their users. If users want privacy, they must pay for it. This creates a two-tiered system, where those who can afford to pay for privacy are protected, while those who cannot are left vulnerable.
This raises ethical questions about whether social media platforms should be allowed to withhold privacy protection from some users. Should privacy be a basic right for all users, or is it a luxury only available to those who can afford it?
Moreover, some have raised concerns that offering privacy features can actually be detrimental to the overall security of the platform. By allowing some users to opt out of data collection, it can make it more difficult to detect and prevent malicious activity on the platform.
Another trend is the pivot that tech giants are now starting to make towards creating subscription fees. Twitter already has the verification badge, Meta is rolling out paid versions of its products, and Google, which already has a plethora of paid services, will surely be pressing for more recurring revenue. This trend is caused by a mixture of uncertainty about the economy, near certainty about incoming regulation from the European Union, and greedy shareholders who are now seeing safer options elsewhere in a post-pandemic mode.
The upcoming privacy wars are a complex issue with no easy answers, and it’s almost guaranteed that the price, whatever it is, will be paid by the citizen. The citizen will continue to have their privacy commoditised until legislation says otherwise. The tiered privacy industry is already settling and determining the new normal, but its effects will not be apparent immediately. One example is the apparent alignment of the weak UK administration with the California giants suggests even further threats, like the monetisation of health data from the public health apparatus, which is the crown jewel, with potential hundreds of billions of euros, pounds, or dollars at stake.
And that’s just the beginning. I know: always an optimist, right?