It's become increasingly clear to me in my perusal of the tech media and my experience working in Digital Marketing that privacy has become a luxury good.

Should it be that way? No. I think there should be some enforceable rights around the use of private data on the internet, but we clearly don't have it now.

I believe the evolution will be that the rich will demand some forms of privacy and will be willing to pay a premium for it. The parallel to this that I drew in my post on the food-tech analogy is that of the organic food industry. It started with a few firebrands, spread to being the preserve of the rich and eventually grew to be a much broader movement.

We can see the start of the privacy as a luxury good movement in Apple. Apple has established itself as the luxury good brand in the tech space, with their beautiful devices, clean aesthetic and high prices. It's not surprising, therefore, to see them at the forefront of the privacy market by advertising the privacy features of the iPhone in contrast to Google's laxer approach:

 

Google's CEO penned an op-ed in the New York Times a while back claiming that privacy should not be a luxury good, reinforcing that that's exactly what it is right now. Pichai and Google underscored this when they released privacy features on Chrome that fell far short of the features of Apple's Safari or Firefox.

If we shift from the realm of ethics to the realm of business strategy, I think we'll begin to see start-ups emerge to capitalize on the 'privacy as luxury' trend. For example, I have noticed a few examples of paid, privacy-friendly social networks being offered on kickstarter (one example from a fast Google search), taking aim at Facebook and their recent flagrant violations of public trust.

I think it will be great for people to have options to pay with money rather than data. Logically, it will be the people with the most money that do this first. It will be a few years, but I do think its only a matter of time when it becomes a movement that benefits everyone.

 

 

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