The MBA Guide to IT

Episode 37 - Why isn’t information private?

On paper, you would think companies would race to be the best at protecting their customers’ privacy.  Or that lawmakers would respond to privacy gaps with appropriate regulation.  Why isn’t that happening?

Well, it is.  Sort of.

In a civilized society, we find various ways to work cooperatively.  Sometimes, it’s charity.  You need something and I give it to you.  Sometimes, it’s the free market.  You bake a cake and I pay you for it.  Sometimes, it’s regulation.  We all agree not to drive over 70 and we never ever go faster than that.

None of this has produced the strong Information Privacy landscape you might expect.

Let’s look at the market.  Some firms protect privacy but many don’t.  Why not?  Perhaps the power is lop-sided.  Without strong competitors, you either accept their terms or you don’t use the service.   Or quite possibly, privacy isn’t that important to most users.  A lot of people freely post personal information.

Let’s look at regulation.  Writing good laws for fast-moving technology is hard.  Even a well-intentioned law can congeal the current technology and inadvertently restrict new innovations that might make everything better.  And again, it’s not clear that privacy motivates voters.

Some forward-thinking companies place privacy first.  And some even propose regulation.  Intel has drafted a privacy bill they hope Congress will pass.  (Full disclosure:  I was a design engineer there for most of my career.)

Of course, your firm doesn’t have to wait for the market or the government.  You can act today and give your customers choices over the information you collect.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about some of the ways to do that.

I’m Carter Edmonds with 20CREEK.  We help you build IT you’ll brag about.

Episode #37 – 1/30/2019

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