over 7 years on 2010-02-26

IT ISN'T THAT PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT PRIVACY, IT IS JUST THAT PRIVACY IS GETTING MORE EXPENSIVE


andrew parker recently wrote a 'mea culpa' on his 2006-2007 conception that people cared about privacy... he writes:

but, where i #8220got it wrong#8221 regarding privacy was assuming that other users felt similarly to me. i didn#8217t think users were as proactive as i was about privacy hygiene, but i did think they had similar instincts.... it#8217s remarkable what data people will willingly hand over when asked nicely, and it seems to me that privacy concerns are rarely the friction to adoption i expect they would be.

given my privacy schtick a few people asked me what i thought.... short version - i get where andrew is going, but i would phrase it a bit differently.

it can all be reduced to relatively simple economics.... in the last several years a whole host of services have made the immediate pay-off to consumers for dropping privacy exceedingly high. people do care about privacy now, as they always have -- but on a relative basis, privacy/not submitting to the information market is just more expensive than it once was.

so, it isn't 'remarkable what data people will willingly hand over when asked nicely', it is amazing how the cost of fundamental inputs (compute/store/bandwidth) has sufficiently changed the economic model around personal information so that services ranging from fb to mint, etc. can provide users a huge utility return on giving up/selling/sharing more of their data.


original swl blogposts and letters 2007-2010