Google’s Vint Cerf, who is recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet,” stated “Privacy May Be An Anomaly.” Historically, he is right in some context. We used to bathe in the open and wore less and more revealing clothes in the past. Some won’t mind going back to those days but ever since humans acquired the ability to communicate it always had the option to do it in private. Moreover, confidentiality is the corner-stone of several business sectors such as Health, Legal and Finance. So the question is: as a professional, who will you trust?
Snapchat – a service that provides self destruct photo messaging – turned down a reported$3 billion offer from Facebook. Whatsapp claims to have more users than Twitter and handles more messages than Facebook. Bear in mind that Twitter and Facebook are free and Whatsapp is not*. In Asia, Wechat and QQ combined rule the messaging airwaves with more than a billion users. All these social messaging services enable users to communicate much in the same way we use email and SMS. Better yet, social messaging challenges the connections we make by phone, email or SMS. A recent study by industry-analysts Informa indicated that by the end of 2013 OTT (Over The Top) messaging traffic should be twice that of traditional SMS texts, topping out at around 41 billion messages sent every day (compared to 19.5 billion sent via SMS). More importantly: I believe services like Snapchat are popular because they simulate a sense of privacy traditional communication use to provide.
One might suspect that the push for more privacy is driven by an older more conservative demographic. Actually, it is quite the opposite. Recent studies revealed teens are fleeing social networks while elders, the only growing group, are encouraging them to stay on and broadcast. So if those who share scatter, but the spectators multiply, it is likely that privacy backlash will lead a ‘Trust Revolution’. This is already evident in the legal industry were legal tech experts predict ‘security awareness’ to be among the top priorities for law firms in 2014. To be specific: maintaining confidentiality of client information will be the top priority for law firms according to this article. This is especially more pertinent where professionals rush to the clouds out of convenience. Thus the question is: who can you trust?
In a previous post, I touched upon Apple’s fingerprint technology as a valuable breakthrough which might have far-reaching implications in how we communicate. Imagine securing not only your phone but all your documents with a fingerprint instead of passwords orproperly identify parties you communicate with and have them sign with their hands instead of a John Hancock. While I’m truly grateful I’m still hesitant to completely place my faith in any one company that either needs to lock me in or lure me to reveal information for ads. Free is very attractive but my soul is priceless and I value a whisper among the trees as much as shouting from the rooftop. As a legal professional, I can imagine doing business with a company that understands my needs. As a Wolters Kluwer employee, I will always strive to secure the trust our customers place in us.
*Whatsapp is a subscription service.