It began before news stories about NSA leaker Edward Snowden cropped up-there were rumors and actual reports about the government snooping on everyone, and some even suggested that regular people had begun spying on one another. However it happened, what’s clear is that people have begun to view online privacy in a whole new light, and 2014 may just be the year that consumers begin demanding their privacy back, here’s why.
Before people learned about government snooping, their main fear was having their identity stolen, while that’s still a concern, it’s not as big as before. Now people just want to know that nobody is reading their email, or getting behind their Facebook wall. Apparently so do the companies that bring us such services, with some demanding action from the White House, and others threatening to change their services or even their business model to keep the government out, while letting consumers in. It’s that second one that may ultimately make a difference. If Facebook, Twitter or cloud service providers such as Microsoft, Google or even Dropbox start creating products that guarantee freedom from government interference, than consumers will almost certainly gravitate towards them, because seriously, who wouldn’t rather be part of a service that supports privacy?
Of course there is a catch, the government can always get a court order to force providers to turn over their data-that’s standard law. But things would still be different if service provider products change to prevent having data scrubbed via data miners, ala PRISM, and that would stop a lot of snooping right there-in order for the government to snoop on your Internet activities, they’d have to have some evidence that you were doing something illegal. And that right there might be all the incentive the public needs to begin demanding back their privacy-at least as it pertains to the Internet. The very idea that consumers might have a choice in picking products that shield them from being counted by the government, much less having their data ransacked, would surely be very popular.
But what about privacy concerns in other areas such as hackers breaking into Target accounts? Or gadgets such as Google Glass threatening to create a world where everybody has their activities recorded the moment they step out of the house? As consumers discover they have the power to stop government intrusion, they’ll likely begin to demand the same from corporations and even their fellow travelers on this slowly heating planet. All signs are suggesting 2014 may just be the year where the tipping point is reached-the year when consumers begin demanding change.