How can we protect user data from aggressive IT vendors?

Privacy caution
graphic: Mizusumashi
Please, guys, clean up your acts, before (still more) government regulation steps in.

I recently wrote about Cisco’s attempt to grab every byte that flows through some of their Linksys brand routers. As far as I know, this didn’t violate any US laws. It simply demonstrated lack of respect for its’ end users’ privacy.

In general, I like the way that our marketplace works. It usually rewards the best product. In this case, the market should resolve to never buy another Cisco product, until Cisco clearly shows contrition. I doubt if this will happen.

Computer users’ private information is just too tasty for vendors to resist. It helps them sharpen their marketing, and when aggregated, can be sold as just another product. Thanks to the pressure from Wall Street and private investors, corporate CEOs worry about this quarter’s profit. Often, long-term planning is next quarter. It’s awfully tempting to “monetize” your customers’ private information, in order to meet profit expectations.

The only restraints on IT vendors mis-handling customer info:

  • A company’s ethics
  • Privacy protection law
  • Government regulation of marketplace

Can we depend upon the ethics of a company’s management team, or do we need still more laws or <shudder — our government at every level is already bloated> regulation?

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


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