There is a bit of a convergence of two situations that will make many in the general public take pause about any perception or misconception they may have about privacy in an increasingly mobile world.
First, a Pew study confirms what most have already known and that is the fact the smartphones are everywhere and the more wealthy you are the more likely you are an iPhone user. We could show you charts on that but it’s really old news to most.
What is new, however, is the revelation by The Guardian that US citizens who are Verizon customers are being watched by the federal government via a top secret order (view the order). The paper reports
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
Chilling to say the least.
So how is this a marketing story? It’s about attitudes. Learning this should make anyone even more wary of just how privacy is more of a theory and less of a reality. As a result, there will be more suspicion about all online activities. The interactive marketing industry has been working hard to self-police itself but some have been suspect. As a result, there are some who think the government should be monitoring advertisers and data collection. Based on this news do you really think this is a good idea?
Let’s face it. If you think anything you do online, or anywhere for that matter, is private then you are an idiot. Sorry, just telling it like it is. It’s the new reality of the new digital world and people will have two choices. One is to capitulate. Accept the fact that you are being watched and monitored in some way at all times, keep your nose clean and hope that you don’t get caught up in something that you are not a part of at all.
The second option is to withdraw from modern life. No cell phone. Limited Internet. No email. While it sounds Draconian it’s the only real option available to get out from under the digital microscope. Even then you may never be truly ‘off the radar’.
As marketers we best be VERY careful how we handle customer data and try to be as transparent as possible. One hint of impropriety with data could cause not just a few customers to jump ship but an exodus could occur with the help of social media etc.
The world is a different place and we need to not simply pay it lip service but actually change how we do things as a result.
Do you agree? Disagree? Does this latest revelation trouble you or are you already resigned to the reality that you are being tracked 24/7?