You may have noticed that the House of Representatives has passed legislation this week that essentially allows ISPs (those people that bring you your internet access) to sell your personal information (including your postings, browsing history etc. etc. ) to third parties.
A lot of people are up in arms about this. Superficially, this is a gross breach of personal privacy.
And it is.
It was inevitable.
And here’s why.
Since the Internet first became visible and usable (around 1994-95), one of the underlying paradigms that it implemented is that Everything Should Be Free.
The online world is full of social platforms all competing for your patronage. The vast majority of them are free of charge.
Now, I remember Rule #1 of capitalism. The one that says “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.
The likes of Facebook, Twitter et al have not been running a charity. They are, just like all businesses, trying to make money. If they cannot or will not charge users directly, there are only two ways that they can make money:
1. Put adverts into the content that they serve and manage
2. Sell your personal information to third parties (remember: everything you post on a site like Facebook becomes their property, to do with as they please. Read the small print).
There really is no other way that they can survive.
So, if you are surprised that the HoR passed the legislation that it did, you should not be. How else are these social platform providers going to make money?
Of course, you have a choice. It will require a mindset shift, but it could result in your private information not being sold to third parties.
The choice is to actually, you know, start paying for internet services.
I do this today, by donating to bloggers and news platforms.
If internet users are not prepared to actually pay for social platforms on the internet, they have no right to expect that their privacy will be respected. Simply, in an “everything is free” paradigm, your personal data is one of the few assets that a social platform company has, so it will be monetized.
We need to grow up about the internet, and understand reality.