The Privacy Platform Wars are ON!

The privacy platform battles we promised clarified and escalated last week as we learned how services may learn from advanced analytics at big data velocities without jeopardizing user privacy.   Specifically, at least some of the analytics can take place on the device, and be stored on and in connection with the device.  To the extent that personal profiles and other personally-identifiable information (PII) remain on the device and are not backed up in the cloud in a way that makes them accessible to anyone other than the phoneholder, then the phoneholder is insulated somewhat on the supply side against behavioral advertising, but of course more importantly the phonemaker becomes a much less attractive target for hackers, malware, government surveillance and cyber-espionage.   Consider, all you automakers, designers of home hubs, makers of medical and fitness wearables and others who are creating what will become the sphere of private life for this century and beyond — you for whom privacy platforms are even more compelling both because you are working in areas that have been the most protected zones of privacy by law and custom and because you have so many more competitors than do the big phone operating systems that are already remaking your worlds — how volcanically this idea will reshape your respective worlds!

At the same time, we learned of demand-side controls that will be introduced into the new privacy platforms such as easier ways to block ads.  Clearly, the new privacy platforms will address privacy both at the data protection (or supply-side) level of where your information goes and at the existential (or demand-side) level of your right to be left alone.

Until last week the public knew about the rapid movement to encryption without backdoors that unites all of the big technology companies.   As for the distinctions between platforms  that will make privacy markets work, we had new privacy policies and some new developer standards, but we did not know enough about how the new platforms would begin to operationalize privacy.  There is still so much more to understand and invent.

As with all great martial arts drama, it remains to be seen whether privacy platforms are fighting blind, putting themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage by moving away from no-holds-barred big data, or whether they can get what they need for the most insightful and delightful products by being clever and selective.  We will explore these issues in a “fireside chat” at TRUSTe’s IoT Privacy Summit 2015 called “Making Friends with Your Wearable,” designed to help platforms walk the ever-more-challenging data strategy line to hit the right balance between functionality, intimacy and trust to enable acceptance and maintain loyalty.


The grace to call a halt, that is to say: to check the impulse which prompts Man always to block up, one after another, such fissures as may open up in the blank wall of necessity and to round off his achievement by slamming shut the doors of his own prison. This is the grace for which every society longs…

                                                Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques