The sequel to the War of Independence is out now. Not in cinemas, but playing out on the world’s stage. The War of Independence II is not being directed by some well known Hollywood or Bollywood director, but by individuals. And it’s not cameramen that are recording events, but internet reports. The players are not paid actors either, but real people – you and me. There’s no make-up… the wounds and scars are all very real. And the entire epic is being well publicised by the world’s Press on a daily basis. Pundits with a point of view are not your traditional movie reviewers, but captains of industry. The audience are also the cast. The genre is reality.
Like the original War of Independence (WoI) between the UK and the US 240 years ago, the WoI II continues the theme of a backlash against the elite and the fight for our Rights. Descendants of the first WoI are following their forefathers by taking up positions and digging in for a long fight, perhaps for as long as the first (8 years). Already, similarities to the strategy and tactics of the first WoI are being played out with small-scale skirmishes as well as fixed battles. So, let’s have a look at the story so far.
On the one side of WoI II are the corporates, governments, and the hacking community, all separate entities, but certainly fighting for the same ends: control of the internet and access to the world’s most powerful commodity today: data… because with Big Data (including data science and analytics), data is the source that represents today’s Economy due to the potential for insights and knowledge that lead to power and money – the Internet Plc is the battleground. On the other side, again in no loose alliance per se, are the 3 billon users of the internet.
War has been declared. The year is 2016. It’s a war of the internet. It’s a war of individuals. It’s the second War of Independence.
One strategic play underway is government’s approach to the necessary governance that dictates how data is controlled. There are a plethora of regulations, directives, and legislation, from the Privacy Shield (replacing Safe Harbor) to the EU GDPR and individual countries like the UK with their Data Protection Act… not to mention various Bills, Acts and the like covering State-sponsored surveillance. At the heart of the objections raised by concerned citizens, pressure groups and lobbyists are issues to do with our Rights vis-a-vis Privacy.
From this governance falls the unique interpretations by commercial bodies, such as Privacy Policies, which few can afford to challenge in the Courts – issues here include the EU’s “right to be forgotten”… the operative word being right. As the Australian Privacy tzar put it recently, “While it’s encouraging to see that … appropriate privacy notices were consistent with their practices, it’s important (to) understand the bargain we strike with a retailer when we join a loyalty program. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, nor a free flight. The data that loyalty programs collect is valuable, and personal. So in this case, there is a price for the rewards from these programs.” What might be sold to us consumers as ‘opt-in’ is actually implicit, not explicit – take, for example, all the Terms & Conditions we have to Agree to (because governance dictates it), yet nobody has the time to read them.
And then there’s the Hacking Economy. Our private data vicariously flying around the internet, from our devices to the online servers where companies and governments also store our Private data, all being hacked and sold on to the highest bidders. And then this Private data is further being collected by aggregators for further commercial (or surveillance) value. We absolutely recognise that if we leave any kind of digital footprint behind, it’s there forever, and connections with all of our single footprints is being made.
From the consumer side of the battle, there is no organised resistance. However, individually, we all seem to be behaving and reacting in fascinatingly similar ways, which embodies in a unified mass surge of defiance. We have started to vote with our feet in defence of our Right to (online) Privacy. According to the 2016 Internet Trends report, “74% have limited their online activity in the past year due to Privacy concerns.” Worse still, the NTIA found that, “45% … stopped conducting financial transactions, buying goods or services via the Internet.” And the reason cited? “92% are worried about their Privacy.”
So, what’s the best way to win the war? Individual skirmishes are all very well, but we need to make alliances with powerful players. To that end, it is helpful that the Chief Economist of the Bank of England has recognised the ‘Great Divide‘ – the chasm that is separating banks and the little person on the street with our concerns of Privacy that have led to a breakdown of Trust. If we can ally ourselves with the big commercial institutions; if we can persuade them that they need to change their fundamental approach to transacting online, addressing our Privacy concerns; and if we can organise ourselves, then we stand a chance of winning back our Right to Privacy, and the WoI II can be won. If we can’t, the promise of the internet will implode – and if that happens, there will be no winners.
The successful outcome of any war depends on good logistics and a health supply chain. To a certain extent, it’s a numbers game, and the numbers certainly seem to stack up. But troops who feel that they are fighting alone (or actually are fighting alone) will soon starve. So, that’s where LifeBank comes in. The industrious LifeBank leaders have produced a capability that reaches out to every internet user – the weapon that LifeBank has manufactured is powerful in its own right, giving individuals the ability to organise themselves (so they can enjoy life, assured that their life is all in good order); but it also serves as the mechanism to store all their Private data offline, allowing them the custodial control of which parts of their Private data they wish to share, when they wish to share it, and with whom they wish to share it.
In essence, it returns the power back to the individual. Our Right to Privacy is then back in our own hands. If we choose to explicitly opt-in to dilute our individual power, then it’s our choice, not the choice of hackers, the government or commercial enterprise. But here’s the important part – it also provides an approach to create strategic alliances with those organisations that recognise the Great Divide, who genuinely want to rebuild Trust, so that they can maintain healthy relationships with their customers and keep one step ahead of the competition. It allows companies to provide the facility to transact with loyal customers. The LifeBank approach starts with an audit of the very Private data that is our number one concern that sits within the connected servers of the enterprise… an audit that includes a consolidated report on the commercial risks that the business is exposed to. Then it sets out a simple point-by-point plan to rectify the problem, including full support in executing the plan, starting with the low-hanging fruit.
If you want to win the WoI II, it’s time to engage proactively. For further reading, follow @NomadSquire on Twitter. To get involved right now, email firstname.lastname@example.org – who knows, your decision today could make the world a better place for us all tomorrow.