Yesterday something rather significant happened. A draft of new proposals was leaked from the European Union that would significantly alter the relationship between the end user (you and me) and Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and possibly Google. These proposals were deemed to be so significant that cheerleaders of these companies describe them as ‘the end of the internet as we know it’.
What’s got them so incensed?
The EU ePrivacy Law designed to protect EU citizens from big corporations. This has been rumbling along for some time but now details are beginning to emerge, and to say they place a bomb under the likes of Facebook’s business model would be an understatement. According to the Daily Mail the document suggests that:
‘The rules would force websites and browsers to ask for users’ consent before directing advertising at them based on their browser history.
Users currently have to actively opt out of receiving such advertisements.’
Read that again.
Right now the internet companies have grown overweight, fat and even obese on the wonderful grounds that to use their website/app people will merrily not read that much into the Terms and Conditions and just crack on. The business model is simple. Make something so desirable and free that you’ll sell your digital soul to get it. And since everyone else is doing it, it must be ok, right?
Imagine a world where all of a sudden users are confronted with the consequences of what they are doing. Where they are asked specifically to give up their privacy in return for these services. In other words, they are faced with the bare, stripped back, downright nasty data cesspit these companies exist in. Where they suddenly have to actively ask for the users permission to target them and in doing so reveal their hand that this is EXACTLY what has been going on for a few years now.
Imagine that on Facebook and Whatsapp. All those pop ups ‘we’re using your life, including every keystroke, picture uploaded and even where you are right now to target the crap out of you. Do you agree?’
Again and again and again…
Little wonder that an industry expert said the following:
‘This is very concerning — it’s putting at risk the entire internet as we know it,’ Yves Schwarzbart, head of policy and regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK, said, ‘Our number one concern is asking for prior permission. Advertising is the funding model of the internet, and helps publishers create better content.
Ah yes. It always ‘helps them make your browsing experience more relevant to you’
Do you know what? I learn more from my friends in BBM Groups who come from all sorts of places across the planet than you could feed me back in my box. The exchange of cultures in those Groups is amazing. All driven by free speech, self policed and granted the freedom of anonymity via PIN.
Oh, and I’m not suddenly asked if I want to be a ‘BBM Friend’ to someone just because they have it and I’ve just walked into the same building as them.
But it’s not just all that. The EU, after coming under increasing pressure from Telecoms companies, want to apply the same standards and rules to Facebook and Skype. This means regulation, standards and complying with government legislation. Which Facebook would rather not do, thanks.
The penalty for not complying with any of the above EU legislation is said to be set at 4% of turnover. To give you an idea what that is:
‘This fine would reach ten figures for the bigger companies at risk.’
10 figures?? Oh my word, that’s not good!! But that’s the price the EU are putting on the individual citizens personal freedom.
If that’s the price THEY’RE putting on it, what do YOU price yours at?
The answer to the question may be irrelevant shortly. Social media may just be about to return to its roots.
Rather than a way of bleeding you dry.