Why privacy defaults are killing tech giants’ credibility

I guess this post is riskier than usual, as it might spark heavy debates (that’s good!), lots of trolling (that’s… meh, just ignore them!) and an uninterrupted flow of DDoS attacks on my blog. That’s bad.

Oh well, “live dangerously”, they say!

Once upon a time

It all started with a reply I made on a Tweet:

But then I started suspecting that I might have offended somebody!

Hmm. I understood their reaction once I glanced at these guys’ profiles: one is an advocate of Microsoft technologies, the other is a Partner Technology Advisor at Microsoft. Oops! Sorry guys, didn’t mean to offend anyone, really!

The replies are particularly interesting though, most especially the terms they used: stupid and ignorant.

The author of this Boing Boing article is possibly someone who does not have the knowledge a more technical-inclined person would have. And given the public targeted by Microsoft’s OS, I’d say a large user base is probably at the same level of knowledge as that post’s author, if only because they didn’t expect to have privacy issues with their OS’es so far. Unless they come from Ubuntu 12, that is.

As a matter of fact, if you haven’t read The Guardian or any of those blog posts out there, and if you don’t work at Microsoftyou might not be aware that Windows 10 might send data to the outside world.

So I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the author of that Boing Boing article is stupid. It’s actually a matter of not knowing Windows 10 as much as Microsoft!

Congratulations, you have been pwned!

You have not been pwned because Windows shares your data outside of the OS. It’s not all evil: we happily share our current location from our mobiles to avoid admitting that we’re lost!

You have been tricked because Microsoft, by default, has decided against protecting your privacy. And there lies the problem.

They are not the only ones, of course. Take Facebook: to enhance your privacy, you must opt-in, but to stop sharing you must opt-out.

So what about Twitter? Well, it does not give you much in terms of privacy protection choices, so basically you can expect no privacy. In fact, you might end up wondering how they know so much about you

At least Windows‘ settings allow you to opt-out… Though it looks like a lot of settings to go through!

Defaults: take a stand!

By specifying default settings, a company takes a stand. By deciding to default your settings on the least amount of privacy possible, they are stating that your privacy is not their main concern. Your data is.

For applications such as LinkedIn, this is kind of agreed: you’re in there to actually share your professional profile. But other applications or companies rely on your lack of knowledge to either make that choice for you or hiding what you are giving up in a mass of incomprehensible legal mumbo jumbo.

Now, what credibility will those companies gain from tricking you into giving them your data?

As much credibility as… those guys trying to trick you with a shell game: he who knows how that gambling game works stays away from those con men. Or knowingly plays by their rules…