Allen S. Rout

Personal site

Business environment

Security and privacy have gotten a lot of attention in the past several years. The 'War on Terror' has prompted government agencies to demand spy access to communications we used to think private property. Laws and plans for these spy tools have been built in secret.

Tech companies are deeply affected by these efforts. Corporations may have to be enemies to their customers, perhaps letting governments spy on customer data or devices. State agencies try to get secret access, so called 'back doors’, placed in products. Some companies, such as Lavabit, shut down instead of acting as spies. Others, like BlackBerry, give way.

Today, nearly everyone has a smartphone; the opportunity to sell customer data is everywhere. Even entertainment or game companies must face these moral and ethical decisions. It might be better “business” to sell customer information to third parties than to sell a product to a customer. In that setting, the 'product' can be viewed as a cover under which a customer is convinced to run spy code on their device.

Company executives must think carefully about these issues. If they do not, then a decision made in a hurry could leave them betraying their customer base.


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