Privacy is a Commodity
The three most valuable commodities on the planet are:
1. Time.
2. Privacy.
3. Money.
That statement may ruffle a few feathers because privacy is a fundamental human right. Right?
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Let's start with some context.
Privacy is a hot topic that is often widely debated. The only problem is that privacy is an individual consideration similar to the question of how one should spend their time and or money.
To start let's break down some privacy issues:
  1. 1.
    Business model issue. When data extraction is a crucial contributor to a company’s bottom line, they need to extract more and more data to continue growing. There is a tipping point where this becomes creepy and problematic – remember Cambridge Analytica?
It’s important to note that data collection isn’t inherently wrong; without targeted ads, we would still receive flashy banner ad promotions.
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2. Product issue. There are many instances of this, but a familiar example is what we coined the ‘Joe Rogan’ problem. While Signal is private from an encryption standpoint, Signal does not respect user privacy when it comes to growth. Signal automatically sends a push notification to and puts you in a chat with every user in your address book.
3. Graph issue. We all made the mistake of adding every single person we knew on Facebook. Now posting without getting in trouble or offending someone has become borderline impossible.
Back to commodities.
As mentioned at the start of this post – what you choose to do with your privacy is an individual consideration. Unfortunately, many people take it upon themselves to tell others what they should be doing. Leaving those who may be more passive in their approach confused and afraid.
Contrary to common belief, privacy is a commodity. Depending on your risk appetite, you can invest, trade, and spend your privacy in exchange for a whole host of personal benefits:
  • You can trade your privacy for security. A passport/personal identifier may offer you citizenship in a country protected by a military/police force.
  • You can trade privacy for convenience. When you download a new app and want to know whether your friends are already on the platform. You may choose to share your address book.
  • You can trade privacy for experience. While Apple Maps may not track you, unlike Waze, it doesn’t tell you where the police/speed cameras are.
  • You can trade privacy for access. Many social platforms are free because they use your data to generate ad revenue.
  • You can trade your privacy for money. Many crypto-networks are rewarding users in the form of ownership in exchange for access to their data.
It's important to note that there is generally a trade-off between privacy and product experience. This trade-off is a personal decision with no "right" answer.
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The vast majority of us are not paranoid when it comes to privacy. We are simply asking – is what I’m getting worth what I’m giving up? And often, it’s not, and in many cases, we are just getting used.
Just like time, and money, privacy is a precious commodity. You can waste it, spend it, save it or invest it.
What are you getting in return for giving up some of your privacy?
Inspired by – Antonio Martinez.
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