Since they don’t have a reputation to protect, there’s no need to think about the consequences.
You should probably be more wary of the new app you downloaded because it’s fairly likely the company behind it doesn’t care about your privacy.
While large companies are more wary of the problems that can be associated with selling data, startups in early phases simply do not consider privacy to be a major factor. This was reflected in a talk earlier this month given by Rob Symes, founder of a predictive analytics company, when he said, “It’s not my job to care about privacy.”
This is despite Symes receiving a number of angry responses from shocked members of the public – “Is it not a violation of Human Rights [sic]?” Maggie Kaye wrote – after it was revealed that staff at his company, The Outside View, are forced to take part in an experiment that sees them track various elements of their fitness or leave the company.
This idea was reinforced in a committee room in the House of Commons on Tuesday, when the head of a group set up to support the growth of technology companies in the UK said the biggest privacy scares can come from young technology startups as these companies have very little to lose.
While larger companies might be wary of working with more intimate areas of customer data, smaller companies are more willing to take the risk, Antony Walker, deputy CEO of Tech UK said at an event focussed on what technology firms should demand from politicians, organised by Pictfor (The Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum).
Aarthi Ramamurthy, founder of camera-rental company Lumoid – and former Microsoft and Netflix employee – based in San Francisco confirmed this on Radio 4’s Today programme, when she said: “I don’t think any startup cares about regulatory stuff until it gets really big.”
This might just explain why some of the biggest privacy concerns come when early-stage startups develop technology that gets into the media limelight, from recycling bins that track your movements to retailers implementing technology to follow people around stores without telling them about it.
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