I don’t have a smartphone yet. I’ve been waiting to buy Google Glass, in my view the most exciting new tech in years. But the search engine giant’s big data collection and personalised search shenanigans have put me right off. So I’ve been looking for an alternative. It’s back to smartphones again, but which one?
Google and Facebook spy on you
Ind.ie has provided a solution I like. Amongst a host of other super-cool things, including an independent social network, they’re working on a beautiful and completely independent smartphone.
Why? As their website says:
“When Google and Apple create beautiful experiences, they control the hardware, the operating system, and the core services. The combination of these three components comprises the user experience. Without control over all three, you do not have control over the end-user experience and cannot possibly hope to compete on experience. Which is why we are designing a phone.”
How come online marketing is different?
Having been in direct marketing a long time, I’m constantly surprised at what Google and co get away with. In the old school offline marketing world you have the right as a consumer to opt out. Sometimes you even have to opt in. The Mailing Preference Service, Telephone Preference Service, Data Protection Act and Distance Selling Regulations are all there to protect us, letting us control whether or not – and how – corporate entities use our data for marketing.
How come the same doesn’t apply online? I know Facebook and Google don’t use name and address data, the ‘big data’ they use is apparently anonymised, but their targeting still has a profound and often unwanted effect on the information they deliver to your screen. And while they make an absolute fortune out of it, we don’t see any financial advantage. Google and Facebook use our behavioural data – without permission or payment – to make millions for themselves and the brands who advertise with them.
I think the corporate entities spying on us should work to the same rules as direct mail and telesales. As I’ve mentioned before, I support a clear, simple opt-out that everyone can understand, placed somewhere people can’t miss it, saying something like:
- Facebook: Are you happy to let us use your personal preferences and habits to tailor adverts to your interests? Yes/No
- Google: Are you happy to let us use your search preferences to tailor which websites and adverts you see? Yes/no.
I’d actually go further with Facebook. I don’t want to see adverts in my personal space, full stop, targeted or not. It isn’t a place where I want to ‘interact with brands’ either. I am never interested in interacting with brands. I’m into interacting with people. So a second question, ‘Do you want to see adverts in your Facebook account? Yes/No’ might do the trick!
The ind.ie manifesto
Thanks to ind.ie for creating the excellent, eloquent, plain language manifesto, below. If you’d like to experience the internet in a fairer, more private way without big brand and corporate interference, you might want to sign up for ind.ie updates, here.
Our fundamental freedoms and democracy are under threat from the monopoly of a business model called corporate surveillance.
As concerned individuals and organisations, we are working to change this status quo by shifting the ownership and control of consumer technology and data from corporations to individuals.
To achieve this goal, we will create new organisations that are independent, sustainable, design-led, and diverse.
We will use these organisations to create a new category of consumer products that are beautiful, free, social, accessible, secure, and distributed.
We call this new category of technology ‘Independent Technology’.
We are tackling a societal problem that cannot be solved by technology alone but which also cannot be solved without the creation of viable technological alternatives. To tackle this societal problem, we must have a diverse, interdisciplinary base. We must be politically and socially active. We must avoid the pitfalls of technological determinism. We must be critical in our approach. And we must be accessible to a mainstream audience.
We will build Independent Technology to enable all people, regardless of technical capability, to own and control their tools and data.
We will build Independent Technology to protect our fundamental freedoms and democracy.
Here’s to a beautiful, free, and independent future.