Silicon Valley seems to think its better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission

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Mobile social start-up Path isn’t on the radar of the general public in the same way as Facebook or Twitter but it has been gaining traction with a number of London’s PR digerati given the amount of friend requests I have received over the past few weeks. It made the tech press headlines this week for rather different reasons; scraping the address book of iPhone users and transferring it to their servers. That provided people with a number of concerns, to name three:

  • What was Path using the data for?
  • How would be protected against a hacking attack a la Anonymous?
  • Why wasn’t permission asked?

The reality is that Path fits a wider behavioural trait within Silicon Valley start-ups that privacy was a concept to be broken. The reality is that Facebook, Zynga and Airbnb have gotten away with it already has opened the doors for others to take liberties with their customers. There has been a curiously muted response that just wouldn’t happen if it was traditional brands like British Gas, BT or Vodafone. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their privacy and online image so it is only a question of how long before this goes from beyond the digerati getting upset to a wider consumer concern.

This consumer concern maybe precipitated by the work being done by Microsoft to take advantage of Google’s new privacy policy; and Google could be an unwilling new pioneer despite not being the worst offender on privacy violation.

Archived from the blog I used to write at PR Week.