Rain Dances

FTC’s irrelevant report on Privacy and why it matters

Today FTC released it’s final report on online privacy and recommended that privacy should be designed as a part of the product, management of what is private and public is up to the consumer and that there needs to be more transparency regarding what is collected and who is collecting it. To sum it up there is nothing new or interesting about this report, nor is it impactful in any way because it’s just a recommendation and not a requirement. So you can just ignore it and take a nap, right?

boringftc

No. As I was called out by a few of you last week regarding the post about ISP security and Facebook privacy: This crap is boring, who cares! I’ll even admit that at times this almost seems like discussion about politics, liberties, big government and the inability of a single voice or opinion or (VAR) to make a huge difference can be disheartening and many of you might just move on. Which is fair.

My goal with Looks Cloudy isn’t to tell you what to think, it’s to tell you what the best people in the business are doing with these developments. How news turns into conversations how those conversations turn to marketing initiatives and how they ultimately lead to more sales and more sophisticated businesses.

There are seemingly two really profitable IT solution provider business models (third one is just pure sales/volume VAR which applies as much to car dealers and copier salesmen so I rarely address it.) In one corner we have a technology management business and in other we have a virtual CIO for the organization. Successful technology management companies tend to be larger, tend to have close ties to a particular technology developed in-house and are more concerned about the infrastructure than people. On the other side of the spectrum we have virtual CIOs who have fewer clients, tend to be smaller and more involved with the overall business implementation of the technology, even if at times they aren’t involved in the actual labor of the deployment. Those happen to be the dominant business models I see out there – with a ton of people stuck somewhere in the middle trying to decide whether they want a big rich company with lots of management or if they’d appreciate a smaller more intimate business that didn’t deal with grunt work or the liability. But everyone has a family to feed so it’s never a simple process.

My point is – no matter where you happen to be between the two business models and no matter where you are in the business itself – if you are talking to the client they are talking to you about a concern they have about their technology. Sales guy and techie running the cable both need to be on top of these developing topics because they show the kind of company you run and what kind of people represent your mission – is it pretty much all about the money or is there more to it than that?

So while potentially boring, it is worthwhile to put the FTC recommendations in some perspective – is this just your tax dollars poorly spent or is this a move towards privacy standards everyone needs to be aware of? If the MDM myth is to be believed, that the users are storing so much critical data on their mobile devices that they need to be monitored – then what is being stored in the cloud at which companies and to what extent is it correlated to the clients understanding of how these services are putting their business interest at risk.

To put it simply, one of my Facebook friends got a call from Bank of America today telling him that the card has been compromised and a new one will be in his hands within 7-13 days. If this were the primary method for payments – and bills needed to be paid today – what would he have to do?

Albeit at times boring, these issues matter to solution providers that are addressing everything from management and security. While it’s easy to talk about a massive privacy issue with Path that got addressed within a day or a huge problem Sony had and couldn’t quickly estimate the extent of the compromise, discussing how privacy can be managed with the tools that are already in place – and why it matters is a real business concern.

While it may seem boring, I bet your clients don’t find their privacy and business interest being compromised as a joke. And aren’t we all about our clients in the first place?

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