For many children, smartphones are a gateway to greater independence and a more fulfilling social life. But smartphones can also open up a child’s life to the intrusive tracking, profiling and targeting that are table stakes for life in our digital world, potentially in ways that go beyond just advertising. Here, I’ll explore how smartphones are used by companies to legally surveil minors and what can be done to help children stay protected from the excesses of the surveillance economy.
I have long believed that digital transformation allows enterprises to quickly recognize and adapt to market transitions – which is key to gaining market share and breaking away from competitors. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the grand work-from-home experiment has further demonstrated the benefits of a digital-first mindset. Companies that already had the digital infrastructure in place were able to move their operations from one or more central offices to employees’ homes overnight.
CEO walks out of nondescript office building accompanied by COLLEAGUE. CEO pulls smartphone out of her purse to study a restaurant’s website. Her smartphone’s status bar blinks briefly to indicate a change in cellular connection status.
As I wrote in my book Connecting the Dots, trust is one of a company’s two most important assets (the other is information). For a company looking to lead a market transition, establishing trust is a bit like the old chicken and egg dilemma: The company can’t earn trust without customer validation, yet they can’t get customers without first establishing trust. This is exactly why the hardest customer to land is always the first – and why, at the end of the day, successfully navigating the delicate balance of trust becomes vital to survival.
So far this year, the surreptitious capture of audio and visual data via smartphone cameras and microphones has negatively impacted the world’s richest person and a beloved trillion-dollar company. It’s safe to say that awareness of this issue has reached the mainstream, increasingly forcing individuals, enterprises and product makers to change how they operate. To see how the trajectory of smartphone surveillance has changed even in the last several months, I think it would be helpful to look back at my 2019 predictions as a starting point.
In August, we conducted our annual survey designed to gauge attitudes about mobile security and privacy. In looking behind this year’s numbers, I was struck by how shifting perspectives seem to mirror the goings-on in the world of Apple. As a trillion-dollar company and the maker of the ever-popular iPhone, Apple has a metaphorical magnifying glass on everything it does, good or bad.
Think of the last time you received a sensitive piece of information. Perhaps it was news of a highly anticipated project at work finally getting the green light, or maybe a not-for-public-consumption update about a friend’s pregnancy. Now recall what you did with that information. Did you keep it to yourself or did you share it with a significant other or trusted friend?
There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!
- a line from the 1992 film Sneakers
I’m happy to share that the Air Force, through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, has awarded Privoro a prototyping contract for our government smartphone security solutions. You can learn more by reading our press release announcing the contract.