“Privacy is not a feature”

The cloud vendor Zoho takes a counterculture stance on privacy in this interview of Raju Vegesna by Jon Reed. By going beyond consumer privacy, Zoho is winning hearts and minds. Zoho avoids storing third-party cookies on their website and skips Google Analytics. By tackling workplace privacy in a pro-employee manner, Zoho also becomes a better place to work. Interview link

Generally speaking, the offline world operates on the premise of ‘stranger danger.’ The online world (by design) involves the seizure of personal data by vendors based on consumers’ blind consent to use addictive products. Social media companies and some third-party vendors take us for granted and generously expose our data like gangsters while making a tidy profit. Case in point: Facebook has done little to prevent the recent leak of users data: Link

The problem is apparent, but too much is invested in cloud vendors to do anything about it. Something is wrong with cloud-based business models when end-users become the product to be exploited. I’m skeptical about American politicians fixing the data privacy mess, although they are trying. Kudos to vendors like Zoho and Apple for thinking much deeper and doing more to protect the consumer. The private sector can solve this by conscious capitalism. Wealth and class divisions get solved by digital literacy only if the smartest folks in the room share values such as consumer privacy and employee data protection.

I predict more people will adopt the off-the-grid hermit lifestyle if this goes on unabated. The private sector risks losing customers who no longer value the digital lifestyle given its proclivity towards mental health issues. The current 2020s are happening like the Roaring 20s of a hundred years ago, which also depended on technology-led growth, only to collapse when American expectations far exceeded economic reality in 1929. Privacy needs prioritization in every boardroom. A revolt is coming to no-brainer capitalism. Visionary companies who care about privacy like Zoho deserve the growth they achieve.