Regardless of who wins the White House at the close of the election, we as Americans do need to think about how we are going to engage, relate, relinquish control of our privacy in this Internet age.
Among the many advantages the Internet provides is the ability to collect, track and report on movements from what webpages we visit, what we buy, where we go, our hobbies, likes, dislikes, and so on. Should the power to abdicate this privacy be placed in the hands of Google, Facebook, eBay and others who will operate in their own best interest? OR should the government pass legislation that protects the rights of our privacy online and what 3rd party companies can and cannot use without our permission? These are important questions that have longer term implications for us all.
As a company founded and focused on privacy, we feel it is our responsibility to be outspoken on this all important issue. As such, please see our recent press release below and we will share further efforts on this topic moving forward:
SpiderOak to Legislators: New Policies Urgently Needed to Protect Online Privacy
Mobile Applications, Web Browsing, Gaming and Social Media Are Being Monetized for Profit — at the Expense of Consumer Privacy
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Nov 01, 2012 — SpiderOak, the ‘zero-knowledge’ privacy cloud backup, sync and sharing provider, is urging legislators to put a priority on passing legislation to protect online privacy. In a world where every interaction has an online component, online privacy rights are consistently being neglected or outright ignored.
SpiderOak CEO Ethan Oberman believes now is the time for legislators to address this critical issue. Consumers’ mobile activity, online Web browsing, gaming and social media are being monitored and recorded by companies without opt-in permission (and in some cases without permissions at all). These companies then sell the users’ data without user knowledge and for significant profit.
60 percent of the most popular online websites violate advertising industry best practices by, among other activities, hosting cookies that collect and enable the sale of personal data . Online ad revenues reached $17 billion in the first half of 2012, a 14 percent increase over the same period in 2011 . Facebook alone made a profit of $1.20 per user in 2011, in part by selling the personal data of its 850 million users .
“Privacy is a basic human right. To date — however — major online players such as Google and Facebook have been ignoring that fact,” said Ethan Oberman, CEO of SpiderOak. “Lobbying groups are circling the wagons — intent on preventing the government from passing legislation that protects the privacy rights of consumers and companies alike. The social contract to ‘do no harm’ needs to be refreshed before it is too late. There is no reason why companies can’t be transparent about the information they are collecting, develop fully opt-in strategies and earn a profit all at the same time.”
Private information is a valuable business and companies show no signs of halting their for-profit surveillance. No wonder lobbying organizations like the DMA Data-Driven Marketing Institute are contributing millions of dollars to fight privacy legislation .
“SpiderOak has blazed a trail in online privacy by proving users can still enjoy all the benefits of cloud technologies without having to sacrifice the value of their content to anyone and for any reason,” said Oberman. “The steps we’ve taken towards greater transparency and privacy is a beacon for the rest of the industry to follow. We urge the government to pass legislation, such as Do-Not-Track, that will empower and protect users — giving them rights well within the traditions of this great country.”
SpiderOak’s industry-leading ‘Zero-Knowledge’ Privacy Standard takes a holistic approach to privacy that affords the complete protection of user data. File backup, synchronization, and storage are encrypted throughout every stage; SpiderOak never stores the plaintext version of a user’s encryption keys (or password). Even those with direct physical access to the storage servers — such as SpiderOak staff — cannot view any portion of a user’s content including folder names, filenames or file sizes. The complete protection of data is thus ensured.
 MIT Technology Review, “Online Advertising Poised to Finally Surpass Print,” 17 October 2012.
 ITP, “Facebook Scores $1.20 Profit Per User,” 2 February 2012.
 The Hill,“Advertisers Launch $1 Million Campaign to Combat Privacy Concerns,” 15 October 2012.
Read original press release on MarketWatch.