Let’s start by stating the obvious; the internet is the most amazing advancement in humanity in the past 100 years. How amazing to have a fountain of all knowledge at your fingertips! It’s changed the way we work and live forever. It gave birth to a whole new industry and has generated billions in revenue for companies and individuals around the world. It has broken down borders and brought the world closer together. We all used to feel that the internet was fairly free. Open democracy, free space to share thoughts and free to get people to visit your sites. Free to share opinions and to make your own content.
I’ve been involved in this world even before the World Wide Web. Going back as little as 15 years ago, before all our activity was tracked and monitored by the likes of cookies, Matmi were making advergames and attracting people to visit a site or look at a product by engaging in a fun way (rather than stalking users with cookies and SEO). Our games were viral and millions of people around the world engaged with them even though we paid no money for promotion.
The picture today is very different. It has become a lot more difficult to get people to actually discover your content. And the associated costs with attracting people to it have also increased. With all this change a lot of companies flourished, such as Google and Apple, and in a lot of ways the key to their success has been the data that they collect. I remember Google as a start up! We all know Google would be worthless if it wasn’t for the amount of data it had on everyone’s browsing habits. But the success of data collection and tracking has had huge repercussions on the tech industry as a whole; in fact even the companies that flourished as a result of this have faced a backlash of sorts. The public has come to realise that privacy as we once knew it no longer exists.
With allegations of corruption, hacking and spying, the public are now all too aware that their calls, texts and social connections are monitored by government agencies due to the growing paranoia about ‘terrorists’. Certain agencies have also tried to break encryption standards, which is the basis of all the security on the web. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web has recently spoken out against the GCHQ and the NSA, stating that breaking these encryption standards is ‘appalling and foolish’. I couldn’t agree more. Many people think ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide then what’s the problem?’ But humanity needs privacy to survive.
Several countries, including some of the world’s leading nations, i.e. Russia, China and Brazil are already working on alternative internet structures, as the spying has also implicated major Western corporations such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and many more. Non-Western nations have now lost confidence in these brands; which will inevitably result in them designing their own operating systems, their own email systems, their own microchips. Without the trust, the future of the internet is limited, and if things continue how they are, the Western world will soon no longer be dominant in the technological and internet industry.
How does this affect Matmi, and the work we do for our clients?
Recently Matmi have experienced first-hand the crippling effect all of this has had on technological advancements. We’ve been working with perceptual computing technology, and with this technology we can recognise people’s movements and gestures, judge their heart rate, their mood, and even recognise who they are. We want to use this technology for fun experiences in the real world, however we have recently realised that we need to work within restrictions as we now believe no data is safe. Privacy is the number one concern for us. This leaves us torn between what we can do and what we should do.
The only hope we have is that the public educate themselves in exactly what data people have about them. And if the aforementioned corporations stand up and demand that our governments restore the faith and confidence in the Western tech industry going forward. Our leaders need to realise that we are on a path to digital suicide; we must make changes before it’s too late.
Ignorance is bliss until it destroys us.
Jeff Coghlan, CEO
If your brand or agency are interested in what Matmi could produce for you, please give us a call +44 (0) 1625 560771 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org