Greater consumer-privacy protections
In recent years, billions of consumers have come to enjoy – and even rely on – the “free” digital services that companies like Facebook and Google provide. Yet recent scandals over privacy are causing a growing number of people to realize what Apple CEO Tim Cook once said best: “when an online service is free, you’re not the customer ... you’re the product”.
To be fair, not all users want to opt out of the ads and services that FANG-type firms sell; in fact, some simply don’t care how their digital information is used. Others may be concerned, but ultimately unable or unwilling to pay for a service like Facebook’s should it change its advertising-supported business model.
As the fight continues over the monetization of private information, the European Union will soon step into the ring with its new General Data Protection Regulation – a robust set of requirements aimed at guarding the personal information of all EU citizens. Launching in May 2018, GDPR will raise the costs of mining and disseminating digital data, which could affect the bottom line of any firm doing business in the EU. That includes the FANGs.
With privacy concerns increasingly making headlines, we expect more jurisdictions to put an emphasis on personal privacy instead of taking a laissez-faire approach. If this movement spreads to society at large, perhaps the social propriety of social media could be called into question. Even if the #deletefacebook movement ultimately loses steam, the customer is always right – and votes with his or her feet.