This week we learned of a few apps (Path and Hipster) that are uploading all or part of our address book to their servers without any consent from the user. I imagine there are probably many apps that are doing this. Many are focusing on the obvious issue of privacy, but it really got me thinking about the various possible motives, malicious or not.
I was really intrigued by the response given by Dave Morin, CEO of Path in response to Arun Thampi’s discovery. He clearly recognizes that it should not have been done, but he goes on to justify that they did this to help facilitate connections for the user. He goes on to talk about how important it is to reduce as much friction as possible in enabling people to do this matching with their friends. He goes as far as to describe it as being “important to the industry”. After reading the response, it seems very clear that Dave Morin is very genuine in his response, but what really caught my attention was the prioritization of social interaction over privacy. I don’t know Dave Morin, and I am not trying to pick on him. His response just seems to really highlight the transition we are seeing where people actually believe that any action that enhances our ability to engage socially should be of more value than some of our fundamental rights. Is this a result of our infusion of online social connectivity into every aspect of our lives?
So, my question is Where Are We Going? I am an enormous advocate of social media and value the ability to keep in touch with friends, interact during conferences, etc. I would never dispute the value those tools bring our lives. However, it is very important that we continue to recognize the value and importance of privacy. Regarding the question of which one is MORE important. The laws of this country have already made that decision for us.