After more than two years of public fury aimed at Wall Street for pension funds lost and homes foreclosed, the tide is shifting to the opposite side of the country; the newest focus of the public’s outcry appears to be Silicon Valley. From loud questioning of Facebook’s privacy rules to the pending criminal charges that Google is facing in Germany, and U.S. Congressional mumblings about beefing up the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, it’s clear the public’s ire has found a new target.
This current wave of disapproval and uproar does not have the same fire as when Lehman collapsed and TARP funds were approved. That may be because these privacy issues have not had the same wide spread and disastrous financial effects, but it can also be attributed to how the industry has responded to the situation.
It seems technology companies have learned a thing or two from the finance industry’s recent public image whipping. Companies like Facebook are getting out in front of these issues, taking responsibility, and making changes for all to see (read more about CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent press conference here). At the same time, Google and Microsoft have joined privacy advocates to lobby for stronger laws to raise the standards around the personal information that both the government and corporations can have access to (read more here).
It is too late for Silicon Valley to avoid the public’s anger, but so far they have differentiated themselves from Wall Street with proactive responses, making much needed changes and positioning themselves as part of the solution.
By Alexandra Ames