Google. Apple. Facebook. Microsoft: they are the brands that want the world to trust them with personal information, emails, photos, documents – yet they are now facing a battle to maintain that trust after disclosures that the US government was given access to their customers' data online via the Prism programme operated by the NSA.
The companies involved – Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple – vigorously deny giving the Obama administration backdoor access to users' internet information, but the potential damage to their brand reputation has left the companies floundering for a way to respond.
Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, professor of internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, believes there could be serious consequences for the collective reputations of all internet companies who have meticulously built their trade on trust.
He cites Amazon – not one of the companies involved in Prism – as a case in point when the company took the side of consumers after publishers protested about bad reviews. "It may have dissuaded someone to buy a book, but it instilled trust in Amazon which was far more important to it long-term," said Mayer-Schonberger. "If you violate that trust, it is difficult to re-establish. Even if it turned out to be a hoax, trust has been destroyed because everyone is talking about it."
He added: "These companies depend on their users being sufficiently trusting to give them personal data. Many of us are perfectly fine for these companies to use this information for their own commercial benefit, to place more relevant adverts on the right hand side, but we do not want it passed on to the government or to tax authorities for instance." Continue reading via The Guardian...