2014 has been a year filled with privacy issues, hacks and data leaks. Some of the most memorable cases include the Snapchat hacks (which leaked around 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers in January, and about 100k images from users in October), the iCloud photo leaks (releasing about 500 private pictures of celebrities in August) and more recently, the infamous Sony hack (leaking personal data, emails, movie scripts and even copies of unreleased films from Sony Pictures Entertainment).
This last hack is still unfolding, and it’s not only impacting Hollywood’s world: last week, Snapchat’s business plans were disclosed through leaked emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who also happens to be on Snapchat’s board.
The saddened memo sent after that by Evan Spiegel left me thinking once more about the power of secrets, especially this sentence:
We keep secrets because we get to do our work free from judgment – until we’re ready to share it. We keep secrets because keeping secrets gives you space to change your mind until you’re really sure that you’re right.
That doesn’t only apply to corporate secrets: privacy is a fundamental right in everyone’s life and we should always fight hard to preserve it.
When I was in college, I was delighted every time there were news about the next version of Windows or the next announcement from Apple. I would eagerly consume any leaked information from the tech industry without thinking of the implications.
Now, especially through my direct involvement in software development, I understand how hurtful is to see a product leak before it’s ready for showtime. I’m sad every time personal pictures get exposed to the public. I’m horrified to see how some people use these hacks to threat and terrorize. It hurts companies, but more importantly, it hurts everyone.
We live in a connected world, we can share information and moments with friends and family living on the other side of the planet, we get to use new tools every day that help us do our work better and faster, and we are incredibly privileged to enjoy that kind of freedom. Privacy and freedom of speech should also be part of it.
I was surprised to see Sony cancelling the premiere of “The Interview”, it felt like the hackers were winning. I’m not even interested in watching the movie, but it felt very wrong just to think that it was going to be censored under these circumstances.
Fortunately Sony rescheduled the release, and just a few hours ago, they also announced that Google and Microsoft would start offering the movie on their video-on-demand services. I’m glad: terror shouldn’t drive our society. If only companies like Apple or Amazon also agreed to offer the movie, the message would be loud and clear: freedom of expression is non-negotiable.
2015 will be a year full of new challenges. As I write these words, thousands of people are working hard to improve the security of the tools we use in our daily lives. We might not be able to avoid every hack or leak, but we’ll definitely try. I hope to be part of the workforce that helps, and rest assured, we will fight until we win.
Image via Forbes