Are Users Control Freaks, or Are Developers Just Hard to Trust?

Control is really for when trust runs out. Developers need to drive their own change.

I read Facebook’s outside-expert blog series on privacy and sharing this morning, and I like the themes that emerged. That doesn’t mean the there aren’t some real warnings in those articles as well.

Here’s the take away for the TL;DR cohort out there: “Step up, or get what’s coming”.

Users are sick and tired of feeling used and if we don’t improve our collective privacy practices, government will do it for us (with a blunt object - think GDPR in the EU). Worse still, users are going to walk if your app doesn’t instill confidence.

The experts bring up several key themes that we absolutely agree with. For one, data portability is more complex than it looks. We’ve been highlighting that the bright line between “my data” and other people’s data is in fact wide and blurry, and that a better way of thinking about data is to describe shared rights and obligations between multiple people. Developers have rights in the data they derive from user interactions, as do the users themselves. The trick is to balance those rights and work collaboratively such that users are never surprised at how data is being used.

The other key observation is that small innovators are deeply impacted by the rules imposed on platforms. Limitations tied to APIs, mandatory data portability, and the potential for class-action lawsuits are all on the horizon if developers don’t act.

Developers need to be part of the privacy conversation. Developers need to regain user trust and make it a competitive advantage.

The Developers Alliance is active on both these fronts. We’ve spoken with members of congress, MEPS in the EU, and industry leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that the developer community isn’t forgotten as rules emerge. And we’re launching the Developers Trust Alliance; an initiative that promotes those developers that adopt a set of trust principles and best practices that will raise the bar for our whole community.

Our influence and effectiveness is only as strong as the energy of our membership. We welcome you to join these efforts.


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Bruce Gustafson
President & CEO