On Monday, I wrote about how most company decision-making processes, particularly those that generate the algorithms that shape our online lives, are extremely opaque.
Now I want to know: are there companies (of any kind) that you implicitly trust, or trust more than others? Discuss!
Consider the hypothetical: Company X could beat all their revenue estimates for 2020 but there is a 50% chance that they kill my child (with no penalty). What company would *not* take that bet?
I thought really hard about this and the only company I came up with was my credit union (Michigan State Federal Credit Union). They've had ample opportunities to screw me and haven't taken it. Silicon Valley or Wall Street firms would take that shot every day of the week.
So I guess I implicitly trust my credit union - everything else (like apple or gmail) I just have to hope our incentives are aligned. I fear the moment when those incentives with gmail get unaligned, because it's going to be a pain to migrate my email.
Vanguard was the first one that sprung to mind for me.
The obvious follow-up question is "trust them to do what?". You can't treat a corporation like a single person, with values and a pattern of behavior because they're huge conglomerates of people and processes. The corporation that moves heaven and earth to secure your data (which is really also their data) will watch blankly if you tearfully beg them not to bulldoze your house to build a datacenter, there is no moral identity there to trust or distrust as you would a human.
To the extent we can infer their internal processes and incentives we can say credit unions treat their customers better than commercial banks IN TERMS OF customer services and predatory account terms and rates, but whether their governance is corrupt or in bed with local government is just as random a chance as the local BoA branch.
Businesses whose entire existence relies on consumer trust in the service or product I am paying for are safer bets, but that's all that can be said. I trust Apple to secure iPhones more than Google secures Pixels because breaches of each would hurt Apple directly in their largest business, and annoy Google execs in that division, respectively.
Answering in the context of my own data, I think there are 2 kinds of trust...
1. Do I trust the company to apply moral standards and resist the lure of profits? eg Cambridge Analytica, Facebook - so intentional.
2. Do I trust the company not to screw up and leave my data open to theft/ misuse? For example, leaving unencrypted credit card details in an open AWS bucket. So incompetent.
For the Google’s and facebooks of this world, they fall into category 1. Apple is so far winning my trust and this is why i have stuck with them. Many insurers would use your personal data in a heartbeat if not for regulations which state they cannot. But they are the ones to watch as they are strongly incentivised to use your data for their own profitability.
Non-tech companies dabbling in big data, cloud computing and AI are the ones which are likely to fall into the latter category as they don’t have in-house depth of experience and will probably hire a contractor. When these guys leave, stuff falls through the cracks if the remaining team isn’t competent. Hard to know in advance as you only find out after the horse has bolted, but there are plenty of examples which have become public, so statistically speaking this risk has to be a lot more prevalent than people realise.
I for one welcome the day that Tim Berners-Lee’s Solid ecosystem gains traction.
As Michael said, Apple more than the other tech giants because they seem to at least talk about it. https://www.onemorething.nl/2019/07/apples-privacy-campagne-ook-in-duitsland/
It's likely mostly marketing though. These companies make money by knowing more about us. The incentives are all wrong for them not to.
Non-tech? I really don't trust grocery stores much. I'm pretty sure they're selling their sales data and someone has worked out how to link my family shopping to me, or as close as reasonable. Costco... I'm not sure about, but I suspect they know a ton about me and my shopping habits.
I don't trust Lowe's/Home Depot or just about any other retailer. Maybe Ace. They have a national system rewards program though and I suspect that they sell that data to make money to keep going. Who wouldn't? The problem is that now we have ways to combine that data in ways that were unheard of 10 years ago. I try not to think about it, but it makes me feel naked when a store knows that you're pregnant before you do. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/
I tend to trust companies recommended by people I trust. For instance, I signed up for a password manager, 1Password, based upon an unsolicited recommendation from https://twitter.com/JennyBryan on Twitter. I know I trust Jenny's work and advice in the R community, and therefore 1Password was the first place I went to look when I wanted to get a password manager.
I find the nature of 'trust' weird, for many companies.
I'm more likely to trust companies I directly pay. I'm the customer. If they do something I don't like, they stop getting paid.
When I get something for 'free', I know that I'm not the customer.
I 'trust' 1Password a lot. I have to trust the more now (that I can't sync local vaults as easily) than I really want to. But they hold the keys to everything, so I guess they're the company I trust the most.
Happily, I pay them.
Seventh Generation. I lived in Burlington for a good bit and I knew folks that worked there. They were not only a good company to work for, they were also very active in building coalitions and partnerships to increase environmental stewardship in the community and abroad. They're good people.
The situation in Europe might be different than in the US, but I feel people here are more reluctant to use US based services. Unfortunately, most great services are US based. Universities and science institutes ban the usage of Skype, Dropbox, GDrive, etc (basically any non-premise hosted cloud storage), because they want to keep the data in Europe and lower the risk of having their data stolen by foreign governments (at least that is my take on the bans?). (Side note: are companies in the US even aware of this issue? We cannot use dozens of services in my institute because they are US based).
Given that smartphones are ubiquitous to society, we must place trust in the distributing companies, although with a big grain of salt. I am very skeptical of US companies myself, especially after the whole Snowden story. Who can I trust, if I cannot trust the country with the Silicon Valley?
For me, it really boils down to: "Who do I trust more?". I have been using Android smartphones since 2009, but also fell in love with MacBooks in 2010. Now, for the first time, I am considering getting an iPhone. Why? Because I have more trust in Apple than in Google and Samsung or Huawei.Apple at least they tries to create the image of “we care for your privacy”. I do not know anything about the efforts of the other companies. We have to use smartphones, there is no way around this. So better use the one that seems to be the least harmful?
I suspect that as cynical as we all wish we were, there's a certain amount of trust embedded in our emotional attachments to different companies that we fail to recognize. Plus, there's different aspects of trust... Trust as a consumer vs. trust to influence society in a good way vs. trust as an employee? -