There is no such thing as a free lunch…. There is no such thing as a free App…There is no such thing as a free Internet Service…

Posted: July 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

brownbaglunch1
 

Everything has its price and we live in a world where information is valuable. When someone gives you a sandwich you may help them with chores around the house or do some yard work or a little bit of consulting on the side – this is how you are paying for your lunch.

Free apps, games, search engines, cloud storage, email hosts, etc. are not as straight forward and instead of asking you for your help in exchange for using their services, they tell you how they are helping give you better services, easier to use services, faster services without being equally as up front with you about how you are making them money in exchange.

Internet Advertising is a big business and from January through March of 2013 there was over $9.6 billion U.S. generated. Yes, there are many hard working people being employed by these companies, but they are just that, companies making many billions of dollars profit each year by giving you “free” apps and services.

Better disclosure and labeling of these services, apps and utilities are need today

  • They are not “free”
  • They track you browser use and history
  • They decipher your internet patterns
  • They read your emails
  • They use your GPS/location to track your real world activities
  • They monitor what files you store on their cloud, how and where you access them as well as what the files contain

All of this is done so that they can

  • Get their app on your computing device and prevent you from using other competing services
  • Send you ads based on what is in your inbox, outbox and sent folders
  • Gain huge margins for direct marketing to you

Problems associated with installing these “free” apps

  • Increased app and device crashes
  • Markedly decreased battery life on portable computers and phones
  • Increased internet browser pop-ups
  • Reduce the visibility of web pages you visit
  • Increased de-sensitivity to installing apps from unknown publishers
  • Increased probability to installing adware, malware, virus’ and trojans

 

Misconceptions

  • I don’t pay any form of currency (money) for the app, toolbar, email service, search engine, etc. and therefor it doesn’t cost me anything –
    • Consumers are paying for these services in shorter battery life on phones, tablets, laptops, ie: a free game with ads uses 3x more battery than the game itself.
    • Consumers are paying for these services and apps by time and frustration when your device or apps crash
    • Games which have ads are using your internet connection to download these ads and your cellular provider charges you based on how much internet you consume
    • Anonymous – While your name may be separate from your data, they know where you live, where you work, where you stop to get your daily coffee, have lunch 4 times a week, shop for clothes and they even know what deodorant you use.

      Each anonymous user is now using one service in their home, office, phone, tablet – in fact, they even get you to login with your personal account when you use someone else’s computer – 24/7 surveillance and monitoring

      And soon these “driverless” cars will also be collecting more data about you and what you do and will soon use this and other data to direct you to business’ not because it is best for you or what you need, no, it’s because they are getting paid to send you there.

What changes are needed?

  • Consumers need to be told up front the potential risks involved with installing apps
  • Consumers need to be told up front the that using their service is
  • Consumers need to be given a simple and upfront method to removing the installed service back to the previous system state
  • Service providers need to have reasonable method for consumers to receive technical support in the use, maintenance and removal of the service/apps
  • Apps need to disclose how much internet data is being transferred to/from a device via it’s WAN connection
  • Apps and services that use GPS and positioning need to have an icon which clearly shows when and for how long the GPS is being used
  • When a user is not actively using said app, it needs to also halt all GPS and position tracking, internet usage and ads must also pause to conserve battery as well as privacy
  • All companies and persons which generate income/revenue from a computer service, internet service, app or utility supported by ads or any type of data mining should have to fully disclose the following
    • How much revenue they expect to generate monthly and yearly by your use of the app or service
    • The percentage of revenue generated by their “free” services
    • The global revenue they generate

Alarmist?

I am not trying to start a war against free services, I think that many people enjoy the benefits they are receiving from services such as Google, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, web toolbars as well as downloadable tools and utilities.

But for these companies and business’ to call their services “free” is dishonest and devalues services and apps which truly are free or are being paid for by other operating systems, apps and services you have already purchased into.

Truly Free Services and alternatives

A majority of internet traffic and web use is generated by people using services they are not paying for directly, but they are getting paid every time you use their app or service. Collectively we call these services free, but internet business generate billions of dollars each year.

$9.6 billion was generated from January through March 2013 from internet advertising and year over year this amount is increasing by 18% year over year.

Choice

Consumers need to know they have choices each and every time they use the internet, World Wide Web, check their email, write and email, use a search engine, send a text message on their phone or update their profile on a social network play a game on their phone or tablet.

Not all services are created equal and not all services are up front with the consumers, the people, who rely on these services daily and what these companies do with your data, or how they affect the long term and short term use of your computer, your smartphone, your tablet or fancy new car.

Eyes wide open

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