Email was never an extremely secure medium, but today, it’s as insecure as your “private” Facebook page. In other words, it’s open to any hacker or government agency that wants to get inside. But what does that mean for business owners and the marketing guys that serve them?
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably aware that the US government is currently spying on you and the rest of its citizens by accessing private and corporate email accounts in mass, and it may have a tremendous effect on American businesses and the marketers that serve them.
Why Businesses Are Paranoid of Spying
IT and security experts are paranoid, but it’s not because American businesses are often breaking laws. However, it is true that unlawful businesses have a lot to fear. The real problem is that this kind of spying occurs without warrants, which means a judge doesn’t have to determine if it’s actually necessary to access your email. And a judge won’t be there to make sure that government agents did not abuse their powers when accessing your data. Normally, judges keep tabs on law enforcers that spy on citizens, but today, nobody is monitoring the depth or breadth of information that is accessed.
The National Security Agency and its partners may access your digital data without restraint, and this wouldn’t be such a big deal if governments always acted in ways that benefit their citizens. But like people, governments are open to corruption, so all it takes is one corrupt NSA agent to start auctioning off your data to the highest bidder. Then, your company secrets are out on the open web.
How Businesses Will Respond to Digital Spying
The way that companies and consumers react to this news can have a major impact on the way that marketers, like me, do business. It’s easy to imagine the following reactions.
+ As it was before the ‘00s, face-to-face encounters, including video calls, may become the standard way of meeting with clients. Of course, traditional phone calls will continue to occur as often as they do now, but I imagine that anyone that wants to hide behind an email will come off as an amateur or uninformed. A marketer that understands the value of a client’s privacy will be more important than ever, so email will not be the standard way of discussing company secrets.
+ Email marketing may get harder, especially B2B email marketing. If companies and their customers stop relying on email so much, it will be harder to reach them via email because that’s not where they will be. Private forms of communication, such as custom IM software, may become rather common at big corporations. There are probably more practical ways of working around email, but that’s a topic for another article.
+ If email marketing gets harder, social-media marketing may get easier. I know what you’re thinking, “doesn’t social media have the same vulnerabilities as email?” Yes, it does, but social media is not often used to discuss and share company secrets. From the most successful CEOs to the greenest interns, we will all continue our use of social media even if we all abandon email. And just like email, a marketer can easily message a list of Facebook fans and Twitter followers with special offers and sale flyers, so you can think of your social-media profiles as replacements to the holiness of your email list.
+ If email is no longer secure and private, email service providers that offer a truly private experience will go out of business. That’s exactly what’s happening to companies like Silent Circle, which has officially closed its doors because the National Security Agency has made it impossible for the company to deliver on its promise to offer a truly secure and private email experience.
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