For most of the past few decades the environmental movement pushed companies and governments to adopt green policies and procedures. By and large, the response in the U.S. could best be described as begrudging.
In the last two years, a sudden, massive shift occurred as energy prices skyrocketed and awareness of global warming as a reality increased. Companies who previously were about as green as exhaust from a tailpipe became advocates for adopting environmentally responsible policies. And, less cynically, other companies were created or quickly adapted to the green movement and now provide products and services that either increase the supply of alternative energies or reduce the demand for them.
When doing the right thing is also a way to gain competitive advantage in a rapidly shifting marketplace, than you've got a formula for a wholesale change in thinking overnight. This means that same people who scoffed at even saying the term "green" in 2005 are paying millions of dollars to justify how green equals greenbacks today.
I think we're at the precipice of thinking about data privacy in a similar way. It may not be as dramatic as the green movement, and, unfortunately, it may require an inevitable huge data breach to propel the shift, but it will come, nonetheless. Put simply, this means that the companies that collect and control the vast amount of personal information on networks will begin to view their privacy policies as an offensive strategy rather than merely a defensive one.
Evidence of this came last week when Microsoft and Ask played the privacy card to knock Google and Yahoo...