There have been a few whispers in recent articles about apps and services where your content can be given an expiration date. Perhaps as little as 10 seconds from the time it is opened, such as with SnapChat, an app released in late 2012 that has been rapidly adopted by the under 20 market, mostly in high-schools in the U.S. and Canada and is now edging into the 20-30 demographic. With SnapChat, you can send a photo to someone and 10 or so seconds after it’s viewed, it deletes. You can save the image, but the sender is notified and so far, it is considered a major faux pas to save an image.
The other similar app seeing some growth is Wickr, but this service is a more comprehensive one enabling the deletion of photo’s, text, audio and video and controllable via DropBox, Google Drive and Box.
But Will These Services Take Off?
Definitely. They will become an invaluable tool to corporations, government departments and the average consumer who wants to be sure they aren’t leaving a trace to embarass them in later years. The revenue model will likely evolve over time, they are free right now, but it is likely people will pay a premium for privacy protection and security at the right price. As is typical with cyber products, they will have a free version and charge from there. We wont find people using these tools all the time, a large part of placing content online is to keep it there, partly due to ego and the desire to be noted amongst our social groups or to attract followers and viewers.
What Are The Implications? Legal and Privacy?
We see a few issues beyond the obvious benefits of safety and security. For governments and public companies, there is no audit trail. This could present issues in relation to Sarbanes-Oxley and organisations required to keep such records. This might put a limitation to corporate/enterprise sales of such products. They will certainly fuel the privacy debate. Repressive regimes and even those on the edge of allowing freedoms may deny or limit their use (e.g. Iran, Bahrain, Belarus, Moldova etc.) For hacker sites and sadly for child pornography creeps they will be able to share content easily and possibly locations of content in the deep web. So these services pose some challenges as well as many benefits.
What do you think about these services? Good, bad, necessary?