Service of Cart Before the Horse: Corporations Collaborate When Foolproof Locks on Internet Security Don’t Exist

August 16th, 2018

Categories: Banking, Corporations, Data, Internet Security, Mobile Wallets, Social Media

Thank goodness all giant corporations aren’t leaping into bed together to share respective expertise and information although some are inching in that direction and others are raring to go. It won’t be long.

But first a digression: In arriving at the topic for this post I counted seven fuzzy attributions in one newspaper article. Isn’t that a lot? Laced throughout a recent front page article in The Wall Street Journal I read: “According to people familiar with the conversations; the people said; a person familiar with the discussions said; some of the people said; said people familiar with the matter; some of the people said and people familiar with the matter said.”

Nevertheless I believe the topic is valid and am troubled by its implications. The title and subtitle: “Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users. Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers as it seeks to boost user engagement data.”

Reporters Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and AnnaMaria Andriotis wrote that Facebook had spoken with people at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp “to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger.” Facebook Messenger is a messaging app and platform.

What did “people say” about the conversations? “Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts.” In addition, “Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger.” Messenger has 1.3 billion active monthly users according to the reporters.

Timing could be better for this outreach. The reporters reminded readers about current investigations in which Cambridge Analytica accessed data on some 87 million Facebook users without user OK. “‘We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,’ [Facebook] spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. ‘We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.’”

Banks are tempted by the digital reach and doing business with online platforms with healthy and growing businesses. Even though Facebook has introduced what it says are safety features, “Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use.”

While PayPal and Square have beaten banks to the punch in the world of mobile commerce many customers continue to be comfortable with traditional ways of paying such as credit and debit cards, cash and checks.

Some deals between big players are already struck though I question their purpose: American Express members can reach a rep through Facebook. [Why would you need to do that?] Paypal users can send money through Facebook Messenger and Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet lets customers place online orders with some merchants.

Before all these mergers of communications, customers and data happen, shouldn’t there first be a firm grasp on digital customer privacy? Why are we becoming so lazy: Is it so onerous to check a balance on your bank’s website that you need Facebook do it for you? Can you believe that AmEx members can’t reach out to a company rep but instead need Facebook to do it for them? These “benefits” appear to potentially favor everyone but the consumer—do you agree?  Do you pay for things via mobile wallet, credit or debit cards, cash or checks? And last, does an article with more than a few generic attributions disturb you?

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4 Responses to “Service of Cart Before the Horse: Corporations Collaborate When Foolproof Locks on Internet Security Don’t Exist”

  1. Protius Said:

    In the spring of 1945, Harry Truman became President of the United States. Suddenly he found himself, even though he had only known in the vaguest way before then about the work being done to create the atom bomb, making the most profound moral, scientific decision certainly of the 20th century, perhaps in the history of western civilization up until then, whether or not to use the bomb as an instrument of war?

    I don’t fault his decision. It is probably the one I would have made had I known what he knew at that time. Rather, I use it to illustrate the dimensions of the dilemma facing all of us as we adapt to life with the internet.

    The internet grew like an out-of-control California wildfire, and its inventors seem to have little thought to security, privacy and regulatory issues as it grew. All the talk now about anti-hacking and privacy protection is talk and nothing more. No red-blooded marketer is going to be left behind as ever more detailed information is sucked from its billions of users.Now, there is not a chance they will surrender it to appease privacy seekers. It is too late.

    Our options seem to be:

    To start over again with a new secure system. This is unlikely. Who is going to pay for it?

    To live with what we have, resign ourselves to a gold fish bowl existence, and submerge into a
    new underclass of consumers/vassals. This is most likely, and while degrading, relatively
    painless, at least in the beginning.

    To rebel and stop using the internet. A few may try, but in the past such anti-societal
    behavior has always been crushed.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I fear that there is nobody at the helm today with the same sense of trying to get arms around the options involved with controlling Internet security as President Truman did about the bomb issue.

    Gleefully the large corporations are permitted to meet in a playpen without a bit of oversight. Few, if any, in power are considering the ramifications of next steps.

    The way this country is divided we’d never get everyone or most of us to agree to one line of action, a boycott. There’s no way that we will all stop using the Internet even for one hour on a Saturday night. Someone will want to buy a shirt; see what’s happening on Facebook or Instagram; watch a video; pick up the assignment for Monday; respond to a blog post…..

    I hear the morning traffic and transportation reports in NYC. Millions who depend on the L subway that’s about to be undergoing repairs for years will have no convenient way to get to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan. The impact on Williamsburg, a once hot real estate market, has been to lower real estate values big time. And think of the millions who drive to work using the Lincoln Tunnel. One of the major arteries to the tunnel is about to be taken out of commission for a few years. I have no clue how all those people–commuters and truckers who work or deliver to the city–will make out. The other bridges and tunnels will limp under the strain for sure. Take the train you suggest? New Jersey Transit hasn’t been hacking it all summer, cancelling up to 20 scheduled trains in one day.

    Should we go with option ONE that you suggest, we’d have similar strokes in the systems as NYC is finding with its subway and tunnel closing. Commerce and learning would be crippled while bits and pieces of the Internet are constructed from scratch.

    In summary: What a mess.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    If my bank informs me that further contact must go through the likes of FaceBook and/or any like entity, I will be looking for a new bank. If enough people take that stance, banks will have to back peddle in order to stay alive.

  4. Anonymous Said:


    I agree with you but we weren’t called “a nation of sheep” for nothing!

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