It is a good topic you started! It is a misconception that Humane Tech is megacorp-focused. It applies equally well to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s). But because big tech is all across the board, they tick the most boxes with regards to tech harms, especially for those products/services that have ad-based business models.
Where it starts for SMB’s - like @Free mentions - is the awareness that they are oftentimes the enablers for Big Tech in their data collection schemes, and pushers of their ad-tech. In this way they are exposing their customers to their practices.
While @Free mentions SMB’s offerering free services, the issue goes much further than that. Out of convenience and cost considerations SMB’s of all kind - often unwittingly - expose both customers and employees, and even the company itself, to unprecedented levels of data collections. Examples:
- You want to know who’s on your website? In a few clicks you have Google Analytics up and running
- You want nice looking web UI? Add Google Fonts in a blink
- Don’t want to have your servers in-house? Amazon AWS to the rescue
- Email? Just use Gmail for all your B2B communication
- Forms, Docs, Spreadsheets, Design? Use Google, Microsoft, Adobe, etc. online office services
This way you give away absolutely everything that there is to know about your SMB, your employees and your customers away ‘for free’.
Most of these things can be easily avoided without adding too much cost and overhead. It requires a change of mindset first, followed by a prolonged strategy and operational policies.
I think most SMB’s do not realize the dangers of how they use tech this way. Is Amazon a potential future competitor in your branch of business? Better not expose your internals to them, then. Same with Google. They collect the data for countless purposes, starting with advertisers, but not limited to them. Your competitor can also buy insights on the market and Big Tech can anticipate your interesting moves.
Besides this there are much more aspects of Humane Tech that apply to SMB’s equally well:
- How transparent is (the way you conduct) your business?
- Are you honest in the UI’s your customers use, or do you trick them (e.g. dark patterns)?
- What’s your policy regarding Inclusiveness and Diversity?
- What are the opportunities you offer to your employees, are your contracts fair?
I am often surprised when I see new product launches, where I cannot discern how the company is earning their money, what data is collected, or even who is behind the product. In the US you encounter this most. “Hey, install our cool app, it does this and that”. And many people do that, even though literally zero info is known about what’s behind it. Could be created by a hackers collective that’ll crack open your entire system, for all we know.
Bringing the discussion back to this community - because we’ve had similar discussions many times before: The discussions and info in this forum is a raw body of work. It is not very useful if we keep it unprocessed, as old topics tend to be forgotten over time.
We are going to collect and improve all this information and offer it on clean website sections, so the checklists and best-practices we compiled can be processed easily by SMB’s that want to improve. And we will point out the unique selling points that will come with them. It is not just a cost drain, but there is real benefit in being Humane Tech oriented.
You can read our plans in Who we are, What we do, And how YOU ❤ can help Humane Technology too ! and of course we invite you dearly to become an activist and help with all of this.