News-wise, it’s almost as if 2021 told 2020 to ‘hold my beer’. In 15 days, this new year hasn’t offered any respite from the drama and anxiety that pervaded 2020, especially in the United States. I will not be rehashing or opining on any of the events that engulfed Washington DC last week, but it’s becoming clearer now that the aftershocks of the DC Riots will be far-reaching and will have a major impact on technology and free speech.
We all know now that President Trump’s Twitter feed has been silenced permanently along with many other of his social media accounts. The social media app, Parler, has been de-listed from its main app distribution sources, and the list of newly-banned/cancelled media outlets keeps growing. Free speech certainly has its limits (the classic yelling-fire-in-a-crowded-theater argument), but there may be some potentially dangerous precedent-setting going on here.
The fact is that private media companies who wield the preverbal “off button” may eventually introduce a chilling effect in the marketplace of ideas. If Facebook can arbitrarily determine that your posts are incitements and instantly block you, what happens to all the content you created and where else could you realistically go? If AWS decides to no longer carry your SaaS platform because an exec went of an ill-advised tirade about who-knows-what, what of all the jobs and IP accumulated after years of hard work and ingenuity?
This also demonstrates the vulnerability any company has that relies on their software or infrastructure-as-a-service provider to store all of their data of a certain type. Those that rely on Salesforce.com; what happens if Salesforce.com shuts your business off? What if all of your contacts are stored in your email system, and it freezes you out? What if your customer credit card numbers for recurring auto-billing are stored in a credit card processer platform that shuts down? What if one of these providers have all of your key data or e-signed agreements and they decide to ramp up their pricing thinking they are holding you hostage due to the complexity of your data interwoven with their systems? It happens. I’m not saying that Twitter and AWS did the wrong thing in the wake of the events of last week, but there is certainly a slippery slope here that merits much further discussion.
We believe a trend in 2021 will be (among the more risk averse companies) greater affinity to software and infrastructure-as-a-service companies that make it easy for you to migrate your data from their platforms (if needed) and back up data stored on their platforms externally (easily and often).
To our valued customers, I would like to inform/remind you that the RMail and RSign services do not need to store any info or data on the servers we use. Many of our competitors do force stored data. Registered Email™ e-delivery proof receipts, for example, are uniquely designed so that they may be authenticated and re-construct the original message without any third party storage.
Without data storage as a barrier to switching providers, we at RPost instead have a deep-held philosophy; freedom of provider choice, allowing users to feel like they can take their data and their business elsewhere if they are not satisfied with our feature-rich and more affordable services. This also forces us as a company to work harder to earn and keep your business because we will never hold your data hostage.
So in closing I wanted to make things a little more upbeat and share with you a bit of our team ‘manifesto’ for the new year 2021: We’re here for you, wherever you need us; whether accessed inside your favorite app, integrated to modernize a business system, or uniquely fitted using our API. We can’t be anything less than the best e-sign and e-security product with the best people and service to support you.
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