We want to make sure that security experts can get a hold of us when they discover new ways to abuse our service so that we can respond quickly to address those concerns.
It’s comforting that Snapchat is making itself available to researchers who want to point out flaws in its code. But it is not saying how it will respond to those researchers — and whether it is changing anything about its internal error-handling system to make sure that a security vulnerability does not remain in place for months, as happened in this case.
And this, I think, gets to the heart of the issue in the Snapchat hack. Reasonable people can differ about whether or not this hack was so bad. But I really can’t see how Snapchat’s handling of this issue should inspire confidence that it can appropriately manage the data it wants us to send through its system.
Just a few weeks ago, I called Snapchat a potentially revolutionary app because it is offering something that has been sorely lacking on the Internet: privacy. Privacy is Snapchat’s entire sell — the whole reason it holds itself up as different and superior to companies like Facebook, which thrive on public, non-private data.
But if Snapchat wants us to think of it as the privacy company, it needs to convince us of its bona fides. It needs to honestly, deeply explain what it does to protect users' data, how it fell down here, and what it has learned, and plans to change, in light of this attack.
Until the company does that, I’ll continue to call on people to quit snapping.
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