Privacy takes center stage

AnchorFree anticipates digital privacy, security and access concerns will escalate in 2014 as the following consumer trends take shape.

Shift to private and erasable social media: There is a shifting tide in social media, particularly with younger consumers, as users pull back from widespread, indiscriminate sharing and turn toward more private, temporal, one-to-one interactions. As consumers place more value on privacy and control over content, they are embracing new ways to share special moments with family and friends.

Other applications capitalizing on changing attitudes include SnapChat, which allows users to send photos and messages that disappear, Instagram that recently added private one-to-one messaging, and Whisper which allow users to engage with others anonymously.

Proliferation of mobile commerce: Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is booming. From instant local delivery of goods to music and movie downloads, more consumers are using their tablets and smartphones to shop whenever and wherever inspiration strikes, especially through wireless hotspots at coffee shops, airports and on the go. VPNs can help prevent credit cards and account logins from being hacked.

City-sponsored Wi-Fi growing in speed and popularity: Public Wi-Fi is no longer limited to the confines of a coffee shop or library. Many cities across the U.S. and around the world now offer municipal Wi-Fi for parks, streets and neighborhoods.

New York City recently announced the launch of what will be the nation’s largest outdoor Wi-Fi network, which will blanket 95 blocks in Harlem, and San Francisco is adding Wi-Fi to one of its busiest streets – Market Street. The free hotspot service follows Google’s installation of public Wi-Fi in San Francisco city parks. Public Wi-Fi is inherently less secure, so use of a VPN is highly recommended.

Accelerating spread of global and domestic Internet censorship and behavior tracking: As the Internet and social media become increasingly important tools for communication, sharing information and accessing news, a growing number of entities ranging from corporations to governments and other public institutions in the U.S. and overseas censor the Internet and monitor online behavior.

Millions of Internet users encounter blocked, censored or filtered content on social networks, video and music sites, streaming services and email providers in the workplace, at school, while traveling or by simply living in highly regulated countries. Fortunately, there are ways users can circumvent censorship and monitoring, gaining anonymous access to content, through the use of VPN services.

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