Surveillance Capitalism?


by Karl Denninger, Market-Ticker:

Oh, so now we’re searching for ways to make it “nice sounding”?

Because the business model of many of these tech firms relies on selling ads, their relentless focus is on gathering data on their users – that would be you – to enable advertisers to better target their messages.


This intense data-gathering of your most intimate decisions – where you go, who you talk to, what you like or don’t like – is only going to get worse. With new “home assistants” like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, Big Tech is now right at the heart of family life.


Who owns all this data and what will happen to it? Quite apart from the sheer creepiness of tech companies wanting to invade your brain, we know from recent experience that literally everything can be hacked – whether by criminals or foreign governments like China that hacked our own government and stole millions of Americans’ most personal data.

Think about this.

A few decades ago abortion became legal nationally.  Why?  The Supreme Court didn’t legalize murder.  What it found was that there was a fundamental right to have a private conversation with a physician, and to make a private decision about health.

This was not (and is not) an unlimited right, as no right ever is.  I have the right to keep and bear arms, but not to shoot people who are not intending imminent felonious harm to me.

The problem with these tech companies is that none of them told you the truth about what they intend to do with the data they collect, they’re coercive in their alleged “transaction” in that there is no opportunity to bargain — it’s a “take it leave it” deal and, much worse, there is no real option or choice between firms either.  Apple collects your data and so does Google, and both sell it.  What other alternative is there for a ‘smartphone’ than these two?  Windows phone and BlackBerry 10 both failed.


Because, in no small part, the cartel-like behavior of Apple and Google.

Why is a “take it or leave it” sort of deal acceptable?  Why do a pair of large companies get to dictate the terms on which 330 million people in the United States and several billion worldwide communicate?  Why is it that their executives are not imprisoned immediately if they lie, either by omission or commission, about the data they collect, who they sell it to and to what purposes it can be — and is — put?

Do you really think that insurance companies, for example, don’t buy this data and use it?  They sure do.  Amazon has been caught pricing the same product differently based on data they got from other places.  Who sold that data to them?  Where did it come from?  Who collected it?  How much of it tracks back to your cellphone and various tech firms?  How do you know none of their apps have your mic on when you haven’t explicitly requested it for some reason like dictating a message?

In short, why do you put up with this crap America?  Are you really stupid enough to put a microphone in your house that is connected to some faceless corporation when no large firm’s executives have been charged with criminal wrongdoing and sent to prison even when the firms they run are caught stealing billions from their customers over the last several decades?  Why would you ever believe any of these companies would not do anything they thought would make them a buck no matter how hard you got screwed as a consequence?

Then there’s the COPPA issue — these firms all allow kids as young as 13 to use their services and all of them know, factually, that younger children are doing so too even though it’s explicitly illegal to collect data on those under 13.

Then there’s this: Those under 18, with a few exceptions for life-necessary acts, cannot contract.  Therefore a teenager under 18 cannot agree to sign away their private rights because they are considered intellectually incompetent to understand the implications of the deal.  “The deal”, of course, assumes that these firms accurately and fully explain exactly what they’re going to do with the data and then never misuse it, which I remind you has never happened in their history.

Those who exploit children are routinely locked up — except when they’re big companies like Apple and Facebook, and then we don’t.  Ever.  Even if they exploit adolescents who they know are emotionally compromised due to age and hormonal imbalances inherent in people of that age bracket.

Never mind Facebook which created a service explicitly for those under 13 and that didn’t get Zuckerpig indicted either!

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