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Surveillance capitalism

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by mrochester, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. mrochester

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 29, 2003

    Posts: 4,936

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    For a number of years now I have moved away from using products and services that see me as a free resource to feed their surveillance capitalism machines.

    I have been blasted, trolled and shot down a number of times in forums since taking this stance, yet it appears the world is slowly starting to wake up to what I’ve believed all this time and people are finally starting to question the legitimacy of companies such as google and Facebook taking their data for free and using it to generate income for themselves and their commercial partners without sharing the wealth with us users.

    Is there any one else on this forum patiently waiting for the rest of the world to ‘wake up’ to the realisation that this is a very dangerous business model and to begin to reject it the way I have already done?

    I’m very pleased that scandal after scandal is beginning to hit to shine a very bright spotlight on these companies and their business practices. It’s a shame, however, that it’s going to take government regulation to stop this instead of people choosing not to partake in these business practices. Are people just unaware of how these companies operate? Is more education needed so that people understand the nature of the transaction they are making with google et al so that they can see how they are being used?
     
  2. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 61,161

    I don't think there is a mass consciousness of it or a "waking up" society seems generally sleep walking into their lives being more and more regulated, used by corporations as a product and those that don't conform, that aren't just undiscerning consumers happy to chase their own tail marginalised with less and less room for individuality.
     
  3. mrochester

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 29, 2003

    Posts: 4,936

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    I agree people are sleep walking into conformity.

    There seems to be a big push at the minute towards ‘personalised’ content (I.e., an algorithm programmed by a commercial entity that tells you what to watch/read/listen to). This to me is a very undesirable outcome as it gives these commercial entities all the power to decide what people see or hear and you can be sure they’ll be ‘recommending’ whatever makes them the most money.

    People are essentially becoming a free resource to these giant entities with many, especially in tech circles, actively cheering this on.

    Edit - although I highly suspect those cheering on their own demise are doing so because it’s the anti-Apple agenda they must religiously stick to.
     
  4. StriderX

    Capodecina

    Joined: Mar 18, 2008

    Posts: 17,472

    People are only pushed into conformity if they want it, they want to be part of a group so they don’t feel left out and so live a fantasy rather than a life.

    It’s extemely cynical, but most people are facsimiles, the internet just makes it easier for them and for others to abuse them.
     
  5. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,251

    Location: Plymouth

    The op comes across as a bit weirdo conspiracy to be honest, because you create a false dichotomy between being ignorant of trading knowledge for service and not doing it at all.

    I understand how the data I provide is harvested and used, which is why I make sure I'm happy with the value I get back from it.

    If I'm not happy with the trade, then I'll choose not to use that particular service. Some companies use the mountains of data provided very well (netflix and spotify spring to mind here), others don't. It simply isn't as straightforward as 'usage data collection bad'
     
  6. jsmoke

    Soldato

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 6,891

    When the masses are starving to death people will complain?

    I can't say I understand the macro picture in capitalistic economics. For example groups of people get very rich such as Google and FB but does that necessarily mean others get poor(er), is that how it works?

    They make their money largely from ad agencies and the ad agencies make their money from the companies and the companies from us but then the economy is expanding. Do the central banks not increase the money supply, hence more money in the system so some get richer but others don't necessarily get poorer?

    I'm rambling a bit. I'm sure somebody can clear this up better.

    Basic economics. If I start a restaurant in city A and gain so many customers does that mean other restaurants nearby lose profits. Not necessarily if I used a bank loan to open my restaurant as every new loan creates new money in the supply, fractional banking.

    So you need new businesses to continue to grow the economy but people getting rich doesn't have to mean others getting poorer. Many variables involved.

    Things like offshore tax havens are a real problem though, and other tax avoidance schemes where companies are essentially storing their money under their mattresses so the banks can't use it.

    So you need to understand how economics works, a key point that people don't realise is that the money supply in always increasing or decreasing so it's not like there is a fixed amount and people are hording it. Their businesses are creating wealth. It's their responsibility to pay their taxes, invest and employ as many as they can all over the country/world.

    Also most of these people are rich in shares or other assets, not hard cash. It can be a problem when the money revolves around certain circles though with no trickle down/around.
     
  7. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 29,656

    I understand perfectly how Google uses information form me to target marketing and develop their internal services, in exchange I get good products and services for free. this is a perfectly reasonable exchange for me and I am happy.
     
  8. mrochester

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 29, 2003

    Posts: 4,936

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    Are you happy that they algorithmically decide what to show you? Are you not concerned that your autonomy is being slowly eroded because google machines are deciding what you should see instead of making that decision yourself? How are you sure google are acting in your interests and not in their own?

    You have given yourself up as a free resource to google. Your data is valuable, you should at least be asking to be paid for the data google are taking from you that they profit so handsomely from. Even better, they should not be taking that data with the aim of profiting from it. There is no reason google need your data to make money they could simply charge a fee for the service.
     
  9. D.P.

    Caporegime

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 29,656

    No, saves me the time searching through pointless headlines and useless products. I am still free to make my own informed searches.

    No, Google doesn;t prevent me making the decisions myself, Google merely helps save time.

    I know Google is acting in their own interests and not mine. I am perfectly happy with that because I get tangible benefits.

    No, I consciously decided that Google having access to my information is a fair trade for the service I receive without cost.

    I am paid, I get to use Google's services without cost.

    Why not? As you said above, data is valuable so why shouldn't a company make profit form it? The world would be a very strange place if companies could never make a profit.

    And how many people would dump Google like a sack of potatoes and move on to some other free service/ But this is false anyway, part of what makes Google so powerful is because the data integration. Google maps, calendars, emails all linked together. Google calendar gets automatically populated with evens form emails such as a flight, Google Now can then warn me that traffic is bad to get to the airport and I should leave early. When I arrive Google maps knows where my hotel is and can direct me there, while on the train Gogole calendar can remind me of the call with director of marketing in 10 minutes. this is all fantastic, makes my life much easier and more productive, and I am perfectly happy that google anonymously processes this data.
     
  10. mrochester

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 29, 2003

    Posts: 4,936

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    You need to separate the notion of google collecting data to make cool things happen from google collecting data to sell advertising. They are different issues with conflicting interests.

    If you paid google a fee for their products and services then the data you give them could be used solely for your benefit (I.e., making cool things).

    However, because google also profits from the data you give them, they are highly incentivised to create maximum return on that data, even if it is NOT in your interests for them to do so. Suddenly your ‘cool stuff’ is not so cool because google have deliberately and subtely manipulated you without you even knowing and you are being recommended/directed to things that make google the most money. At this point you have become a free resource to Google’s prediction machine that generates them so much income. The balance is heavily waited in their favour and you barely asked for anything in return from them.

    The true issue is that people don’t realise how valuable their data is because they don’t understand that google et al see their data as a form of currency. People understand how money works because they can see the tangible value of it but so far have vastly underestimated just how valuable their data is.

    Luckily that appears to be starting to change and we are seeing legislation come in that puts people in far greater control of their data.

    It would be great if we got to the point where people could choose to sell their data and actually receive an income in return for that.
     
  11. ttaskmaster

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Sep 11, 2013

    Posts: 7,882

    Location: Reading, UK

    The government and ruling elite will make money from it one way or another, so there will be various methods to turn everyone into purely conformist faceless drones devoid of personality, purpose, function or anything else. You will be a network address and nothing more. Accept your fate now and sink into the collective, before they force it on you.
     
  12. mrochester

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 29, 2003

    Posts: 4,936

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    I liken giving your data to google in exchange for an email service to working for free because you get free food from the canteen.

    In both cases the organisation you are doing business with is profiting massively from you and you get barely anything in return.

    Much like time is a resource you own to sell your data is a resource you own to sell. Giving your data away for free to these surveillance capitalists makes people look very foolish indeed.

    Talk about being used and abused by big business!
     
  13. jsmoke

    Soldato

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 6,891

    This one is really simple to solve, simple read their t & c's carefully and if you don't like what you read then don't use them. They are a free service and it costs 100's of millions of $ to run a platform such as Google, if they are guilty of anything it's not making it in-your-face clear that they are using your data totsell to ad companies althouth it will be in the small print.
     
  14. mrochester

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 29, 2003

    Posts: 4,936

    Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

    They also don’t indicate how much money they make from you so you cannot make an informed decision about whether to use the service or not.

    If you knew google made £5 pm from your personal data but a competing service from another provider cost £1 pm with no advertising tracking then you can make an informed decision about whether to save £1 pm and let google profit £5 from your personal data or deny google your data and the £5 profit and give your £1 to the competitor who doesn’t take your data for advertising purposes.

    It’s interesting that people can probably give a value on how much their time is worth but probably can’t value how much their personal data is worth. Many don’t yet see their personal data as a commodity they own and that they should have complete say over how it’s used.
     
  15. BowdonUK

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 17, 2016

    Posts: 1,746

    It always makes me laugh when people get filmed in public and flip out about it, yet they go on their computers and don't even think of all the information they give away.

    I don't think most people actually think of the bigger picture. They don't think about the issues outside of their own small world of family and friends. They will go along with what they feel is the current trends of the day, we see evidence of that with all these challenges, face and body augmentations etc.

    In another thread I mentioned about voting in elections. How these companies are always encouraging people to vote. Yet we know that if you have to be encouraged to vote then you 1. aren't passionate about the subject, and/or 2. know maybe nothing about the subject. The people who promote mass voting knows this and they can control what people see as the trends of the day.

    I think wanting to conform as gotten worse in my opinion. The lack of objective thinking is also worrying.
     
  16. jsmoke

    Soldato

    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 6,891

    It's a fair point however Google make the best products, search engine, yt and whatever else. But it's a fair point from a competitive business point of view. They've hogged the market for a long time. It has been said that the CIA helped start Google in the beginning as a surveillance platform so who knows what role they may still play.
     
  17. Evangelion

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 29, 2007

    Posts: 21,435

    Location: Adelaide, South Australia

    Dolph in sensible comment shocker. I agree.
     
  18. efish

    Hitman

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 879

    A close relative of mine was part of the legal negotiating team for the U.K, which drafted the first proposed legal changes.

    Take out the rhetoric, which is prone to the dramatic, its clear from the comments the legal debate is being tracked by the commentator.

    Style over substance issue.
     
  19. Donnie Fisher

    Gangster

    Joined: Jun 22, 2018

    Posts: 209

    Could you put an actual value your personal data ? I doubt many people could. ( Maybe that'll be the next EU bill ... all companies must put a value personal data)

    I feel in general that the notion of targeting adverts to the tastes of individuals isn't so bad really ... but how they do it at the moment always seems at step behind. i.e. the ads that appear are for stuff you've already looked at and dismissed.

    As for the likes of facebook ... i'm finding that the algorithms are bugging me more and more. There are 4 devices in the house that can each log into my facebook account ... each one shows a different bias of stories and updates ... Taht really annoys me that the feed is being manipulated. I just want to see the latest posts from friends in the order that they were made so that I can chose what to look at and not a robotic guess.

    As for the OP, I wouldn't go as far as ditching everything. I think that the issue is the general ignorance of people. If you are aware of the uses, then you can act accordingly to your own preferences.
     
  20. efish

    Hitman

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 879

    Not just ignorance, a lot of the comments here are typical of America and the U.K.

    Cultural and historical.

    Its not viewed as a problem or problematic.

    One key factor underlining the E.U looking at legislation here is Germany. Many people including those working in the German legal system grew up in East Germany and lived in a police state with insane levels of surveillance.

    Different attitude to the issue as peoples life experience here is very different from our own.

    Reflected in German data protection law.

    Shaped by those who experienced living in a highly regulated and highly intrusive state.