You Disclosed!

There is a new phrase out there.  It is “surveillance capitalism”.   It is the way many companies in the 21st century make their money. Google was one of the companies that developed it.  It wants to know all about you so it can show you targeted ads.  What is valuable today for many companies is information about you.  From grocery stores to tech companies, they all want information about you, and they are collecting it.  There are data brokers who will buy and sell your information.  These are private companies collecting data, like your location, your license plate information, and even your real estate information.  They organize the data to sell it.

Let us look at the 5 big tech titans.  Google and Facebook are really advertising companies that offer you free services so they can learn as much about you as possible so they can show you targeted ads and thus they make their money.  Amazon is also in the business of collecting data on you, so it can better run the Amazon store and sell you its many services.  And Microsoft is also collecting your data, but right now it is playing catch up.  Apple is a hardware company so it has less reasons to collect data on you but it still collects data to help lock you into its ecosystem.

Cell phones can easily track you and with GPS they track you down to about 16 feet.  For example, Google Maps is great for finding places, but that means Google knows exactly where you are.  I realized how much Google Maps tracks you, when I saw Google Maps on my smartphone accurately reporting the speed of my car in the middle of nowhere.  It made me realize that I am most likely always being tracked with my cell phone.  It seems to me that the cell phone is the biggest surveillance device around.  Here is a comic strip (Baldo) that drives home the point of “surveillance capitalism”.

In the last post, we saw all the surveillance that China uses on its citizens.  In the US, your surveillance data is available to the government but it does require a warrant or money to purchase it. It is legal for the government to buy surveillance data and there are plenty of companies collecting the data.  On the other hand, we also see that the police are more accountable due to all the cameras surveilling us today.

Is privacy a thing of the past?  What should our expectations be?  Should surveillance be regulated?  Or are we past the point of no return and we need to accept that we live in a transparent society where privacy is no longer an important value?  So how much privacy is really needed? Those are 21st century questions.

2 thoughts on “You Disclosed!

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