So, what is surveillance capitalism? In essence, surveillance capitalism describes a market-driven process where the commodity for sale is your personal data. The capture and production of this data rely on mass surveillance of the internet. It’s often carried out by companies that provide us with free online services, like search engines and social media platforms.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation published their report: “Behind the Mirror: A Deep Dive into the Technology of corporate surveillance”, earlier this month.
Jack Schofield refers to this report in his article last week.
The article, in summarising the report, describes how personal data is collated and exploited to server targeted adverts/messages/subliminal suggestions.
You can limit this to an extent by stopping tracking cookies (which follow you from site to site) but the “real world identifiers” (name, email phone number) follow you wherever you go.
The Guardian article goes through the pros and cons of browser and browser extension choices, but these will only have a limited effect.
Surveillance – how are you being tracked?
Clever tech can map you as you go to swipe your loyalty card in your favourite coffee shop or before tapping your debit card as you get on the tube. Aggregate these kinds of metrics and data: the potential of this information “bank” is alarming. Legislation such as the EU GDPR or Californian CCPA are the small/first steps in the right direction but the truth is that far more rigorous regulation is the real way to stop this growth.
Asking technology companies to handicap their apps so they can’t mine data and make enormous profits is a bit like… well, turkeys voting for Christmas!
There is a follow-up article from the same source which goes into greater detail on the well-known search engine DuckDuckGo – and explains that is not as simple as just changing search engine.
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