Why This Site
Surveillance Capitalism is no secret. We all know that companies track us in order to deliver targeted ads and sell us products. What we may not know is the darker side: how many of those companies are tracking us, and how aggresssivey.
It may sound paranoid, but it's actually a credible fact that entire companies exist simply to collect your data and build profiles on you, and in their minds the ends will always justify the means. Often they collect data in ways that range from questionable to straight-up illegal, collecting information that no sane person would willingly consent to, but they do it in ways you can't detect. When your deepest, most personal secrets are a data point for a marketing agency, abuse of any kind is only a small step away, as could be seen in 2019 when the Egyptian government tracked opponents and activists through phone apps, the Moroccan government spied on the phones of human rights defenders, and the Chinese government hacked Asian telecommunications companies to spy on the Uighur, a minority Muslim ethnic group living in China.
It sounds far-fetched, like something from a dystopian sci-fi movie, but just a few of the factual methods of data collection include using high-pitched tones that only electronic devices (aka phones) can hear to report how many people are watching a TV show, collecting sale information, tracking your search history, tracking your car as you drive through the real world, tracking your phone as you browse the store to see where you spend the most time, collecting your DNA from family heritage testing services, selling your information to public data websites, government agencies selling your driver's license information, and more.
"Wow," you may say, "that's intense. But why should I care? I have nothing to hide."
Why Care About Privacy
- Laws are not an indicator of morality. The 13th Ammendment, abolishing slavery in the United States, was not ratified until December 6, 1865. Despite this, segregation legally continued until the 1960s and racial issues continue to be fought in courtrooms today. Obergefell v Hodges made same-sex marriage legal in the United States in 2015 but this issue is still being fought in many jurisdictions.
- The US Government (and others) have been proven to spy on their own citizens, even peaceful, positive movements.
- The US Government has been known to leak personal information of citizens who express dissenting opinions, effectively discouraging people from exercising their freedom of speech.
- According to the Bureau of Justice: "During a 12-month period an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking" and "Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%)."
- Statistics show that lack of privacy leads to a population who is afraid to ask questions or educate themselves, even if the issues are important and the motives are pure. People are afraid to stand out lest they be mistaken for troublemakers, even if the cause is just.
- When you collect enough metadata, you can start to infer things that the person didn't necessarily want to reveal.
- On a large enough scale, the profiles compiled on individuals by mass surveillance can reveal unethical and personal information, such as how to successfully decieve people into doing things they wouldn't normally do. In 2016, Cambridge Analytica was accused of convincing entire countries to vote in ways they wouldn't normally vote, compromising democracy and literally changing the course of the future permanently.
- In the United States, the fourth ammendent of the Bill of Rights guarantees protection against search and seizure without a warrant based on probable cause. Mass surveillance collects information indiscriminately where US citizens have a right to expectation of privacy, thereby violating the constitutional rights of every American citizen.
- The United States Government's surveillance program is about control, not stopping crime. This is most obviously demonstrated when the Federal Bureau of Investigation dropped charges against members of a group of pedophiles in 2017 because continuing the case would've required them to reveal the vulnerability they used to track the pedophiles, which would have inevitably led to the exploit being fixed eventually.
- Insurance companies in the United States have begun to use your personal information to determine your insurance eligibility and rates.
- Some countries, including the United States, are working on implementing a China-style social credit system fed by your online and collected data.