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Businesses Privacy The Almighty Buck Technology

If Data Is the New Oil, Are Tech Companies Robbing Us Blind? (digitaltrends.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes. So why are we giving it away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations, and more accurate search results? It's an important question to ask in a world where the accumulation and scraping of data is worth billions of dollars -- and even a money-losing company with enough data about its users can be worth well into the eight-figure region. The essential bargain that's driven by today's tech giants is the purest form of cognitive capitalism: users feed in their brains -- whether this means solving a CAPTCHA to train AI systems or clicking links on Google to help it learn which websites are more important than others. In exchange for this, we get access to ostensibly "free" services, while simultaneously helping to train new technologies which may one day put large numbers of us out of business.

In an age in which concepts like universal basic income are increasingly widely discussed, one of the most intriguing solutions is one first put forward by virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier. In his book Who Owns the Future?, Lanier suggests that users should receive a micropayment every time their data is used to earn a company money. For example, consider the user who signs up to an online dating service. Here, the user provides data that the dating company uses to match them with a potential data. This matching process is, itself, based on algorithms honed by the data coming from previous users. The data resulting from the new user will further perfect the algorithms for later users of the service. In the case that your data somehow matches someone else successfully in a relationship, Lanier says you would be entitled to a micropayment.

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If Data Is the New Oil, Are Tech Companies Robbing Us Blind?

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  • No (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @10:36PM (#55263873)

    Data is not the new oil.

    • The new coal (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @12:51AM (#55264241)

      Since it's mined, it's the new coal.

      Remember when people were concerned we were sleepwalking into a surveillance society.
      Now everytime I turn on my phone, it contacts Google and does an install of whatever Google Play tells it to. I didn't choose this, it was a 'free-bee' feature that came when I installed an OS upgrade.

      YouTube on Android needs approval to upgrade.... it's needs new permissions. What permissions does a video player need now? Access to your contacts, your GPS position, your SMSs, your Microphone, your device ID and call information. i.e. who you talked to, when, where you are, who you are, who you associate with, what you said to your friends. None of this is NEEDED by Google, it's WANTED by Google.

      Try uninstalling Google Play and it will uninstall every app you bought. It's like going into Walmart, and buying stuff, and deciding you don't want to visit Walmart anymore and Walmart taking all the stuff it sold you back, and keeping your money anyway.

      The situation is a joke, suppose Putin doesn't put in Trump, suppose he got a proper dictator into power and not a wannaby self-deluded one. A few laws later and all that data would be there to do a stasi wet dream of a surveillance.

      • Re:The new coal (Score:5, Informative)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @01:11AM (#55264277) Homepage

        Big data suffers from the GIGO syndrome in a big way. It's often the small data in the huge pile that's really interesting.

        But otherwise it's like this:

        In the Beginning was The Plan
        And then came the Assumptions
        And the Assumptions were without form
        And the Plan was completely without substance
        And the darkness was upon the face of the Workers
        And the Workers spoke amongst themselves, saying
        "It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh."
        And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and sayeth,
        "It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof."
        And the Supervisors went unto their Managers and sayeth unto them,
        "It is a container of excrement and it is very strong,
                  such that none may abide by it."
        And the Managers went unto their Directors and sayeth,
        "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
        And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying one to another,
        "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."
        And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents and sayeth unto them,
        "It promotes growth and is very powerful."
        And the Vice Presidents went unto the President and sayeth unto him,
        "This new Plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this
                  Company, and in these Areas in particular."
        And the President looked upon The Plan,
        And saw that it was good, and The Plan became Policy.
        And this is how Shit Happens.

      • Now everytime I turn on my phone, it contacts Google and does an install of whatever Google Play tells it to

        If you don't want automatic updates, turn off automatic updates. You have control over that.

        YouTube on Android needs approval to upgrade.... it's needs new permissions. What permissions does a video player need now? Access to your contacts, your GPS position, your SMSs, your Microphone, your device ID and call information. i.e. who you talked to, when, where you are, who you are, who you associate with, what you said to your friends.

        Here [google.com] is an explanation of exactly what YouTube uses each of those permissions for. Note, also, that since Nougat (7.0, if you prefer numbers), you can disable any of those permissions individually. Further, they're disabled by default until you try to use a feature that requires them, and then you're asked specifically about each. I just looked on my phone [app.goo.gl], and the only permission category that's enabled on my phone

    • Data is not the new oil.

      Snake oil is a kind of oil too, isn't it? Big data is very important in science, or rather, the ability to work through huge amounts of data and fish out the important bits. And of course you can use the same technologies on user data from Facebook, Twitter etc, and the wet dream of all these internet companies is that by figuring out how each individual thinks and moves, they can sell us all more products. The flaw in this reasoning is that our lives are all already oversaturated with stuff we don't need o

  • by msauve ( 701917 )
    "users feed in their brains -- whether this means solving a CAPTCHA to train AI systems"

    So, that's how all those self-driving cars learn how to recognize street signs and other vechicles.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, it's also how Google improved their OCR algorithms for their book scanning project, identified address numbers when starting Street View, improved YouTube cat identification, etc... Where have you been for the past decade? People have been whining about this since they started. It's free work for Google. Manually tagging images is an extremely tedious task for researchers and you can't trust your result if your data sets are mislabeled so you h ave to do it. The bigger the data set the better.

      The

  • by TroII ( 4484479 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @10:40PM (#55263887)

    Companies are making billions of dollars trading on "facts" about you and me. They compile and sell this data with no recompense. They make no real attempts to ensure the data is accurate or that our lives aren't negatively impacted by errors. And when they inevitably get breached and our data gets stolen, they offer a token few months of credit monitoring (especially ironic coming from Equifax). Gee, thanks.

    The dinosaurs are lucky; they aren't around to give a shit that they're being sold for profit.

    • And all for what? For ads. Let that sink in for a moment.

      All that money and effort. The abuse of our trust and violation of our privacy. The tricks and hacks played on our systems - some borderline illegal - in order to track us. All that just to help others sell us more crap. By “better understanding our customers” and “delivering an experience tailored to appeal to each customer”.

      And guess what? Ads still suck. Targeted ads aren’t, not beyond showing us stuff matching
      • It's gold pressed lathinum. No, even that does not give it justice. It is priceless.
        And people gave it away for pennies. Rather than pay a buck per month for social media stuff if that is your thing, people gave away the priceless....
        In defense I think noone imagined what can be achieved with big data plus machine learning.
        I believe that even if people offer 1000 bucks per month for Facebook without data collection Zukerberg will not take it since the data is way more precious. Priceless as mentioned...

      • by r0kk3rz ( 825106 )

        And all for what? For ads. Let that sink in for a moment. All that money and effort. The abuse of our trust and violation of our privacy. The tricks and hacks played on our systems - some borderline illegal - in order to track us. All that just to help others sell us more crap. By “better understanding our customers” and “delivering an experience tailored to appeal to each customer”.

        Not always, I *still* can't really believe people gave away a treasure trove of biometric facial data in exchange for cutesy pictures of their face as a cat or dog. I would be really surprised if Snap .inc doesn't have a deal with Palantir or other such government contractor.

    • by saibot834 ( 1061528 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @11:31PM (#55264097)

      If Data is the New Oil, then Data Privacy is the New Ecology Movement.

    • Man broad platitudes are awesome and great. Claps to your misguided typing
    • The dinosaurs are lucky; they aren't around to give a shit that they're being sold for profit.

      I'll bet they don't feel lucky.

    • Companies are making billions of dollars trading on "facts" about you and me. They compile and sell this data with no recompense. They make no real attempts to ensure the data is accurate or that our lives aren't negatively impacted by errors.

      They are only making billions by selling data for more than they paid for it (if they paid anything at all). One day it will suddenly dawn on them that for actual end use it is not worth anywhere near those prices. As everyone is saying, the ads "targeted" at us are mostly miles off-target, and I don't react to them anyway. When that day comes, the whole data-mining bubble will burst.

      It is like the price paid for old masters, or Jane Austen manuscripts. They have little or no practical value (you can lo

    • That's bullshit for the most part. This article isn't about detailed info like our social security and credit card numbers. It's about big data, aggregated summaries of large amounts of data, not financial details for individuals stolen from Equifax, Target, Home Depot, etc.

      Let's say Google sells a summary of all our surfing habits to another company. They're not selling "us". We're still here. We're not impacted in any way, and that data is completely useless to us. So that other company uses that data to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2017 @10:43PM (#55263899)

    I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I saw Google, Facebook, and the others for what they were the second the came on the scene. Not a social media account or cloud account do I possess and none will I have.

    I enjoy good products and good services and I think they should cost money. For this reason, I happily pay for Fastmail, an email company that treats me with respect and solves any issues quickly. They are humble, transparent, and worth the money I have shelled out for years. The only other company I think one can trust with their data is rsync.net. I would not give me data to anyone else willingly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2017 @10:44PM (#55263907)

    "We reserve the right to share your information with ..."
    "You grant us an unlimited license to ..."

    Yeah, we've been robbed blind, and for decades longer than this current all-seeing-eye craze. Contracts of adhesion should have been outlawed a long time ago.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @02:40AM (#55264469)

      If by robbed blind you mean you get something for free in return for giving up something you yourself are unable to monetise then sure, you're being robbed.

      • If by robbed blind you mean you get something for free

        I'm pretty sure plenty of my personal data is being mined without my permission.

        My last employer, for example, sold my information to a bank and automatically opened an account for me, later crooning the benefits of having my checks tied to a special debit card. All I had to do was place a phone call to activate my account, which was all set up and ready to go.

        And people wonder why I don't want a smartphone and refuse to use Facebook.

        • My last employer, for example, sold my information to a bank and automatically opened an account for me, later crooning the benefits of having my checks tied to a special debit card. All I had to do was place a phone call to activate my account, which was all set up and ready to go.

          Does your employer have a lot of employees who would be reluctant to use direct deposit? I've seen the sort of thing you're talking about, but in every case the employer wasn't "selling" data, they were just trying to avoid having to cut and mail checks. In fact, in most cases I think the employer actually pays a fee to the bank for the service.

          • I already had direct deposit with my primary bank. They created an entirely new account with a bank I didn't know, apparently in some kind of deal to get me to switch.

            • Does your employer have a lot of employees who would be reluctant to use direct deposit?

              I already had direct deposit with my primary bank.

              Okay, but you didn't answer my question. If the job was one where lots of employees didn't/wouldn't do direct deposit, they might have had account creation as a normal part of the onboarding process.

        • for example, sold my information to a bank and automatically opened an account for me

          Well if he actually did that without your permission you could get quite rich suing him. But my guess is you gave him that permission.

          • I had worked for that employer for 9 years and never signed any kind of contract, so it must have been some "automatic consent without having to inform you" kind of thing. You know, sort of like how EULAs aren't legally binding in a lot of ways because they are agreements, not contracts.

            It was a blue-collar job, but it was also a multi-billion Fortune 500 company, not some mom-and-pop shop. When it comes to companies that large, I presume there is some kind of legal loophole that makes this fully legal.

            • I had worked for that employer for 9 years and never signed any kind of contract

              So you're an illegal undocumented employee now? Shit this keeps getting better.

  • Yes, obviously. And I've been saying it for years.

    • by XXeR ( 447912 )

      Yes, obviously. And I've been saying it for years.

      Golly, kindly provide details on how we can all subscribe to your newsletter!

  • We are now the product. We are no longer the consumer.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @11:03PM (#55263993) Journal

    Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes.

    What moron said that "data is the new oil", and can we please name and shame him?

    I mean, why oil? Why not "the new lupens"? Or, the "new bath salts"? Wait, I know, "data is the new hydrogen".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "data is the new tulips" seems more appropriate.

    • What moron said that "data is the new oil", and can we please name and shame him?

      Sure, but it has been said by economists over the world and Slashdot reply boxes have a character limit so we won't.

      The comparison has been struck in the value of something that many people don't want to touch or don't want to process. Companies doing nothing but trading and mining data like Facebook are worth more than some oil and gas companies e.g. ConocoPhillips.

      So sure, shame them rather than understand what they are saying. That will really help.

      • Sure, but it has been said by economists over the world

        Economists as a group have pretty much maxed out their moron stats. As a science economics is less rigorous than parapsychology. So if they say it, you can count on it being stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What did you think Afghanistan was all about? Terrorism?

  • The bottom line is (Score:3, Informative)

    by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Monday September 25, 2017 @11:08PM (#55264015)

    If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.

    • by adolf ( 21054 )

      When I turn on the radio, I'm the product? How?

    • If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.

      Said by people without a basic understanding of economics or the realisation that there are ways of paying for things other than parting with cash.

      • that there are ways of paying for things other than parting with cash.

        So paying then. The poster didn't mention cash, you did. And then you used your own extrapolation to explain why the poster is so naive. I'd say the lack of basic understanding is not quite where you placed it.

        • No the poster mentioned that you are the product because you didn't pay for something, which is absurd.

      • If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.

        Said by people without a basic understanding of economics or the realisation that there are ways of paying for things other than parting with cash.

        Yes, there are other ways of paying for things other than parting with cash.
        All of those free products are selling your information, activity, location, actions, preferences, and so on (direct or indirect) to the companies paying them.

        Duh.
        That's why the customers are the product. That's what's being sold.

        • That's why the customers are the product. That's what's being sold.

          If you think the consumer's information is being sold then you have less of a clue than you first thought. It's like a company that exists only to sell its own trade secrets to anyone who wants to know it.

          If you're going to try and correct me then realise that Facebook doesn't have a product, it has 2 services. One is bartered for personal information, the other is charged to place advertisements on the first.

          • That's why the customers are the product. That's what's being sold.

            If you think the consumer's information is being sold then you have less of a clue than you first though

            Dude, just stop. You're wrong and you know you're wrong.
            Companies giving away product aren't selling first order information. Duh. They're selling second order. Third order.
            Funny how everyone understands this except for you.
            But hey, don't change.

          • You! Down there, in the hole! Mind your head, I'm dropping you a new shovel. That one looks worn out.

    • by Gamasta ( 557555 )

      Says one pig to the other...

      http://funnyasduck.net/post/13... [funnyasduck.net]

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Such a wasteful business plan. To companies like Facebook and Google you are both the customer AND the product. They sell you services, even hardware, while at the same time selling to advertisers. Much more profitable.

  • IMHO it's extreme consolidation, not much more.

    I'm currently testing "cloud only" for most of my computing needs. I've been thinking about this for quite some time and now I'm giving it a testrun.
    I meet a guy at our local hackerspace who uses Chrome OS exclusively. He won't go back.

    The side effect is that I'm spending less time at the computer and getting more real work done. Going all-out Google can be a really neat thing. Google watches over you and that's not just a bad thing. The speed at which I get wo

  • Until the internet, dating services weren't free.
    Now you give some info, and get something that used to cost real money.
    you're getting something of established value for your information.
    Trading information for a service. You're being paid very directly for your information.
    perhaps the services aren't that transparent about how your info will be used. Be careful!


    You get what you pay for.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like four things going on here:
    1) Publicly available data - Google and Facebook could buy what they don't already know about you from Axciom, etc. So there's little unknown public data (by definition) you could offer that would be of much value.

    2) Data you've produced - Like the translation of Harry Potter for training Google's translation algorithms. This would be data you've produced, not about you. Sounds more like run of the mill licensing but multiplied by a billion samples.

    3) Task based data

  • Massive Data collection and AI are determining "democratic" votes loosing the term "democratic" and turning it into manipulated.
    Are we becoming all Zombies manipulated by strings somebody knows how to use?

    Sure seems like it.

    What would be an antidote?

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @12:52AM (#55264243)
    Most data that companies have is wrong. It is out of date, frequently incorrect (especially when people make a point of giving false information: surely 99% of the time) and the vast majority of it is duplicated.

    No website that does not require me to give a credit card to buy stuff has anything usable. They don't even have my real name, age, address or nationality. The few that do, will know if I bought an Arduino or a pair of trousers or a toaster or The Undercover Economist or some lightbulbs or polyurethane adhesive. But none of that is any sort of reliable indication of what I would buy in the future. Hell, even I don't know what I will buy in the future.

    Even if the credit card companies could consolidate all the activity across all my cards, websites and bank accounts, it would just add up to someone who buys groceries, pays bills, buys clothes, who travels, buys gifts, home improvement goods, has hobbies and interests. They could discern the size and age of my family, possibly make a stab at my job and income, make of car and holiday destination.

    But so what? They tailor a few advertisments to me - that is better than pushing random ads in my direction.Except I use an ad-blocker so I have no idea what is being directed at me. Occasionally I notice that something appears on a website that is associated with something I recently bought - but since I have already bought it, it has no relevance. They have missed the opportunity.

    If companies place a monetary value on this sort of data, they really are paying for nothing. They might as well offer to buy the leaves that fall off trees for all the relevance it has. But I suppose that in an industry where they can't buy what is valuable, they place value on what they can buy. But they are kidding themselves.

    • You say you don't know what you'll buy next - then you're the perfect person to advertise to.

      As the Russian Facebook adevrtising story is telling us, despite what we may think, we're manipulated to some degree by the things we see and read. If we read that "everyone" is doing X, then in some small way we may consider "X" to be a little less abhorrent than we thought it was a moment ago. And thus, we've been manipulated.

      You too can be manipulated. Perhaps your policy of spreading purchases around multiple si

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @01:33AM (#55264313) Journal

    Pretty soon, A.I. will be able to identify you in public; first when you voluntarily give up your "identity" (such as use a fingerprint scanner or iris scanner) then at a distance when facial recognition or voice analysis will be able to pick you out of a crowd. Maybe, paired with enough data, you'll even be tracked from a great distance based on your clothing and gait analysis.

    They'll be able to learn what you do, what you drive, what you eat (and where and when) and of course who you associate with (and maybe why!). Soon, your preferences and habits will become part of your profile; whether or not you like your coffee black, are you an aggressive driver, do you look at other members of the opposite sex.

    Let's hope that the people keeping this data don't get hacked (like Equifax!).

    Finally, this will be paired with your genetic profile (full disclosure, that's what I analyze). Then, unless pesky privacy laws prevent this, they'll be able to match your habits/health/profession with your gene expression. In the best outcome; you'll get an e-mail from Genes "R" Us saying that with a simple modification of your genes administered (via oral CRISPR) you could be 20% more effective in your work/sex life/happiness. In the worst outcome you'll be subtly manipulated to purchase products that for some strange reason appeal to you; or you'll find yourself doing things that aren't in your best interest (like becoming very irritable when exposed to a certain scent). Of course, if the people who are manipulating you are allowed to make changes to your DNA then you could literally end up their puppet. (Well, once they have behavioral genetics figured out).

    But don't worry, this won't happen for at least another 5 years!

    • by Afty0r ( 263037 )

      whether or not you like your coffee black

      Awesome, coffee machine and companies will know what to serve me without me having to interact with them. Convenient!

      are you an aggressive driver

      Good, all aggressive drivers should be identified, and their insurance premiums modified appropriately to try to create a safer environment for all.

      do you look at other members of the opposite sex

      Superb, it can recognise when I sneak a glance at a girl, and if she has done the same while I was looking away it can send us

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      And they will know how to influence your behavior. The ads that where done on Facebook by the Russians is the the start.

      Puppet masters seems to be a nice job for the future till AI takes over there as well.

      Control used to be done by guns and force. It is much more subtle now. Instead of barking at the sheep, you just guide them.
      You are one of the dogs in this scenario. The ones with real power is the farmer that is interested in having their flock docile so it will give more meat and wool.

  • "So why are we giving [personal data] away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations, and more accurate search results?

    Simple. Most of us are sheep...too lazy and/or too stupid to care about the value of what we're giving away for nothing. Not all of the sheeple are technologically incompetent, either. Far too often you hear "Oh, privacy is so yesterday" arguments from those who insist they have nothing to hide, so they don't care if they're tracked and commoditized every moment of their lives. Those people are actually the biggest problem, because they help move the yardsticks and make people like me, who actually DO care about privacy, to jump through all kinds of hoops in an effort to preserve something that should be the default option. And if any of them are connected with me in any way, the EULA's they sign so blithely often give tech companies permission to go after any data of mine that may be residing on their machines. My email address and phone number, for example.

  • "In exchange for this, we get access to ostensibly "free" services...

    They aren't "ostensibly" free. They're actually free (as in beer), which is the main reason people today will happily trade their digital soul in exchange for a zero-cost app or service. The fastest way to offend a Millennial is to make them open their wallet for an app, social media, email, web hosting, or WiFi service.

    "...while simultaneously helping to train new technologies which may one day put large numbers of us out of business."

    Uh, when speaking to the IDGAF generation, try and remember that they only care about the FOMO moment. They're rather YOLO about all that "one day" future shit.

  • by XB-70 ( 812342 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @05:18AM (#55264951)
    Big Picture: Our elected officials no longer represent us. They no longer defend us. They are not interested in promulgating basic laws to return control of personal information to the citizen. The vast imbalance between the reach of large corporations / governments and the citizen has to be righted. This is not a left-right issue. This is fast becoming a much-needed human right. Make it an issue in your next election. Get involved in politics and work from within whatever party you subscribe to. Get involved in the policy process. That is the way to get it on the electoral agenda.

    Very few persons who are ultimately responsible for data breaches are held to account.

    It's time to fight back - from within.

  • should click-bait headlines like this be on slashdot?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Want a Google, Microsoft or Yahoo account? You now need a phone! #Google-Microsoft-Yahoo-Hate-Poor-People
    Want to register Office 2016? You create an account, redeem your key, Microsoft suspends your account, the software you just paid for is now held hostage
    Want to use Adobe? Hahahaha! Not even the home version will work with out an "Adobe" Account.
    Microsoft has Windows 10 spying on you left and right despite the sliders which make you think some is turned off.
    Android needs location services on just to use

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @06:48AM (#55265333)
    If you as a private individual elect to use services such as "Google Docs" or Microsoft "Office 365", then implicitly you are using on-line services and functionality to capture and store your creative output. The terms [for Google, certainly] under which this happens are pretty clear. See:-

    https://support.google.com/dri... [google.com]

    However, if you elect to purchase products [say CDs or Blurays] from an on-line retailer, then your use of that on-line service is captured, analyzed, but then used to sell other product to other people. Amazon are pretty transparent about this - look for "The Page You Made" as a link on their site after you've been browsing for a bit...

    There are two key differences. Firstly, Amazon are using your input as a mechanism to generate profit for themselves - income that they do not share with you, despite the fact that they are at least partially dependent upon you for the information. Secondly, the respective terms and conditions - crucially, for activities that are legally similar - are very, very different.

    The retailers believe that they own anything you "do" with their web site. The cloud utility providers make it explicitly clear they make no such claims. Obviously, these differing opinions can both be legally claimed thanks to the terms and conditions that we implicitly accept when we access these different resources. It's equally obvious that the effort that the retailers put into their analysis pays off - or they would stop.

    Where this gets interesting is the way that the retailers are essentially leveraging our use of their product to market yet more "stuff" to us, thereby actions which benefit the retailer but not the consumer. I would be quite happy to argue that my use of a retailer's web site constitutes a unique creative activity on my part and that, as such, my actions should be considered a copyright-protected work, and something that I explicitly do not agree to be re-used, in any way, without my express permission. Unfortunately for me, the law [and the retailers] would laugh themselves silly.

    I think we can pretty quickly conclude that the dynamic in the relationship between retailers and consumers [and this is no longer exclusively related to on-line shopping, given the way that CCTV and wifi tracking is now being used to track shoppers around stores] has become seriously imbalanced. When that happens, we rely upon the law to keep the game even and fair. Unfortunately, these retail changes are coincident with extraordinary levels of lobbying, and essentially it pitches private citizens against both the state [because the state wants to spy on us] and corporations [which also want to monitor and track us].

    Sadly, I think the chances of our seeing fair and equitable protections for shoppers or service consumers being enacted as law stand less of a chance than the proverbial snowball in hell.

    Shame.
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @07:35AM (#55265563)

    more accurate search results

    The bigger Google gets, the more time I waste trying to trick its algorithm into not giving me everything-including-the-kitchen-sink results that are anything but "accurate". That seems to be the foundation for most business models these days - exchanging less and less value for more and more of money, data, or whatever.

    As for tech companies "robbing us blind", why would we expect them to be any different in that regard from other kinds of corporations?

  • by bigdavex ( 155746 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @07:43AM (#55265599)

    There is a gross misunderstanding of wealth in this topic.

    The reason personal data is valuable to companies is generally that it can be used to sell that person a product in exchange for the wealth he controls. Companies aren't merely curious. If a person creates no wealth, then eventually the companies are as indifferent to his preferences and habits as they are to those of squirrels. Personal data has value as a path to acquire that person's wealth.

    Other kinds of data creation (like computer programming) have been compensated for awhile now. That's part of the traditional economy now.

    "Consumer" is not a career path.
         

    • Personal data has value as a path to acquire that person's wealth.

      ... with that person's permission and active cooperation. Even those who view advertising as manipulation have to grant that the target ultimately has a choice about whether or not to buy -- or even to look at the ad.

    • something that has no value still has value as a statistic

    • The other reason personal data is valuable to companies is that it can be used to guess, with increasing accuracy :

      1. The politician he is going to vote for. The politician we have currently given power to kill / detain / silence people without evidence, for our own safety of course, can certainly put that information to good use.

      2. The place one is at a given time, or will be. It is easier and safer to kill or otherwise harm people at some places rather than at others.

      Politics and crime (sometimes the same

  • Errrr, GDPR anyone? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] It goes a long way to recognizing people should be in control of what happens to their data and that organisations should safeguard this information. It's a great start.
  • Publish your private data with a license to restrict access and enable you to limit and monetise others use of your data.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM

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