Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

... but there's still time to unplug it

On a walk across the show floor at January's Consumer Electronics Show, a friend working in technology for nearly thirty years expressed unease at where it all seemed to be headed.

As I pulled my head away from a consumer door lock containing an embedded retinal scanner, I replied. "I don't know what you're talking about."

But I did. I could feel it in my gut and heard it from everyone else who'd spent a career working in technology. It isn't just that a few megacorporations nearing trillion-dollar valuations have sucked all of the oxygen out of the room, it's that they've become so big they've started to warp the fabric of reality.

Facebook got caught out in May using real-time emotional profiling to target vulnerable teenagers with commercial offers.

Google was caught out last week tracking Android users even when they're not supposed to.

Amazon wants access to your home.




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Apple developed a next-generation smartphone that provides a real-time stream of facial gestures to any app that wants to measure your emotional reactions. Hardly anyone cares because it also offers - so cute! - a poo animoji!

In any previous year, any one of these incidents might have have seen a massive outpouring of outrage, a pushback that would get these firms to amend their ways. In 2017, they just feel like a few more outrages in a year crowded with them.

Along with outrage fatigue we seem to be experiencing surveillance fatigue: it's not creepy that Amazon wants inside your home or Apple wants to scan your face or Google wants to know where you are every single moment. Not creepy at all.

How did we get to this normalisation of pervasive surveillance?


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Most Americans accept it out of ignorance. They simply have no idea whatsoever how pervasive it is. Under the guise of tailoring Google search, tailoring Google ads, providing you a 3% discount at the local Kroger, or recommending a song choice, online data giants and their predictive analytic algorithms know EVERYTHING (this cannot be overstated) about you. Joe Everyman naively believes that all of these are independent efforts by competing corporations, but that is not the case. Many are subsidiaries, some have data sharing agreements, and all are data-mined by a horde of bots that then compile that data. Joe Everyman is also stupid. Joe uses one password for everything or, if he's clever, has a different password for every application but bases them all on his anniversary, kid's names, dog's name, high school mascot or a car. He then goes on Facebook and jumps right in on those "What was your first car? Spell your dog's name without using vowels! Where did YOU go to high school?" posts, and that information is added to his profile.

When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Your entire family history (FB, Ancestry, cloud-stored contacts lists cross-referenced to everyone else's lists), your medical history and medical status (ever use WebMD? It's owned by Internet Brands, who owns over 100 other sites), your financial status, your hobbies, your military service, your buying habits, your employment history (LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft), etc. Do you use autofill for online shopping? Bad idea. Want Windows to remember the password for this site? Don't do it. Do you have Siri, Alexa, or any other voice activated AI? Turn it off, off, off...

Oh, by the way, a lot of these tech giants have under the table handshakes with the NSA and other "3 letter" agencies. How do you keep the wolf from blowing your house down? Invite him in for dinner.


#1 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-11-28 10:30 AM | Reply

@#1 ... Most Americans accept it out of ignorance. They simply have no idea whatsoever how pervasive it is. ...

... or they know how pervasive the data collection is, but they do not know how pervasive the use of the collected information is. As you elaborate upon.

What is even worse, is that you are not the only source of your data. Facebook makes a bundle because your friends leak private info about you, party pictures, restaurants you eat at together, etc. Even if you are not a member of Facebook you are probably tracked by Facebook.

#2 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-11-28 10:39 AM | Reply

algorithms know EVERYTHING (this cannot be overstated) about you. - #1 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-11-28 10:30 AM
they do not know how pervasive the use of the collected information is. - #2 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-11-28 10:39 AM

So what is the point of all of that data? What pervasive use is it being put towards? Maybe I am ignorant of this, so I'm happy to learn more, but...help me understand the risks, not vague 'pervasive use'. I already don't see ads. I already have accepted the US government having nearly limitless access to my personal information (I just re-submitted my every-10-year security clearance information).

#3 | Posted by Avigdore at 2017-11-29 01:34 PM | Reply

In China, by way of example, Google allows government access to that data...and several people have been arrested a dissidents. What happens in 20 years when our government is ready to go full McCarthy and the data giants roll over? Both Google and FB made deals with the Feds over violating privacy laws... what did they promise? FB maintains 98 different data points for each user and they and Google will sell it to anyone claiming to be a legit business. Did you know (according to a PSA I saw), Big Tobacco disproportionately targeted blacks, the poor, vets and the mentally ill...how do they get their targeting data?

#4 | Posted by MUSTANG at 2017-11-29 01:55 PM | Reply

So, by 'targeting data' are you meaning targeted ads? I'm completely unconcerned about business being able to tailor ads to things they think they know about me.

Government violation of privacy laws is a different story. I am a big believer in a smaller, more limited government (definitely a minority on this site), and as such, I will always include in my voting decision making finding representatives that share those beliefs. Beyond that, as a part of this society, I will go along with the decisions that society makes as a whole. I have the ability to depart if I should feel the need, but honestly, I don't currently see anyplace significantly better.

#5 | Posted by Avigdore at 2017-11-29 02:09 PM | Reply

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