Tuesday, January 28, 2020

We Value Your Privacy

A bald-faced lie and a proper crock of shit. And yet these sites persist in coercing their followers to voluntarily throw in the blanket and give up what little privacy remains.

When you visit TheAtlantic.com, The Atlantic and our partners use cookies and other methods to process your personal data in order to customize content and your site experience, provide social media features, analyze our traffic, and personalize advertising on both our family of websites and our partners' platforms.

Doesn’t sound much like valuing my privacy unless they mean it in the dictionary definition: “fix or determine the value of; assign a value to.”

Bloody hell, I reckon that’s it.

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Now I already pay subscription rates to several newspapers and internet news sites I feel are valuable, because that seems only fair. The Atlantic is not one of them, as they do not offer value on a continuing basis—at least not sufficient to my interests.

But it seems very much a bait-and-switch conspiracy for  news aggregators such as Google News to lure visitors with headlines and then put a gun to their head with required access to cookies and other methods (whatever the hell ‘other methods’ might be) before delivering content.

There is such a thing as surveillance capitalism rearing its ugly head today and I suggest you acquaint yourself with it. The New York Times article of that title posits that “surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth.”

We shrug and give a ‘like’ to a posting on Facebook. Our cell phones have location, mobile data and mobile hotspot enabled. Our footprints are everywhere and the good guys monetized those footprints and became bad guys.

Who knew? Certainly not me. Google kept giving me free stuff of great value and I lapped it up, snuggled into the soothing warmth of my internet blanket and dozed off.

The article suggests “We thought that we search Google, but now we understand that Google searches us. We assumed that we use social media to connect, but we learned that connection is how social media uses us. We barely questioned why our new TV or mattress had a privacy policy, but we’ve begun to understand that “privacy” policies are actually surveillance policies.”

My reaction to those first glimmers of data-gathering was, “what the hell, if you’re not a crook, who cares—I’ve nothing to hide.” 

Which is true on a personal basis.

But then strange things began to happen (spooky music in the background).

Almost simultaneously, there was a referendum in Britain where the Brit public voted for what was obviously not in their best interests and…

…we elected a president in the United States that caught us all with our pants around our ankles and have since been stunned by our democratic republic being hung out the window and shaken by the ankles.

Cambridge Analytica targeted specific individuals in America and Britain with political untruths that whispered to the prejudices we all carry. The internet was (and is) a vast and fertile field for conspiracy. Truth left the room, forced out the backway by fake news, outright lies and alternate truth—whatever the hell that might mean.

Competing points of view have always been the major strength of America—we argue, complain, demonstrate and grouse around the dinner-table and water-cooler. But our national trust in one another enables all those attributes and that trust has been broken.

That erosion of trust began decades ago with both political parties bought and paid for by commercial interests. 

Democracy in the pocket of lobbyists is no democracy at all.
From there it spooled into trickle-down economics, trade deals that sold out the working class, union busting, bank fraud, unlimited money in political contests, unwinnable wars, a growing prison population and increasing social isolation at all levels.

A thousand Facebook friends and no one to have coffee with—not a soul to call at 2am when life has fallen apart. Is it any wonder we’re vulnerable? Is it any surprise social media found a way to monetize that vulnerability?

The last paragraph of the New York Times article on Surveillance Capitalism is worth noting.

“Surveillance capitalists are rich and powerful, but they are not invulnerable. They have an Achilles heel: fear. They fear lawmakers who do not fear them. They fear citizens who demand a new road forward as they insist on new answers to old questions:
Who will know? Who will decide who knows? Who will decide who decides? Who will write the music, and who will dance?”

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