Surveillance Capitalism

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There’s a lot of money to be made off of government surveillance.

There is a global architecture of behavior modification that’s being built and perfected by TPTB, namely Big Tech, and although it might sound hyperbolic, it must be said: It threatens human nature in the twenty-first century.

What Is Surveillance Capitalism?

This industry is known as surveillance capitalism, a concept developed by Shoshana Zuboff in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. Zuboff writes in her book:

At its core, surveillance capitalism is parasitic and self-referential. It revives Karl Marx’s image of capitalism as a vampire that feeds on labor, but with an unexpected turn. Instead of labor, surveillance capitalism feeds on every aspect of every human experience.

A related concept is informational capitalism, which posits an extremely similar idea as a new form of economic production, not simply a new development of traditional industrial and financial capitalism. In layman’s terms, you might’ve heard data referred to as “the new oil” because it’s what drives the economic engine.

Gaining privacy online is difficult, requiring a lot of dedicated, informed effort, time, and some expense. Anonymity is nearly impossible, though for figures targeted by state actors such as Edward Snowden, there is simply no alternative.

While there is overlap between surveillance capitalism and the state, it is worthy of note that the heavy lifting is largely done by Big Tech. Big Tech sees the information you give them as a sort of freely available dataset which can be used to track you, sometimes for marketing purposes, sometimes for more nefarious ends, and sometimes unbeknownst to them.

HURT Program Diagram
Diagram of the “Heterogeneous Urban RSTA Team” or HURT Program was a surveillance system designed to provide 3D surveillance of urban areas.

Unregulated Data Collection

Big Tech’s nose in your private life for profit extends beyond the sphere of social media. People interact with the Internet in many more places than just their laptop, thanks to the Internet of Things. Big Tech isn’t just collecting data from your Facebook likes. They’re also collecting it from your phone, your car, and maybe even your fridge.

All of this would be troubling enough on its own. But Big Tech is all too willing to share your information with its friends, including the surveillance state, which is now aiming to track everywhere everyone goes in the name of “safety.”

What’s more, there is no oversight of this data collection. While we certainly do not believe that government regulations are the key to solving the world’s problems, it’s important to distinguish between negative rights and positive rights. The right to privacy and protection from invasive data collection practices does not involve an entitlement to someone else’s labor. Crafted properly, such oversight could simply protect Internet users from predation by, what we might call without too much exaggeration, omnipotent corporations.

Surveillance capitalism sets the stage for a new age of totalitarianism that is almost unimaginable in scope, all executed by the private sector. It’s not just about your shopping patterns. It’s about everything you do from how much sleep you get to how often you go to the bathroom, to what books you read.

This panopticon again sets the stage of a managerial state with powerful, undreamed of tools of behavior modification. Humanity becomes bugs in a hive overseen by an increasingly detached digital elite.

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