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Surveillance Industry

02/08/2021

For many years, I have railed against Big Tech companies, like Google and Facebook, who spy on their customers, gathering ever-increasing amounts of data, and selling that data to whomever will pay the tech company for that data.

Until now, we have lacked a name for this business model.  Thanks to Harvard Business School professor, Dr. Shoshana Zuboff, the handy label has become Surveillance Capitalism.  Her new book, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” is a must-read for those who can remember privacy.  She argues the surveillance companies are becoming even “more granular.”  They will NEVER have all the data they want.  Google has admitted their street-mapping vehicles, which we’ve all seen, is capable of picking up wifi data in the homes they pass.  They want to know what color shirts you like, even what type of toilet paper you buy.  Is there a point, anywhere, at any time, when Americans will finally say “enough already?”  Not as long as the advertising industry (and China, Russia, mobsters, etc.) have an insatiable appetite for your personal data!

One point that resonated with me was that the stage for this intrusive capitalism was set during the early 1970’s, where there was a rebirth of the traditional economic theories of Fredrich Hayek (the father of Austrian economics) and the birth of the economic theories of Milton Friedman (the father of monetarism).  Until that time, capitalism was governed by the “double movement” of laws and policies.  Both economic theories argued there is an inverse relationship between capitalism and regulation – the more regulation, the less capitalism.  AMEN!  Both economic theories also argued that competition would prevent abuse . . . BULL!

If the technology of surveillance existed pre-1970, prior to this rebirth/birth of these economic theories, would the surveillance industry have been allowed to run wild?

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