TECHNOLOGY

Surveillance capitalism: personal data becomes a commodity

In the era of the knowledge revolution, there’s no place left for data secrecy or anonymity. Whether you browse your e-mails, or create a private account on one among the social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, to browse and share the newest news and issues that interest you and upload photos and videos to you and your friends, or online shopping from popular stores like Amazon and Alibaba.
Through this system, technology companies develop and improve their performance in publishing advertisements or selling data of users of their products to third parties. By taking advantage of monitoring their behavior and interaction within these sites – without paying one penny – through advanced technologies like AI and deep learning. And it may also share this data with government agencies, as long as there is no legal or ethical deterrent that limits the expansion or influence of these companies

Surveillance capitalism is out in the open
The monitoring capital policies are being held publicly between companies, as with the beginning of the new year the tension increased between Mark Zuckerberg, founder and director of Facebook, and Elon Musk, founder and director of Tesla and SpaceX, due to the controversial privacy policy from WhatsApp 1, which in its brief content is the collection of your data on WhatsApp – case updates from Text, photos, and videos – and link them to your personal Facebook account, and if you are doing not comply with the new policy, you will not be able to use WhatsApp.
Elon immediately called in his tweet on Twitter to use the safer and reliable Signal messaging program as an alternate to WhatsApp, and many people that abandoned WhatsApp and used Signal answered the decision , and as a results of these pressures WhatsApp finally bowed to users’ opinion and postponed the privacy policy for 3 months, and also made it clear that it’ll not Accounts of users who don’t comply with the new policy are deleted.
Facebook also entered into problems with Apple at the end of last year, due to the latter, which is concerned with protecting the privacy of users of its products, to create a tracking tool in the App Store that allows users to control whether or not to share their data with applications – dependent on publishing targeted ads – before downloading them From the store, which is considered by Facebook to be a monopoly in profit on the part of Apple.
But these two examples are nothing but a drop of water in the ocean compared to the approach and methods of technology companies in applying surveillance capitalism to users and customers without being fully transparent about it, or involving them in ethical and humanitarian issues affecting societies around the world

Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica in Trump’s victory in the US elections and Brexit
In the midst of the 2015 United States elections between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, Facebook was involved with the British Cambridge Analytica 3 company in collecting millions of data from Facebook users by promoting Trump’s election campaign, which he ultimately won, and the company also contributed to Brexit. From the European Union.

Cambridge Analytica, headed by Alexander Knicks, built an artificial intelligence program that depends on influencing users’ choices and decisions when polling, based on their data information taken from an application on Facebook called “This is your digital life” developed by the programmer and professor at the University of Saint Petersburg, Russian Alexander Kogan who He collaborated with Analatika through his company, Global Science Research.

In the beginning, hundreds of thousands of users were paid to take a personality test on Facebook under the pretext of using it for academic research purposes, and the application was also able to collect information about the friends of the test takers, and ultimately lead to the collection of millions of data from Facebook users who numbered more than 50 million accounts around the world, most of them from The United States, where is the largest historical breach of Facebook user data.

Because of these breached data and the application of the monitoring capitalist rule, the Trump campaign paid huge sums of money to Cambridge Analytica, to influence the decisions of the American electorate, which made it more likely how Trump would win Clinton. The US government has conducted an extensive investigation into the issue of data breaches of American Facebook users, whereby Facebook director Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to testify before Congress, and Analatica declared its official bankruptcy to evade the investigation or be financially prosecuted.

China is involved with local tech companies in developing tools used to persecute and suppress Uighur Muslims
The repercussions of surveillance capitalism are more apparent in humanitarian issues and the denial of freedoms within China. In early December of last year, an investigative report conducted by the research organization IPVM and shared by the Washington Post 4 showed that the Chinese giant Huawei is testing software systems for facial recognition for use against Uyghur Muslims, as it sends urgent warnings to the Chinese authorities as soon as they are identified, in line with With the policies of totalitarian repression against this Muslim minority.

IPVM shared a document showing signature marks from Huawei officials, and teamed up with a local startup in Beijing called Megvii to test AI-powered camera systems to scan large crowds in public places and be able to estimate the age and determine the gender and ethnicity of each person. After the Washington Post and IPVM invited Huawei to comment on the matter, the latter immediately removed the document from its website.
As the e-commerce giant in Asia, Alibaba Store, 5 has also been involved with the Chinese government in developing a surveillance program to help web platforms in China monitor digital content, such as discovering the Uyghur minority and tracking their activities, suspicions of terrorism, pornography and other details included in the Red Flag categories of the Communist Party. Governor and reporting.

It is worth noting that Huawei ranks second in the list of the largest manufacturers of smartphones in the world and its products are sold in more than 170 countries, and the Trump government in 2019 included it in the list of trade with which it is prohibited to deal with it in the United States and recently joined the list Xiaomi in terms of Investing in and financing it.

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