‘Thousands of Companies Are Spying On You’

Security guru Bruce Schneier warns that “thousands of companies” are spying on us and manipulating us for profit. An anonymous reader quotes his article on CNN:
Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff calls it “surveillance capitalism.” And as creepy as Facebook is turning out to be, the entire industry is far creepier. It has existed in secret far too long, and it’s up to lawmakers to force these companies into the public spotlight, where we can all decide if this is how we want society to operate and — if not — what to do about it…
Surveillance capitalism drives much of the internet. It’s behind most of the “free” services, and many of the paid ones as well. Its goal is psychological manipulation, in the form of personalized advertising to persuade you to buy something or do something, like vote for a candidate. And while the individualized profile-driven manipulation exposed by Cambridge Analytica feels abhorrent, it’s really no different from what every company wants in the end… Surveillance capitalism is deeply embedded in our increasingly computerized society, and if the extent of it came to light there would be broad demands for limits and regulation. But because this industry can largely operate in secret, only occasionally exposed after a data breach or investigative report, we remain mostly ignorant of its reach…
Regulation is the only answer.The first step to any regulation is transparency. Who has our data? Is it accurate? What are they doing with it? Who are they selling it to? How are they securing it? Can we delete it…? The market can put pressure on these companies to reduce their spying on us, but it can only do that if we force the industry out of its secret shadows.

The article also insists that “None of this is new,” pointing out that companies like Facebook and Google offer their free services in exchange for your data.

But he also notes that there are now already 2,500 to 4,000 data brokers just in the U.S., including Equifax.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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