The belief that privacy is private has left us careening toward a future that we did not choose, because it failed to reckon with the profound distinction between a society that insists upon sovereign individual rights and one that lives by the social relations of the one-way mirror. The lesson is that privacy is public — it is a collective good that is logically and morally inseparable from the values of human autonomy and self-determination upon which privacy depends and without which a democratic society is unimaginable.
These platforms have hijacked the digital medium to sell certainties about users.
Surveillance capitalism’s economic imperatives were refined in the competition to sell certainty. Early on it was clear that machine intelligence must feed on volumes of data, compelling economies of scale in data extraction. Eventually it was understood that volume is necessary but not sufficient. The best algorithms also require varieties of data — economies of scope. This realization helped drive the “mobile revolution” sending users into the real world armed with cameras, computers, gyroscopes and microphones packed inside their smart new phones. In the competition for scope, surveillance capitalists want your home and what you say and do within its walls. They want your car, your medical conditions, and the shows you stream; your location as well as all the streets and buildings in your path and all the behavior of all the people in your city. They want your voice and what you eat and what you buy; your children’s play time and their schooling; your brain waves and your bloodstream. Nothing is exempt.
Justice is therefore decided by three key questions: Who knows? Who decides who knows? Who decides who decides who knows? According to Zuboff, the only way of fixing this is through the introduction of new laws.
Without law, we scramble to hide in our own lives, while our children debate encryption strategies around the dinner table and students wear masks to public protests as protection from facial recognition systems built with our family photos.
This all continues Zuboff’s discussion associated with her book.