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  • “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff

    Home Forums Code Red – Security/Privacy advisories “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff

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      • Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        Just finished reading this doorstop of a book authored by a former Harvard Business School professor who has done extensive research into the scraping and selling of personal data and the implications therein.  The usual suspects- Google, Facebook and the rest of the social media sites, Amazon, Microsoft, as well as others are moving well beyond targeted ads, as intrusive as that is, and are developing techniques and algorithms for control of personal behavior.

        Satya Nadella (MS), Mark Zuckerberg, and Eric Schmidt (Google) among others are excitedly boasting about these new developments and trial runs have shown them they can do it.  This is happening in a lawless environment both here in the US and in Europe, with only minimal pushback by governments.  These attempts at regulation have so far been steamrolled by the above-mentioned perps.

        It’s by now well known that Google and Facebook have made billions by scraping personal info.  If your cell uses Android, you are tracked online as well as in the real world and your communications are duly transmitted to Google.  If you use Amazon’s Alexa or one of the copycats, your house has a 24/7 listening post that sends data to its host.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • This topic was modified 1 month ago by Slowpoke47.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2357872
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        The above post was interrupted by a power failure. I wanted to add that if you don’t want to read the whole book, at least look at Part III which has some suggestions for what you can do on a personal level to push back.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2357913
        b
        AskWoody MVP

        The usual suspects- Google, Facebook and the rest of the social media sites, Amazon, Microsoft, as well as others are moving well beyond targeted ads, as intrusive as that is, and are developing techniques and algorithms for control of personal behavior.

        Satya Nadella (MS), Mark Zuckerberg, and Eric Schmidt (Google) among others are excitedly boasting about these new developments and trial runs have shown them they can do it.

        Could you reveal where Microsoft/SatNad is boasting excitedly about their trial techniques to control personal behavior?

        Windows 10 Pro version 21H1 build 19043.985 + Microsoft 365 (group ASAP)

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2357935
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Slowpoke has quoted, from that book, this:

        Amazon, Microsoft, as well as others are moving well beyond targeted ads, as intrusive as that is, and are developing techniques and algorithms for control of personal behavior.

        Satya Nadella (MS), Mark Zuckerberg, and Eric Schmidt (Google) among others are excitedly boasting about these new developments and trial runs have shown them they can do it.

        I am intrigued, but before I am also concerned enough to run to buy the book, I would like to hear a bit more about just what “control of personal behavior” is supposed to mean here. Are, somehow, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. all set to start turning people into some kind of zombies desperate to give them money buying things they do not need, or voting for Nadella’s favorite candidates in national elections? And exactly how are they going to achieve that? And among those potentially soon-to-be-zombies, must I also be counted, given that I use Amazon for shopping items I cannot find easily elsewhere (large kitchen sponges, for example), or even cannot go to find elsewhere, in these days of self-isolation, as well as for streaming movies and shows?

        So I am personally interested in also learning about this: What would be the symptoms of being personally controlled by Amazon, for example?

        This looks like a serious enough issue that someone went and wrote a big book about it, so I am seriously asking these questions and a further explanation of what this is all about shall be welcome.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2357954
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          Please note that your italics are my distillation of the author’s assertions over large portions of her book, not a direct quote per se.  This book is 500+ pages of serious reading, I spent several weeks reading it.  My comments are an overview of this issue as told by this author, who, to me, has credibility.

          According to her, these comments were made at various developer conferences and later leaked by attendees.  She also says she has interviewed these guys (and others) and they doubled down on expressing their intentions.  She characterizes their attitudes as in the realm of triumphant (my word, not hers).

          I can’t cite chapter and verse, as I would have had to take notes for the 500 pages.  But, as mentioned above, the prose is a little lighter in Part III of the book and offers some advice for maintaining some modicum of privacy.  These internet giants are more recently trying to do damage control by offering the option of deleting personal info, but folks who know more that I do have characterized these offers as a smoke screen.  Not a surprise- why would they cut off their major source of revenue?

           

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

          • #2357992
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Slowpoke, Could you, in your on words, describe maybe two examples of what these new manipulation techniques are like? Thanks.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

            • #2357997
              Slowpoke47
              AskWoody Plus

              In general, as I understand it, they use the personal “profile” of an individual, assembled from scraping and collating info from as many sources as they can, to present only customized search results selected by the site and designed to keep that user there.  Just as they started with targeted ads, they expanded the practice to include search results (Google) and news feeds (Facebook) that lead the person in the direction they want.  Disclaimer- never been on Facebook, so my details there may be fuzzy.

              My understanding of the boasts mentioned above is that they see it as a first step in controlling behavior.  The text in the book is occasionally over my head technically, but that’s what I get from it.  Apparently they have done some testing of this and the results were (to them) encouraging.

              It’s also unsettling to know that these “profiles”, being online, are hackable.

              Linux Mint Mate 19.2

              1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2358010
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                Slowpoke, thanks.

                I would say that limiting the search based on one’s profile Google, etc. have in some computer, somewhere, might work for people that always look for the same kind of thing, but not so well for those that need to look into several different kinds of things that vary over time. So I wonder how would that work for those, like me, who are after certain kinds of not very often searched for information, looking to find out about things new to us, because we are working on new projects and doing things we have not done before. Or for big companies and government agencies whose interests can be quite wide-ranging.

                Limiting what one can find out doing Web searches seems quite at variance with the point of using search engines and might be self-defeating for those who try doing that. Those who are happily living in some kind of ideological bubble might not even notice the difference, while the rest will find their open-ended searches with this kind of engine less than worth doing.

                I have noticed that, sometimes, perhaps in this case, perhaps not, the management of big companies do very foolish things, very enthusiastically, and that creates a big following by people who use those managers’ ideas as guiding beacons that throw their radiance on where the real money is to be made, and this following snowballs, starting a sort of gold rush towards those places that might well end up in a big bust. Does anyone here remember something like that happening in the years leading to 2001?

                Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

                1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2358024
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        There is also this article that seems to ad to what Slowpoke47 is commenting about:

        https://grahamcluley.com/how-much-facebook-stalks-you-on-the-internet/

        I am do not have a Facebook account, so I cannot add my own experience to the story, but it might be of interest in this context to some.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2358097
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        According to Ms. Zuboff, the manipulating of, for example, Google search results is further “refined” by algorithms that analyze the profiles of the searcher’s contacts, also scraped, as well as his/her prior web usage, to form a more focused picture of that searcher.

        Repeatedly throughout the book the developers as well as the names mentioned above are quoted as seeking “certainty” in their efforts to characterize a given user and turn that data into revenue.  Seems to be a successful business model- how many hundreds of billions is Google worth these days?  And without charging for their services!

        And to think- all I’ve done my whole life has been to just work for a living.  No billions here!  No imagination, I guess.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2358106
        Drcard:))
        AskWoody Lounger

        This is a true current story of how deep they mine your data.

        I am used to targeted ads from my searches.  Whatever I searched for appears in the ads of web sites (I think the weather channel is worst).  This does not bother me unless I have to move around the ad to see the info I want.

        This year, like prior years, I downloaded software to do and file my income tax return.  Days after I filed my return, an ad for income tax software appeared (one that I did not use).  In the graphics of that ad it showed a person getting a return.  The amount of that return was the exact amount of my return after filing my taxes.  I thought it was a fluke, but days latter I saw a different ad guaranteeing max return with a different graphic of a return.  The amount of the return on that graphic was the exact amount of my return.

        I’m not knowable enough in these areas to determine how the ad found out the exact amount of my return as it was supposed to be a secure encrypted transmission; but with two different ads displaying the same exact amount it had to happen.

        What I think is really stupid about this….If they already know that I filed my taxes, then why try so hard to sell me software that I don’t need any more.

        Anyway, after this I started using a VPN at those sites that I can…some sites won’t allow VPN access.

        Dana:))

         

         

        • #2358151
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          Most disturbing.  Adds credibility to what this author has written.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • #2358183
          anonymous
          Guest

          Did you use a web app to fill out the forms?  Lots of people do, some are free or cheap compared to $100 or so to download a program.  Except they’re not really free or cheap.   Take the next step and get a subscription email service if you’re using gmail or whatever.  A VPN is a great idea.  Try connecting to a different VPN server if sites block you.  You could also tell the VPN company, most want to know about blocks, although that’s kind of a privacy hit to you.  Stupid to block VPN’s, what’s so special about a site when it’s the only one blocking?

          I don’t do any financial stuff with my phone, my kids won’t even do that, phones are so easy to hack and can’t legally be very secure or private, except maybe a burner, privacy by destruction 🙂

          A good site to learn more and find options, “Sven” seems to try hard:

          Home

      • #2358174
        anonymous
        Guest

        None of this would bother me if it added any value to what I do but it doesn’t; it takes away value!  So, I regained it.

        Remember that so called Tech is largely about advertising and advertising has a huge marketing component.  Making things look new is a big deal, when the reality of “Tech” is there haven’t been any real technology advancements in a decade or more beyond taking in and spewing out more and more data.  Most of which, if MS is any indication, goes into a black hole of bytes; Windows still has constant problems after almost 3 decades.

        Every week, month, whatever, Techvertising rewords and hypes the same stuff.  Over and over.  Tech is the least trusted industry and falling fast because of their constant lying and security failures.  Pew tracks this pretty well.

        Why aren’t governments doing more?  “Tech” contributes so much to the global ecomony, a step function disruption would be disastrous.

        Human Engineering has been done (or attempted) since forever; you can’t avoid it but you can foil it.  Seems there are many users even here who just let Windows fly, some who shut it down somewhat and a small group who shut down everything but what’s needed to make the OS and browser work acceptably.

        Good thing is, when they’re aware, humans make dreadful test subjects!  The last level above is what you need to quit worrying about data scraping.   Out of the box, Windows is a good OS buried in so much kiddie and advertising junk, it’s truly awful.  Slow and buggy.  With all that disabled, it’s fast and predictable, no Buy Stuff Cops slapping your wrists and sending you to jail in The Store.  No browsing that starts out smooth then pokes you more and more often the longer you stay online.  NO ADS anywhere!

        Windows Home is an ad server, don’t use it, use Pro.  Learn gpedit, get a system level ad blocker (AdGuard, maybe), junk Chredge, use Firefox with many config changes (search arkenfox on git hub for the most complete list), junk Defender (eset is low impact, e.g.), Use the Firewall “let an App through” switches to block whatever you don’t like, buy an Asus wireless router that you can install wrtMerlin on, put your DNS servers there and go to DoT. Use Voxel on your Netgear router, their oem firmware is a data scraper and unreliable.  Etc.

        Takes some doing; the concept is the same for each component, any OS, and the results are well worth it.  Every link in your chain has incentive to scrape data, they all have to be examined, ‘cuz data scraping is the “Tech” business model and worth billions (trillions?); gubmint ain’t gonna do much about it.  Not yet, not until serious monopoly legislation is passed and enforced.  Some day.  Maybe.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2358262
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Anonymous:

          Making things look new is a big deal, when the reality of “Tech” is there haven’t been any real technology advancements in a decade or more beyond taking in and spewing out more and more data.

          Well, there have been and at least one is worrying: the so called AI procedures that, while not very good at whatever they are meant to do, YET, when it comes to snooping on people (i.e. using big personal data scoops to figure out who is shopping for what, or recognizing someone in a photo), they are already pretty good for well-defined tasks with set rules, such as being the unmatched world masters of GO and Chess. And location tracking works also well for the advertisers, at least for figuring out in which city of which county of which US state I live. Although I use a good ad blocker and some other protection, I still get those top-of-the-search Web page “hits” mark as “AD”, that offer goodies for people living in my general area. But their offers have nothing to do with me, they are for things I do not want to buy or I am not looking for. Try looking, for example, for “water sprite” with and without quotation marks, and see what those “AD” links you’ll get are all about. Not mythological creatures, for sure.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

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