We live in sandboxes built by multinational technology platforms. We keep everything there: our appliances, cars, clothes, entertainment, music, sports and food. The sandbox has become our entire personal life, health, and home.
Data is price.
It's called the American Dream because that's exactly what it is—not reality. And when discussing ideas such as Universal Basic Income (UBI), people suggest supplements of $1,000 or $500 a month. However, if you cannot live a decent middle class life on that amount of money now, how can you in the future? It's another dream—great in theory but being implemented, rationalized, and supported in a way that makes it more akin to Universal Basic Poverty.
Why is that?
The conversation around UBI includes people who will never need nor use it, while the demographic that will utilize it is excluded. This is common and is often rationalized by the same imbalance of representation as 'merit-based'. And while there is some truth to that philosophy, there is also something else: contempt for the poor¹.
And it becomes cyclical, for as the wealthy seek increasing consolidation of their wealth, the population representative of 'poor' grows until the classifier is more akin to 'public'.
This is one of many reasons why it is so troubling to see super-firms on acquisition sprees (Alphabet acquisitions, Alibaba acquisitions). The super rich (SoftBank) have the financial flexibility to expand their borders to account for, and dictate, globalism.
Which explains why Alibaba was recently welcomed as the newest member to ALEC (and this one). ALEC, is a group of wealthy corporations that ghost-write United States legislative bills that are then proposed by members of Congress—and often times become laws. ALEC is a bold example of private capital's control of government.
This is why it is so important to choose companies willing to protect your home privacy and security, because what they are really protecting, what you are choosing to protect, is your control: over your life, future, freedom, and happiness.
It's not just about preventing a criminal from breaking and entering or stealing your identity (although it accounts for that too), it's about reserving your individual power to express and act upon your indivisible rights as a human being.
So, when you support a company, politician, legislative bill, or government (whether directly or indirectly—inaction is a form of action), you are supporting the denigration of your control over your own, inalienable, human rights.
And it is why you can read about Google and the CIA investing in the future of web monitoring almost a decade ago—or read this in-depth report on their history, or this Salon investigation into the ties between tech companies and the NSA (another reason why TunnelBear's acquisition by McAfee is troubling).
As reported by John Thornhill in the Financial Times, from Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data, data has "largely superseded price as the most effective signalling mechanism in the economy"². Thornhill's article goes on to predict that data rich firms will render innovation and competition by new companies obsolete and suck the life out of existing companies.
Meaning our world, digital and otherwise, will be ever-increasingly run by data-rich conglomerates like Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Alibaba, Facebook, Microsoft and Samsung (and those who own them).
Further, Alibaba recently purchased Ele.me (a food delivery app in China) in a bid against rival Chinese tech company Tencent (both are instrumental in China's tyrannical social credit system). Alibaba and Tencent are together worth over $1 trillion.
Data is the sand to our sandbox and we are giving it into the hands of a few while the rest steal it.
It's been, sadly, quite a vindicating month: the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica news, China testing facial recognition sunglasses, social media continually exposed as the data lab for tyranny, an Amazon broadcast partnership with British police, and the CLOUD act passing.
So, we've included some more proactive options and hopeful tidbits below:
Adroid users update these settings to make it more difficult for Facebook to track your calls and texts.
Use Signal for messaging on your mobile device.
SXSW appears to be waking up to social media propaganda, albeit slowly.
¹ Chomsky, Noam. Neoliberalism is Destroying Our Democracy. Interview. The Nation, 2017.
² Thornhill, John. Big Data. Financial Times, 2018.