Your digital exhaust
Posted by Don McLenaghen on July 12, 2013
An extended look at the ‘bad’ of Big Data…its dark side. This is a Six Part Series based on my discussion on Radio Freethinkers broken down into bite sized pieces.
Part 2: How your data makes billionaires.
Corporations collect mountains of data on everyone they come in contact with. That is why EVERYTHING now on the internet wants you to ‘register’ even if it’s for free content.
Because of the way the internet was originally set up, our emails are like our fingerprints…each is unique and uniquely identifies us. Or the new trend to get you to ‘login’ using your social media account (like Facebook). If your email account is like a fingerprint, then your Facebook account is like your DNA.
Amazon, Future Shop, Expedia…even CTV online keeps track of every page you look at, every purchase you make, where you are…they cross reference that with other visitors, how the economy is doing, current cultural or news events…they can add your friends list, your likes, etc…all this goes into a digital ‘barrel’ with your name on it.
Every email you send is “anonymously” scanned by a computer…Google does it, Hotmail…they don’t do this to find out your secrets but it’s all part of the product they do sell…market information. So they want to know how many emails are talking about Ford…be it Mayoral or car variety…what are the trending catch phrases.
One of the best ways to see how Big Corporate Data has become ubiquitous with our lives is cloud computing. We think of clouds as white fluffy things…harmless and above us all floating in the sky.
But the reality is there is no cloud…cloud computing is simply a doublespeak term for their servers in LA or where ever. When you upload your information…your photos…your files to the cloud you are in actual fact downloading them to Google’s server farms…or Microsoft or Facebook…you get the idea.
We trust them…but why? Because it’s the cloud thing and that’s not really anywhere, so it must be safe. And yet this ‘service’ provides this companies more opportunity to collect more of our meta-data.
This process generates tonnes of meta-data. By data mining this information, ‘data merchants’ generates profiles on everyone. This can be used by other companies to predict buying habits, style trends or even voting results.
Some use this data directly but more often these herds of profiles are sold to third parties like cows to a butcher. Buyers use this information…processing thorough complicated algorithms to pinpoint the exact amount of money they can get from you and which products presented in what way will do it.
Our information, that they collect from us…we give away for free and they use it to make millions…billions.
This is perhaps the banal side of Big Bad Data…it’s not really good but for the most part harmless.
This information though has other uses besides commerce and this is where we move from Corporate Big Data to Government Big Data.
Obama has been given much praise for his use of social media to ‘motivate and bring out the base’. But if we sit back and think about it for a moment…A government official used corporate and private databases to find out information about us so as to target us…to motivate or if you’re in a more conspiratorial mind, manipulate us to do their political bidding. In Obama’s case, vote Democratic.
He is not unique…we had our own RoboCall scandal in Canada where Big Data was used to attempt subversion of the democratic will.
There has been much lamenting about the dumbing down of the electorate and part of it can be placed at the hands of Big Data….as Big Data begins to know more about us than we do of ourselves, we get the age of focus groups taken to the next hyper level.
Before anything is officially stated, there are leaks to the internet…updates on Facebook…posting on forums…then someone turns on something like Google Analytics or Google Trends or whatever tool they have at hand, they mine this Big Data to find out what is the lowest common denominator…what can be said without offending anyone, while still giving the appearance of policy.
That is the innocuous side of Big Government Data…there are worse sides.
In Part 3, we will explore what is meta-data and why you should protect it.
- Head of Senate anti-terror committee unaware of metadata spying program
- NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily
- Verizon forced to hand over telephone data – full court ruling
- Was the U.S. intelligence boss telling the truth about data collection of Americans? Depends on the definition of ‘collect’
- Fisa court oversight: a look inside a secret and empty process
- Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data
- The NSA’s Prism: why we should care
- The NSA and Pentagon Dream of Total Information Awareness
- We need a privacy debate. We probably won’t get one
- NSA scandal: Microsoft and Twitter join calls to disclose data requests
- NSA lawsuits could break new legal ground
- U.S. Government Uses Early Knowledge Of Microsoft Bugs For Spying
- Did Hollywood Help Make NSA Surveillance Permissible?
- On Prism, partisanship and propaganda
- Church Committee report
- Communications Security Establishment Canada
- Privacy czar to probe Canadian impact of U.S. data program
- Canadian spy watchdog has known about data-mining for seven years
- NSA Spying On Canadians, CSEC Capable Of Similar Surveillance
This entry was posted on July 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm and is filed under Blogs, Don's Blogs. Tagged: Amazon, Big Bad Data, Big Corporate Data, big data, CTV online, data mining, digital exhaust, digital shadow, DNA, Expedia, focus groups, Future Shop, Google, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Hotmail, meta-data, metadata, RoboCall. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.