In this report, Wolfie Christl and Sarah Spiekermann explain how a vast number of companies have started to engage in constant surveillance of the population. Without peoples’ knowledge a network of global players is constantly tracking, profiling, categorizing, rating and affecting the lives of billions – across platforms, devices and life contexts. While special interest groups have been aware of the corporate use of personal data for a while now, the full degree and scale of personal data collection, use and – in particular – abuse has not been scrutinized closely enough. This gap is closed with this book.
Based on detailed examples “Networks of Control” answers the following questions:
- Who are the players in today’s personal data business? How do online platforms, tech companies and data brokers really collect, share and make use of personal information?
- Which data is recorded by smartphones, fitness trackers, e-readers, smart TVs, connected thermostats and cars? Will the Internet of Things lead to ubiquitous surveillance?
- What can be inferred from our purchases, calls, messages, website visits, web searches and likes?
- How is Big Data analytics already used in fields such as marketing, retail, insurance, finance, healthcare and work to treat us differently?
- What are the societal and ethical implications of these practices? And how can we move forward?
Their investigation not only exposes the full degree and scale of today’s personal data business, but also shows how algorithmic decisions on people lead to discrimination, exclusion and other social implications. Followed by an ethical reflection on personal data markets the authors present a selection of recommended actions.
Wolfie Christl and Sarah Spiekermann: Networks of Control. A Report on Corporate Surveillance, Digital Tracking, Big Data & Privacy