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Surveillance-Based Capitalism

In 2019, Shoshana Zuboff published a book called The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier Power. In that book, the sociologist offers a vision of the authoritarianism of large technology companies, based on the active surveillance that companies like Google, Facebook and now TikTok exercise over us.

A year earlier, on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, Brett Larson conducted an experiment that was revealing because it proved our suspicions: Big tech companies track our every move, and we users don’t have defending.

In Larson’s segment, he begins by talking about the agreements we agree to when we install the “free” apps from those companies; the reality is that we are paying with data on our behavior, information that is sold to advertisers, for whom we are the target.

The experiment started with two smartphones, which did not have a SIM card installed, so they were not connected to any mobile network or WiFi network; aside one of them, he put himself in airplane mode. Technically none of those mobile phones were enabled to be tracked. But we didn’t have Google’s expertise.

Brett Larson proceeded to visit various important points in Washington, DC, capital of the United States. On his journey he stopped at the Senate building, a children’s medical center and the Washington National Cathedral; In total, his trip was approximately 24 kilometers, and then he finished his trip, an hour later, at the Fox offices in said city.

Once at their destination, Fox’s research team connected both phones to a WiFi-enabled device, which automatically saved a record of the data it sent to Google’s servers as soon as they had an Internet connection. The phone that was not in airplane mode recorded 121 locations, 130 activities, and 152 biometric records, totaling 300 kbps of data; the phone that was in airplane mode sent even more information to Google.

Unlike industrial capitalism, which benefits from the exploitation of natural resources and labor, in surveillance capitalism, the business model is based on the collection, presentation and analysis of behavioral data through methods that They watch our every move. If we have a mobile phone, it is a fact that Google will always be with us.

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