Mar 31 2014

Big Data and the Future of Corporate Surveillance

These days little surprises us every time we hear of a new way in which the National Security Agency has been spying on us. But while anger at government surveillance unites much of the left and right, we often don’t stop and think about corporate surveillance.

By corporate surveillance we mean the myriad ways in which our shopping habits are tracked online, and increasingly tracked in the real world. Ever notice how if you’ve been browsing swimsuits online, every other unrelated website you peruse shows you ads of the suit you considered buying?

Most of us have smart phones today but texting and selfies are not the only use they have. Increasingly those phones can be used to track your habits and send personal data about you back to the company. In our future lie similar “smart” appliances – refrigerators that track what we eat and lights that double as cameras. Stores will track our very movements to determine what we gravitate to. We may even be offered different prices for the same product based on our habits and lifestyle.

And, corporate surveillance creates databases that government agencies increasingly tap into, as the NSA is already doing with Google and Facebook.

GUEST: Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Privacy and Technology Project, and a resident with the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, and an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at New York University. She recently wrote an article with Matthew Harwood on TomDispatch.com called Invasion of the Data Snatchers: Big Data and the Internet of Things Means that Surveillance of Everything.

Click here to read Catherine Crump’s article.

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