I’m willing to bet that, at some point this week, many of you have clicked a box indicating that you’ve “read and agreed to the terms and conditions” of something. Of Anything.
I’m also willing to bet that only a handful of you carefully read over that document before getting on with whatever newfangled service or app you’re working with, even after hearing the horror stories coming out of Silicon Valley in regard to Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and more. In fact, a great many of us have been receiving an extraordinary amount of emails from our app providers telling us that they’ve updated their “privacy policies” as well…which is certainly related to the continued fallout from that very scandal.
But still, we simply click away a lot of our rights, and our value.
You see, you are giving away something for free that Facebook, Amazon, and Google all pay a whole lot of money for: Your browsing data.
The internet has provided advertisers with an unfettered opportunity to monitor the way you interact with the world around you, especially now that the world around you is covered by the internet. Every keystroke, search term, vacation booking, or car review you read creates a profile of you and your consumer habits. This is like finding a treasure map for the predatory vendors of our nation, and folks such as Facebook and Amazon who harvest this info are selling it for top dollar.
They are selling your personality to advertisers, and you’re letting them through the terms and conditions.
What’s worse? They’re putting wiretaps in our homes now, disguised as ambiguously female personal assistants.
Take the latest story out of Portland, Oregon in which a family has found conclusive evidence that their Amazon Alexa was spying on them.
“My husband and I would joke and say I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” said Danielle, who did not want us to use her last name.
Every room in her family home was wired with the Amazon devices to control her home’s heat, lights and security system.
But Danielle said two weeks ago their love for Alexa changed with an alarming phone call. “The person on the other line said, ‘unplug your Alexa devices right now,'” she said. “‘You’re being hacked.'”
That person was one of her husband’s employees, calling from Seattle.
“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.'”
Danielle listened to the conversation when it was sent back to her, and she couldn’t believe someone 176 miles away heard it too.
This chilling tale is just the tip of the iceberg as well, considering that the most powerful technology companies in the world are all competing for efficacy in the realm of data collection. Soon, the Google/Facebook/Amazon user data war will begin in earnest, and we will be nothing more than fuel for their corporate machines.