Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Corporate Surveillance


Copyright Getty Images
I noticed something a mite uncanny the other day.

Every three weeks I drive my bride to a hospital on the other side of town for breast cancer treatment. This routine will continue for six months. We both enter the appointment time into our smartphones, and the first time we drove there, I used Google maps to identify the best route.

When I connected the phone to the car’s Bluetooth the other day on our way to the hospital, a message popped up on the screen, correctly predicting our destination, and arrival time. This means, I assume, that some corporation (obviously Google) knows our habits and remembers them.

“Not an issue”, I hear you say. Well, perhaps not, but I don’t remember giving permission in my Google setup for this to happen. I no doubt did give such permission, but It’s honoured in the breach, not the observance.

Corporate surveillance is alive and well, and if we own and use a smartphone, we are stalked routinely. Using the word “stalked” may be over the top, but I challenge you, gentle reader, to come up with a better description of the reality.

What should change?

Perhaps there should be an on-screen dialogue describing (briefly, and in words of one syllable) how the corporation in question uses what it knows about you to sell you products and services. This could pop up each time you log into the platform. It would be a little annoying, but hey, no more annoying that dialogue popping up uninvited as I described above.

The issue has already resulted in Google being breached in the EU.

On January 21, 2019, French data regulator CNIL imposed a record €50 million fine on Google for breaching the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. The judgment claimed Google had failed to sufficiently inform users of its methods for collecting data to personalize advertising. Google issued a statement saying it was “deeply committed” to transparency and was “studying the decision” before determining its response.

Frankly, I reckon their commitment to transparency is about as deep as the puddle in my driveway after a summer storm.

Blog Archive