The creeping loss of personal privacy seems to increase exponentially. The public is aware of the growth. A June report issued by the Pew Research Center revealed: “Americans are concerned about the data collection practices of smart speakers, and similar listening devices.” (“Yes They’re listening,” by Austin Carr et all, Bloomberg Businessweek, Dec. 16, 2019, pg. 43.) Nonetheless, consumers continue to buy these electronic gadgets. Do they hope their information will be lost in the quotidian of other data?
It won’t. The internet’s capacity to store bits and bytes is infinite. Add facial recognition to that data and civilization will confront one of the greatest threats to human rights in the history of the world. Still, we buy not seeming to care that Alexa can follow us into our bedrooms.
Do we really accept the benign excuse companies provide for their invasions: they need to know us better to serve us better? Are we to be mollified by their assault because the gathering of our information creates new jobs, work that is unsatisfying and poorly paid? (Ibid, pg. 40)
Have we given any thought to the economic power of the FAANGs that now hold more sway over the financial world than banks? Already tech companies have grown too large to need those institutions. When they require money, they borrow from themselves. Keeping large amounts of money pooled in once place rather than flowing through the economy leads to what economists call secular stagnation. (“Remarks,” by Peter Coy, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 23, 2919, pg. 9.)
Edward Snowden warned us the military-industrial complex had metastasized to include technology. For his efforts, he was branded a traitor.
On the question of privacy, perhaps we need to be awakened by the angry screeching of a child. Where is our Greta Thunberg on the issue of surveillance? Or have the young become enmeshed like the rest of us? Perhaps our champion should be old, someone with an unapologetic remembrance of things past. Where, I ask, is our Maggie Kuhn?