Cracked Labs has this report explaining how digital tracking is being used by thousands of corporations to monitor, influence, and analyse individuals with the personal data they collect and share between brokers.
Several key developments in recent years have rapidly introduced unprecedented new qualities to ubiquitous corporate surveillance. These include the rise of social media and networked devices, the real-time tracking and linking of behavioral data streams, the merging of online and offline data, and the consolidation of marketing and risk management data. Pervasive digital tracking and profiling, in combination with personalization and testing, are not only used to monitor, but also to systematically influence people’s behavior. When companies use data about everyday life situations to make both trivial and consequential automated decisions about people, this may lead to discrimination, and reinforce or even worsen existing inequalities.
In spite of its omnipresence, only the tip of the iceberg of data and profiling activities is visible to individuals. Much of it remains opaque and barely understood by the vast majority of people. At the same time, people have ever fewer options to resist the power of this data ecosystem; opting out of pervasive tracking and profiling has essentially become synonymous with opting out of modern life. Although corporate leaders argue that privacy is dead (while caring a great deal about their own privacy), Mark Andrejevic suggests that people do indeed perceive the power asymmetries of today’s digital world, but feel “frustration over a sense of powerlessness in the face of increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive forms of data collection and mining”.
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