Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wee Phuk Yu Social Credit Can't Hold A Candle To American Sicherheitsdeinst Fur Profit


theatlantic  |  COVID-19 has emboldened American tech platforms to emerge from their defensive crouch. Before the pandemic, they were targets of public outrage over life under their dominion. Today, the platforms are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently boasted, “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good.”

Over the past decade, network surveillance has grown in roughly the same proportion as speech control. Indeed, on many platforms, ubiquitous surveillance is a prerequisite to speech control.

The public has been told over and over that the hundreds of computers we interact with daily—smartphones, laptops, desktops, automobiles, cameras, audio recorders, payment mechanisms, and more—collect, emit, and analyze data about us that are, in turn, packaged and exploited in various ways to influence and control our lives. We have also learned a lot—but surely not the whole picture—about the extent to which governments exploit this gargantuan pool of data.

Police use subpoenas to tap into huge warehouses of personal data collected by private companies. They have used these tools to gain access to doorbell cameras that now line city blocks, microphones in the Alexa devices in millions of homes, privately owned license-plate readers that track every car, and the data in DNA databases that people voluntarily pay to enter. They also get access to information collected on smart-home devices and home-surveillance cameras—a growing share of which are capable of facial recognition—to solve crimes. And they pay to access private tow trucks equipped with cameras tracking the movements of cars throughout a city.

America’s private surveillance system goes far beyond apps, cameras, and microphones. Behind the scenes, and unbeknownst to most Americans, data brokers have developed algorithmic scores for each one of us—scores that rate us on reliability, propensity to repay loans, and likelihood to commit a crime. Uber bans passengers with low ratings from drivers. Some bars and restaurants now run background checks on their patrons to see whether they’re likely to pay their tab or cause trouble. Facebook has patented a mechanism for determining a person’s creditworthiness by evaluating their social network.