[LINK] RFC: 'Digital Surveillance Economy'

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Apr 6 16:22:35 AEST 2017

Request to the Link Institute:

I've tried to summarise in 2 pages what the mechanisms are whereby the Internet industry rapes and pillages personal data.  See here:

                  The Digital Surveillance Economy

Feedback on errors and omissions much appreciated!

Be warned:  the paper as a whole is academic and turgid (but of course comments on any and all aspects would be helpful).

Thanks!  ...  Roger

          Risks Inherent in the Digital Surveillance Economy:  
                         A Research Agenda

The digitisation of a considerable amount of information about the world relevant to business has given rise to a new phase of 'digitalisation'.  This involves a substantial shift in business models and industrial organisation, such that the interpretation and management of the world through human perception and cognition has been to a considerable extent replaced by processes that are almost entirely dependent on digital data.  Some applications of digitalisation, in addition to creating opportunities, give rise to threats to individuals, and risks to people, society and polity.

A review of the notions of information society, surveillance society, the surveillance state, and surveillance capitalism provides a basis for appreciating the nature of what is referred to here as 'the digital surveillance economy' - a new form of business model that was initiated by Google at the beginning of the 21st century.  This model is predicated on the acquisition, expropriation and consolidation of very large volumes of personal data, and its exploitation in order to target advertisements, manipulate consumer behaviour, and price goods and services at the highest level that each individual is willing to bear.  In the digital surveillance economy, not only is the consumer converted from the customer to the product, but consumers' interests have almost no impact on the process, and are ignored.  In the words of the model's architects, users are 'bribed' and 'induced' to make their data available at minimal cost to marketers.

The processes of digitisation of the individual, followed by the digitalisation of business processes, has given rise to a digital surveillance economy.  This harbours great threats to the interests of individuals, and to the relationship between corporations, on the one hand, and society and polity on the other.  The new economic wave may prove to be a tsunami that swamps the social dimension and washes away the last five centuries' individualism and humanism.  Alternatively, institutions may achieve regulatory adaptation in order to overcome the worst of the negative impacts;  or a breaking-point could be reached and consumers might rebel against corporate domination.  A research framework is suggested, within which the alternative scenarios can be investigated. 

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 6916                        http://about.me/roger.clarke
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/ 

Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law            University of N.S.W.
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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