Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces—Ontario and Saskatchewan—maintain a “Risk-driven Tracking Database” that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people’s lives. …
Information about people believed to be “at risk” of becoming criminals or victims of harm is shared between civilian agencies and police and is added to the database when a person is being evaluated for a rapid intervention intended to lower their risk levels. Interventions can range from a door knock and a chat to forced hospitalization or arrest.
Sounds faintly Orwellian, the cops using healthcare records to decide who gets a knock on their door, based on an algorithm. What could go wrong, eh?
China has blocked millions of “discredited” travellers from buying plane or train tickets as part of the country’s controversial “social credit” system aimed at improving the behaviour of citizens.
This is where ubiquitous surveillance by the state (directly or via contractors) eventually leads. This is why you shouldn’t trust the folks who want to dispossess you of your car; their motives are not what they professs.
Tip from the Instapundit, who predicts some Chinese people will find their social credit card inoperable in the bread lines of the near future.
Today I begin a series of posts of observations and comments about what I call cyber fascism, the harnessing of ubiquitous information technology to impose political, commercial, and social control over much of the developed and developing world.
My first real inkling of the enormity of our situation came as I prepared material for a course I teach in statistical methods, where we discuss the ethics of experiments with human subjects, informed consent, and data protection and privacy. I quickly learned that despite well-intentioned efforts like The Belmont Report or the ASA’s Ethical Guidelines, the world of data privacy is pretty much the Wild West, rife with confidence men, bandits, snake-oil dealers, and robber barons. But this was just the tip of the iceberg; privacy encroachments linked to a worldwide cultural affliction. Witness
- the Chinese “social credit” system
- viral “outrage mobs” on Twitter
- tabloid “tell all” behavior and cyber-bullying on Facebook
- creepy “recommendation systems” on Amazon
- third party data mining of user data from Google and Facebook
- Google’s evolution of “sucker lists” into “behavioral prediction markets”
- and more…
All of these are manifestations of small groups (I hesitate to use the term “elites”) to exploit and control societies for their own purposes, without concern for the privacy or welfare of the individual.
Zuboff focuses on one aspect of cyberfascism, the industrial exploitation of personal data in market economies (with Google the primary mover). As Hackett notes, the phenomenon is much larger than this, and raises the spectre of a new totalitarianism around the world.
I’m certainly not the first to see this situation. Like a fish, I spent most of my life unaware of the water. But the water has changed, and now it wants to change ME. It’s time to sound the alarm.
After all, whether the state captures industry, or industry captures the state, don’t they all become fascists in the end?