PRISM and the Social Media-Surveillance-Industrial Complex

PRISM is not, as Facebook, Apple and Microsoft want to make us believe, a small surveillance operation, but rather a massive and large-scale global surveillance project.
PRISM shows that the military-industrial complex makes use of a surveillance-industrial complex, into which social media are entangled

WikiLeaks – Alternative Internet Medium and Watchdog Platform – and the Critique of the Power Elite

The truth about the WikiLeaks Afghanistan documents is that the platform has the potential to make visible the scale of brutality, violence, and horror of warfare and military conflicts. WikiLeaks can be seen as an alternative media project: it tries to provide information that uncovers the misuse of power by powerful actors, it is an Internet-based medium that enables critiques of power structures. The problem of the WikiLeak self-description is that in the first third of the text, only documenting government corruption is mentioned, whereas documenting corporate irresponsibility and corporate crimes is not. The problem that remains is that in the WikiLeaks self-description, corporate crimes and corporate corruption are only mentioned late and that the notion of civilizing corporations is adopted.

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“The world will be better if you share more“: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Economic Surveillance

The August 2010 issue of Wired Magazine features a story about privacy on Facebook. Is Facebook intended for, as Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “making the world a better place”, or are there other ends?

The Google Street View Surveillance Machine

It is a fact that Google has while taking panorama photographs of streets in cities all over the world (in 34 countries) for its Street View application also collected information about wireless networks and data from open wireless networks that are not password-secured. Maybe it is time to stop talking about corporate social responsibility and to start focusing on the analysis, exposure, and investigation of corporate social irresponsibility.

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The Judicial Art of Living in the German Surveillance Society: German Constitutional Court Declares Data Retention as Unconstitutional

The German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has declared the retention of telecommunication connection data by service providers and the access of law enforcement to these data as unconstitutional. It said in its judgment from March 2nd, 2010 that data retention is not proportionatley adequate and violates article 10, paragraph 1 of the German Basic Law.

Remarks on the BBC documentary “Virtual Revolution: The Cost of Free “

The BBC recently aired a documentary in its ”Virtual Revolution“ series that focused on ”The Cost of Free“. The overall topic were the risks and problems posed by Internet platforms that are operated by corporations such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, News Corporation, and others.
Critical political economist Dallas Smythe in his seminal paper “On the audience commodity and its work” suggested that advertising business models of the media are not primarily based on the commodification of content, but the commodification of the audience. In case of the Internet, one can speak of the Internet prosumer commodity.

Google Buzz: Economic Surveillance – Buzz Off! The Problem of Online Surveillance and the Need for an Alternative Internet

Google Buzz is part of Google’s empire of economic surveillance. It gathers information about user behaviour and user interests in order to store, assess, and sell this data to advertising clients. Google’s online product advertising for Buzz says: “The first thing we all do when we find something interesting is share it. More and more of this kind of sharing takes place online. Google Buzz is a new way to share updates, photos, videos, and more”.

Do people really want to share vast amounts of private data and location data not only with their friends, but also with Google? Can Google be considered as a friend of all humans, or doesn’t it rather accumulate power that can also cause great harm to humans? Do people really always want to tell others where they currently are? Are people really interested in sharing their location data not only with selected friends, but also with Google?

Google Buzz and Economic Surveillance

I find interesting about the NY Times article and the reactions of some users to Google Buzz that they primarily stress the danger that China, Iran, etc could use Buzz for engaging in the (political) surveillance of political oppositionists and that they label such endeavaours totalitarian, while at the same time they do not provide a critique of the economic surveillance machine constituted by Google’s expanding services, its collection, storage, analysis, and commodification of personal data, and its market dominance.