This text is a part of a collection on company surveillance highlighting civil liberty, privateness, cyber safety, security, and tech-product consumer exploitation threats related to related merchandise which might be supported by the Android (Google) OS, Apple iOS, and Microsoft Home windows OS.
Within the first article of this collection, Surveillance Capitalism: Monetizing the Smartphone Consumer, we discovered that an individual’s private and skilled (“collective”) digital DNA is probably the most useful commodity in the world.
We additionally discovered that data-driven know-how suppliers akin to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Fb, Amazon, and Baidu are accumulating, utilizing, sharing, promoting, buying, and aggregating an individual’s collective digital DNA for monetary achieve with out compensating the product consumer who produced the collective digital DNA within the first place. That is merely referred to as “tech-product user exploitation.”
In essence, tech customers have turn out to be uncompensated info producers who’re being exploited for monetary achieve on the expense of the consumer’s civil liberties, privateness, cyber safety, and security, whether or not the consumer is an grownup, baby, or enterprise skilled.
An individual’s collective digital DNA, related to using all lively smartphones all over the world, is value billions—if not trillions—of dollars on the open market, and Google, Apple, Microsoft, and different tech giants are in a race to gather and exploit that collective digital DNA.
As per my final article, data-driven know-how suppliers don’t immediately promote a consumer’s collective digital DNA to 3rd events akin to advertisers. All events promote entry to the consumer by way of intrusive and exploitative content material corresponding to net browsers (see Apple–Google instance under) and intrusive apps which are pre-installed into the product and/or distributed by way of app shops.
Instruments to Harvest Digital DNA
There are numerous strategies data-driven know-how suppliers use to gather an individual’s collective digital DNA, together with predatory working techniques (OSs), intrusive content material (apps, widgets, and so on.), social media platforms, and exploitative phrases of use.
Let’s take a look at working techniques and apps.
Consider the OS as prime real-estate. The OS is vital in that many corporations resembling Google, Amazon, Fb, and Baidu can pay the OS builders billions of dollars for entry to the product consumer, which is the case with Google and Apple, despite the fact that Google is an OS developer as properly.
In 2014, Google paid Apple $1 billion in order that Google can be the default search engine on the pre-installed Safari net browser on the Apple iPhone. The iPhone consumer was unable to uninstall the intrusive Google product (although might change default serps in later variations of iOS), forcing the iPhone consumer to simply accept Google’s exploitative phrases of use.
Google is reportedly set to pay Apple as a lot as $9 billion in 2018 and $12 billion in 2019 to take care of their standing because the default search engine for the Safari net browser. The Apple-Google deal is a prime instance of how the tech-product consumer is purchased and bought on the open market.
Why is Google paying Apple billions of dollars to realize entry to Apple product customers? As a result of Google doesn’t need anybody to flee its grasp.
Many Apple customers who don’t need something to do with Google are unaware of the truth that Tim Prepare dinner—and/or Apple—bought them out to Google with out asking.
Google, Apple, and Microsoft are the three dominant OS builders, which signifies that these three corporations are the gateway to a consumer’s collective digital DNA related to a product supported by the Android OS, Apple iOS, or Microsoft Home windows OS.
Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all within the hardware manufacturing enterprise as properly, however all corporations involved minimize offers with know-how product producers to have their respective working methods adopted by the unique gear producer (OEM), comparable to Sony, Samsung, LG, HTC, Ford, and the record goes on.
Controlling the OS of a related product places Google, Apple, and Microsoft answerable for which corporations are enabled to develop uncontrollable, pre-installed content material that’s programmed to give the content material developer the power to watch, monitor, and knowledge mine the product consumer for monetary achieve.
Pre-installed content material builders have an enormous benefit over third-party (e.g. Google Play) content material builders as a result of, normally, intrusive pre-installed content material can’t be managed, disabled, or uninstalled by the product consumer as a result of the content material is rooted.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Fb have collectively turn out to be probably the most useful corporations on the earth due partially to the gathering and use of an individual’s collective digital DNA slightly than simply driving revenues from the sale of hardware, software program, automated voice know-how, social media providers, books, films, and different retail merchandise.
Corporations that may surveil and knowledge mine telecom subscribers by way of telecom-related merchandise, resembling smartphones, have an enormous benefit over all different rivals.
Give it some thought, corporations similar to Google, Apple, and Microsoft management the OS that helps billions of telecom-related merchandise, akin to smartphones and pill PCs, which are supported by protected telecom infrastructure ruled by the Federal Communications Fee (FCC). A smartphone is definitely a mobile phone with an built-in PC.
In essence, all corporations involved have discovered a option to wiretap the collective telephones and PCs of billions of people, youngsters, companies, professionals (docs, attorneys, journalists), enterprise leaders, authorities officers, members of the army and regulation enforcement, and even regulation makers from round the world.
How does an organization not develop into probably the most highly effective corporations on the earth if that firm is enabled to watch, monitor, and knowledge mine telecom subscribers by way of telecom-related units supported by protected telecom infrastructure ruled by the FCC?
How did all events do it? Reply: They management the OS of all merchandise involved, plus help them with Computer virus malware within the type of an app.
The tech-product consumer has develop into the product on the market, however the difficulty is far worse, as a result of the consumer is being exploited for monetary achieve by way of telecom-related and retail merchandise that require cost to take part, resembling smartphones, pill PCs, TVs, automobiles, voice-automated merchandise, and so on.
How did we permit ourselves to be exploited for monetary achieve on the expense of privateness by the very tech corporations we patronize with our belief, loyalty, and hard-earned cash? Reply: So-called “free stuff.”
Surveillance and data-mining enterprise practices rooted in surveillance capitalism is a enterprise mannequin that originally supported “free stuff,” reminiscent of net browsers, software program, apps, on-line providers corresponding to social media websites, and video video games together with Indignant Birds and Sweet Crush Saga.
Nevertheless, related merchandise and providers that require cost to take part, reminiscent of smartphones, are supported by the surveillance capitalism enterprise mannequin that has been adopted by the three dominant OS builders Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
Now you perceive the importance relating to the power to regulate the OS of a related product.
The Silicon Valley Matrix
Google, Apple, and Microsoft additionally develop intrusive content material resembling apps, widgets, and emojis, that are merely programmed to offer the content material developer the power to take full management of a related product, reminiscent of a smartphone, pill PC, TV, car, toy, voice-automated product, and so on.
Sensors, community connectivity, and hardware that may be managed by content material builders embrace the accelerometer (navigation, movement, and so on.), International Positioning System, mobile community, WiFi, Bluetooth, nearfield communications, safe digital (SD) card, subscriber id module (SIM) card, energy synchronization cable, bio-metric authentication, environmental sensors, digital camera, microphone, and quantity management.
As well as, intrusive content material, similar to apps, can also be designed to provide the content material developer the capacity to make use of the sensors (e.g. GPS/accelerometer) and hardware (e.g. digital camera/microphone) with a purpose to surveil the product consumer 24 hours a day, 7 days every week, 365 days a yr, whereas additionally enabling the content material developer to knowledge mine surveillance knowledge (e.g. location knowledge) and delicate consumer knowledge generated by the product consumer.
Don’t take my phrase for any of those claims, learn the unpublished (hidden in gadget) Android app permissions related to intrusive pre-installed Android (Google) apps that the product consumer can’t uninstall, management, or disable in lots of instances.
Management over hardware such because the digital camera, microphone, and quantity management provides content material builders the power to take footage plus report audio and video with out consumer consent or information. (Screenshot by way of Rex M. Lee)
Intrusive content material, comparable to apps, can also be programmed to conduct multi-source knowledge mining, which means that the apps are programmed with the power to succeed in past the host system (e.g. smartphone) to gather a individual’s collective digital DNA from a number of related sources (e.g. TV, automobiles, social media providers, and so on.) owned by the product consumer.
As mentioned in my earlier article, corporations akin to Google and Fb will exploit the addictiveness of their merchandise for monetary achieve, even on the expense of the product consumer’s security, whether or not the product consumer is an grownup, youngster, or enterprise skilled.
Via the Android Baidu net browsers and apps distributed by way of Google Play, these corporations will even promote their product customers out to nations akin to China.
Google distributes Chinese language surveillance and knowledge mining know-how by way of Google Play. (Screenshot annotated by Rex. M. Lee)
Anyone who downloads Android Baidu merchandise, reminiscent of the online browser proven above, is agreeing to offer Baidu the power to watch, monitor, and knowledge mine their collective digital DNA always.
An individual’s private and skilled digital DNA is made up of surveillance knowledge, delicate consumer knowledge, and multisource knowledge acquired by way of multisource knowledge mining.
The collective digital DNA collected from a single smartphone consumer by all events involved is astonishing and horrifying to say the least.
Because of uncontrollable, pre-installed content material (OS, apps, and so forth.) that the tech-product consumer can’t uninstall, there may be as many as 15 or extra corporations from all over the world, together with corporations from China, which are enabled to concurrently monitor, monitor, and knowledge mine a single smartphone consumer relying on the OS.
All corporations involved are accumulating almost 100 % of all surveillance and delicate consumer knowledge related with using the system, plus collective digital DNA acquired from a number of sources related to the host system.
It’s clear that predatory surveillance and data-mining enterprise apply rooted in surveillance capitalism have to be addressed by the FCC, Federal Commerce Fee, Division of Homeland Safety, state attorneys basic, regulation makers, and telecom suppliers due to civil liberty, privateness, cyber safety, security, and tech product consumer exploitation threats.
Within the subsequent article, I’ll clarify how the phrases of use give all corporations involved the power to monitor, monitor, and knowledge mine a tech-product consumer for monetary achieve.
Rex M. Lee is a privateness and knowledge safety marketing consultant and Blackops Companions analyst and researcher: www.MySmartPrivacy.com
Views expressed on this article are the opinions of the writer and don’t essentially mirror the views of The Epoch Occasions.