The Monitor, May/June 2019

The Surveillance Economy
May 1, 2019
4.51 MB

Google (Alphabet), Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon. They are among the world's most valuable and most trusted companies, but increasingly the most scrutinized for their data-hoarding practices, monopolist tendencies, poor treatment of workers and willingness to bend or even break privacy laws in the pursuit of growth. More data gives these and other tech firms a more accurate picture of individual tastes and broader societal trends. Companies, governments, political parties and anyone else with a vested interest in altering your behaviour or changing your mind will pay handsomely for this information, driving the surveillance economy further and further into our personal lives.

Are we the consumer, the product or the raw material in this business model? Is there a limit to how much personal information can be mined and privatized? Is “surveillance capitalism” really any different from regular capitalism applied to the internet? Can we separate out the good from the bad in the on-demand online economy? Where does the state fit in? And is there anything we can do to change course? These are not easy questions to answer. We give it a shot anyway in this issue of the Monitor, offered to you cookie-free and without terms of service.

Here's a sample of what you'll find in the issue:

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Cover illustration by Jessica Fortner.