Problem

Surveillance capitalism

Nature:

Surveillance capitalism is an economic system centered around the commodification of personal data with the core purpose of profit-making. The concept of surveillance capitalism, as described by Shoshana Zuboff, arose as advertising companies, led by Google's AdWords, saw the possibilities of using personal data to target consumers more precisely. While industrial capitalism exploited and controlled nature with devastating consequences, surveillance capitalism exploits and controls human nature with a totalitarian order as the endpoint of the development.

Increased data collection may have various advantages for individuals and society such as self-optimization (Quantified Self), societal optimizations (such as by smart cities) and optimized services (including various web applications). However, collecting and processing data in the context of capitalism's core profit-making motive might present a danger to human liberty, autonomy, and wellbeing. Capitalism has become focused on expanding the proportion of social life that is open to data collection and data processing. This may come with significant implications for vulnerability and control of society as well as for privacy.

Economic pressures of capitalism are driving the intensification of connection and monitoring online with spaces of social life becoming open to saturation by corporate actors, directed at the making of profit and/or the regulation of action. Therefore, personal data points increased in value after the possibilities of targeted advertising were known. Consequently, the increasing price of data has limited accessibility to the purchase of personal data points to the richest in society.

Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST