“Few, if any, presentations at conferences in the coming years will manage to combine the intellectual depth and delivery skills shown by Software Freedom Law Center director Eben Moglen in this penetrating analysis of privacy and technology.”
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“To build a working model of the human being permitting at least theoretically effective prediction of future behavior, even if just good for a point, or two or three or four of additional leverage over your future commercial behavior based on information you have voluntarily supplied, is one of the most exciting business models of the 21st century.
It promises to replace commercial broadcasting, for example, by well targeted, highly useful, deeply appropriate advertising interweaved with your media stream in a way that you approve of because it brings you information you need at the moment that you want it most, and therefore biases your choices and controls your conduct at a level of efficiency 20th century mass market advertising only dreamed about.
Structures of social prediction based upon your click stream, your payment habits, your stored contact lists, your photographic libraries, your shared video preferences, your Amazon wish lists, and all the rest. Structures of social prediction and control based upon mining that data offer opportunities for government or private market use employment for the control of human beings that are very exciting indeed.
Oh, but it’s not real control. It’s only control over what I eat, or where, or what smell like. It’s only control over how I do my dating, and whether I have this or that, or the other automobile in the parking lot. In other words, it’s only really about the superficialities of my life, right?
Ask yourself how deeply the political parties in the electoral democracies of the West are involving themselves in this same thing. And ask what the consequences are of that kind of data mining applied to the actual movement of elections.
Through better targeting of effort and resource, in a fashion which we can think of as entrepreneurial democracy on the march? Or for kinds of vote suppression and discouragement of voters, interferences with the effective use of the franchise, which we would have no difficulty characterizing as anti-democratic and largely despotic?”