Examples of Digital Privacy Abuse

Research

Kosinski et al. were able to predict psychological and demographic traits of individuals with surprising accuracy using a median of 68 Facebook likes. For example, they were able to infer sexual orientation of men, political affiliation, and drug use with 88%, 85%, and 65% accuracy respectively. cite:kosinskiPrivateTraitsAttributes2013

Corporations

Financial

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, said that “the data managed by the consumer reporting companies – and the scores generated from that data – exert a tremendous influence over the ways and means of people’s financial lives.” https://web.archive.org/web/20210525221056/https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/prepared-remarks-cfpb-director-richard-cordray-consumer-advisory-board-meeting-march-2017/

Advertising

Moat Analytics, a subdivision of Oracle, provides, among other services, services to measure and improve “consumer attention”. In their marketing brochure, they describe some of the ad metrics that they can measure:

In-View Time
the duration that the user keeps the ad visible.

Touch Rate
on mobile, whether or not your finger touches the ad, regardless of whether or not you click.

% of Video Played In-View
what percentage of the video you watched while the frame was in view.

Employment

As of 2017, 71 % of companies rate people analytics — the use of algorithms in hiring and compensation decisions—as “highly important” to their business.

Often, they pay companies like Cornerstone to score potential candidates. For example, candidates may be scored more favourably if they use certain browsers (Chrome/Firefox over Safari/Edge) and have lower commute times. cite:adler-bellDataficationEmployment While trends like these may be broadly true, they unintentionally discriminate those who must use the default browsers on library computers or who cannot afford to live near urban centres, for example.

The excellent paper The Datafication of Employment puts it eloquently: “Those identified as financially desperate receive ads for predatory loan products and for-profit colleges, while those identified as affluent are targeted for high-paying jobs and low-interest banking products.” cite:adler-bellDataficationEmployment

The keyword here is predatory. The collection of our data enables companies to extract the maximum profit from us with a complete disregard for equality of opportunity. What’s more, this system is bifurcated—those treated a certain way are oblivious to the treatment of others.

US Government

Foreign governments

Foreign governments incite polarization using ads, for example by promoting both pro-Islam and anti-Islam protests in the same place at the same time.

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