Apr 03, 2019

Surveillance capitalism: 1,000 contracts

Previously: Surveillance capitalism: definitions

On p. 19-20 of my copy of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff:

Wi-Fi–enabled and networked, the thermostat’s intricate, personalized data stores are uploaded to Google’s servers. Each thermostat comes with a “privacy policy,” a “terms-of-service agreement,” and an “end-user licensing agreement.”

These reveal oppressive privacy and security consequences in which sensitive household and personal information are shared with other smart devices, unnamed personnel, and third parties for the purposes of predictive analyses and sales to other unspecified parties.

Nest takes little responsibility for the security of the information it collects and none for how the other companies in its ecosystem will put those data to use.

A detailed analysis of Nest’s policies by two University of London scholars concluded that were one to enter into the Nest ecosystem of connected devices and apps, each with their own equally burdensome and audacious terms, the purchase of a single home thermostat would entail the need to review nearly a thousand so-called contracts.

I believe this is the paper she cites.

I like this example because it draws out how clear it is that no one is expecting end users to do any of the reading undergirding the legal obligations they're signing on for. (You wouldn't have time to read all the Nest ecosystem contracts, even if you wanted to!)