The Daily DeX 08/08/2019: How Big Brother Lost, Then Won

+“Amazon Requires Police to Shill Surveillance Cameras in Secret Agreement” | Vice | Caroline Haskins

“Amazon’s home security company Ring has enlisted local police departments around the country to advertise its surveillance cameras in exchange for free Ring products and a “portal” that allows police to request footage from these cameras, a secret agreement obtained by Motherboard shows. The agreement also requires police to “keep the terms of this program confidential.”

Dozens of police departments around the country have partnered with Ring, but until now, the exact terms of these partnerships have remained unknown. A signed memorandum of understanding between Ring and the police department of Lakeland, Florida, and emails obtained via a public records request, show that Ring is using local police as a de facto advertising firm. Police are contractually required to “Engage the Lakeland community with outreach efforts on the platform to encourage adoption of the platform/app.”

In order to partner with Ring, police departments must also assign officers to Ring-specific roles that include a press coordinator, a social media manager, and a community relations coordinator.”

→Big Brother lost his job because he was inefficient. Over time, all-eyes-on-us surveillance produces diminishing returns. Soviet-era East Germany teetered on the brink of collapse because it devoted so much of its anemic GDP to watching and listening to everyone. Surveillance is no longer about Big Brother watching every move. The more Big Brother watched, the less he comprehended because he didn’t have the processing power. In other words, mass surveillance doesn’t pay off unless it can scale. The only way it can really scale is by convincing us that the ideal and most productive surveillance regime is one in which we surveil ourselves as nodes (homes) in a distributed network (neighborhood). The surveillance offered by Amazon’s Ring smartphone security system convinces us that we can take control of our own security, when in fact we’re giving it away to those who claim to protect us but are really harvesting us for our data. 1984‘s Big Brother spent so much of his resources on war abroad and control at home that a society that didn’t need Big Brother was unthinkable. Surveillance capitalism makes possible new business models in which the labor required is outsourced to customers, while the data produced is returned to owners as profit. There’s no way this business model can fail.


Where are your hammers for these nails?

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Image Source: Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

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