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Motoring With Big Brother

In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism [1], Shoshana Zuboff writes about how auto insurance companies are working to get cars kitted out with all kinds of sensors (“telematics”) that provide information to them about how individual drivers behave. In other words, your insurance company would be surveilling you every time you got behind the wheel. Health insurers want the same kind of thing to monitor whether or not clients are complying with their exercise regimens, dieting as prescribed, and so forth. Consulting firms are encouraging this. Zuboff writes:

Deloitte acknowledges that according to its own survey data, most consumers reject telematics on the basis of privacy concerns and mistrust companies that want to monitor their behavior. This reluctance can be overcome, the consultants advise, by offering cost savings “significant enough” that people are willing “to make the [privacy] trade-off,” in spite of “lingering concerns… .” If price inducements don’t work, insurers are counseled to present behavioral monitoring as “fun,” “interactive,” “competitive,” and “gratifying,” rewarding drivers for improvements on their past record and “relative to the broader policy holder pool.” In this approach, known as “gamification,” drivers can be engaged to participate in “performance based contests” and “incentive based challenges.”

If all else fails, insurers are advised to induce a sense of inevitability and helplessness in their customers. Deloitte counsels companies to emphasize “the multitude of other technologies already in play to monitor driving” and that “enhanced surveillance and/or geo-location capabilities are part of the world we live in now, for better or worse.”

The data generated by these sensors in cars will also allow corporate customers to “lure you into real places for the sake of others’ profit” in ways that go beyond advertising. That would be straightforward. The surplus data would be sellable to third parties who will find ways to direct drivers. Plus, the data on driver behavior would be used in “behavioral futures markets in which third parties lay bets on what drivers will do now, soon, and later. … These bets translate into pricing, incentive structures, and monitoring and compliance regimes.” More:

In both operations, surplus drawn from the driver’s experience is repurposed as the means to shape and compel the driver’s experience for the sake of guaranteed outcomes. Most of this, as MacKay advised, outside the driver’s awareness while she still thinks that she is free. [Emphasis the author’s. — RD]

Zuboff wonders why we are not outraged by this, why we sit back and accept this control as inevitable. Good question. I think she answers it in the passages above. People are induced to think that it’s either morally good, or fun. And if that doesn’t work, they accept it as inevitable. That’s how I roll — and if you’re honest, it’s how you roll too. What choice do we have?

This section in Zuboff’s book makes me think about the coercive behavioral control behind corporate “diversity and inclusion” programs. I wrote about the program in one major global corporation (which I could not name) yesterday — this, after seeing documents leaked to me by an insider.  [2] Looking at the language used to sell this program internally, it’s striking to see the language it deploys to convince workers that this coercive social engineering is good for them. The language talks about virtue and happiness, as well as business success. You don’t like it, or have suspicion? What, you hate diversity? You hate inclusion? You don’t want the company to succeed, is that it? You must be a bad person.

It’s quite Orwellian, attempting to convince employees that spying on each other and monitoring each other for compliance with the ideological regime is an opportunity to help your fellow employee improve. You are not forced to comply, but the company makes it clear that not joining the program will be noted, and non-joiners will miss out on salary bonuses.

If you want to escape these coercive woke programs, well, good luck, non-conformist. They’re everywhere. You want to work in a major industry, then you have to sign on for it. Enhanced corporate thought and behavior modification capabilities are part of the world we live in now, for better or worse. People who have been brought up with this ideology, and who don’t remember a world without it, will think you’re a madman, and someone to be watched carefully.

Let me leave you with this lede from a recent Wired story about Big Tech merging with Big Brother [3]:

A friend of mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People’s Republic of China, was walking to work.

When he offered to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she “needed the steps” on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating [4], which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.

Ha! Stupid commies! Look at those Chinese sheeple, just accepting that invasion of privacy and manipulation at the hands of their one-party state! Good thing we would never agree to anything like that in the Land of the Free, eh?

Sarcasm off. In China, they do it by government fiat. Here, we do it through corporations and consumer convenience. And by the time we think, “Hey, that’s going too far,” it’s too late to turn back.


89 Comments (Open | Close)

89 Comments To "Motoring With Big Brother"

#1 Comment By Alice On April 23, 2019 @ 11:37 pm

People under 30 have a hard time understanding what this “privacy” thing is.

They don’t really understand why anyone is outraged that your TV is watching you, or that your employer is checking you Fitbit, or why your car shouldn’t report if you were speeding.

One reason for this is the K-12 education system that systematically required children to disclose their personal information, feelings, and identities to the schools in their written assignments over the last 30 years.

The demise of teaching content was intentional; most teachers simply wished to level the playing field for kids in assignments by having them all capable of writing about something they knew: themselves. but the second purpose was for themselves; teachers who don’t know grammar, spelling, or rhetoric can’t teach grammar, spelling, or rhetoric. Instead, they have kids spend all their time talking about and writing about feelings.

The same therapeutic model that’s reduced college students to emotional preschoolers has been in k-12. Everything is about how one feels about a situation. That’s how morality is determined. Privacy means not sharing ones thoughts on moral matters– what kind of community member won’t share moral values?

In the process, these attitudes have reduced privacy to something dark and sinister, where only those with something to hide would want to protect themselves.

The fame of the Kardashians shows how little we now value a private life.

#2 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 23, 2019 @ 11:58 pm

NFR: I knew you would find some way to blame conservatives. — RD

Conservatives have a lot to answer for… more often than not, more of them than not have boosted employer prerogatives, diminished union power, held back the minimum wage, and extolled the liberties of corporations to do as they please with their “private property.”

#3 Comment By Gromaticus On April 24, 2019 @ 12:29 am

JonF says:

SamM, not a bad idea. I once had a car whose Check Engine was on all the time. I Spent $$$ trying to figure out why. There was never a problem that anyone could fix.

As the old joke goes: What does it mean when the Check Engine Light comes on? That the Service Manager’s boat payment is due.

#4 Comment By Ken’ichi On April 24, 2019 @ 2:07 am

People are induced to think that it’s either morally good, or fun. And if that doesn’t work, they accept it as inevitable. That’s how I roll — and if you’re honest, it’s how you roll too. What choice do we have?

Is it so inevitable, that even the Amish will adopt it? No, is not. So you do have choice.

If you want to escape these coercive woke programs, well, good luck, non-conformist. They’re everywhere.

Even in Amish villages?

You want to work in a major industry, then you have to sign on for it.

So don’t work in major industry, then. Accept that those are for Outsiders, not Your People. Like medieval Jews or modern Amish, minimize contact with outside world — accept that Your People are not Their People, their ways are not your ways, and their institutions are for them, not you and yours.

People who have been brought up with this ideology, and who don’t remember a world without it, will think you’re a madman, and someone to be watched carefully.

So retreat behind the walls of your ghetto, or into the distance of your rural village, where they will be less inclined to “watch carefully.” Again, everything you call for in posts like this, everything you want your Benedict Option to accomplish, the Amish are already doing, and thriving. Why do you so firmly refuse to consider emulating their successful example?

#5 Comment By Ken’ichi On April 24, 2019 @ 3:04 am

>>Phil S


>>Ryan Booth

I can’t wait for the publication of Benedict Option 2: Head For the Hills. I’m only half-joking.

Seems to me you will wait some time. Even with all like this pointing to how “BenOp” will have to “go Amish” to great degree to have any hope of suceeding, Mr. Dreher seems unwilling to accept it.

#6 Comment By Joy in IL On April 24, 2019 @ 5:14 am

I have a friend who is a higher-up in a large auto/home/life insurance company. I was telling her why I didn’t want to use the little gizmo that detects how and when you drive (ideally the gizmo tells them that you are a safe driver that doesn’t drive at dangerous times, etc., and then indicates you deserve a lower premium). She just asked if I carry a cell phone with me, even an old dumb trac fone. Then she told me that all of my movements were already potentially being tracked by her company, with or without the gizmo. I’m not sure if she was exaggerating, but she seemed in earnest. Then she went on to defend use of credit scores as a variable to determine insurance premiums, which irritated me even more…

#7 Comment By JonF On April 24, 2019 @ 6:17 am

Re: I knew you would find some way to blame conservatives.

Who’s been the main force behind eliminating worker protections, destroying unions, etc? If the shoe fits…
I’d love to say The Right made ts own bed and can darn well have a good nap. Except the Right made that bed for all of us.

#8 Comment By JonF On April 24, 2019 @ 6:24 am

Re: Although we are still 15 – 20 years away, self-driving cars will happen.

Cars with an auto=drive feature to be used on freeways and the like will hap[en. True self-driving cars will always (or at least for a very long time_) remain just twenty years away, rather like nuclear fusion.

Re: And Health insurance and DNA will have potential benefits and questions on insurance coverage.

Don’t assume we’ll still have health insurance in anything like its current form in fifty years.

#9 Comment By Shank Rosenthal On April 24, 2019 @ 6:35 am


Red Barchetta isn’t about surveillance, it’s about safety systems. In the story, “A Nice Morning Drive”, on which the song is based, in the near future car safety systems become so effective that it’s almost impossible for a car’s occupants to be slightly injured let alone killed in a crash. Drivers of these technological marvels begin to seek out older cars in order to deliberately crash into them and kill or maim those onboard. Surveillance systems would also record evidence of actual crimes and driverless cars would prevent predatory crashing even if they did route us through the giftshop on every trip. I’d rather have my 73 Pontiac Ventura back myself.

You can read the original story here: [5]

#10 Comment By Lloyd A. Conway On April 24, 2019 @ 8:22 am

Sam M and Phil S, I am with you. I recently bought an old Dodge Dakota, manual windows and door locks, nothing ‘modern’ except the after-market radio (and I am calling the junk yard today about a stock unit to replace it), and I rather like the driving experience. The distractions are minimal, and there’s something to be said for simplicity and privacy. perhaps, if no one will build a new car/truck that’s designed for voluntary simplicity, someone will get into the old car rebuild business with this as a specific focus, something along the lines of ‘certified used,’ with a limited warranty, etc.
It’s the same with computers, in a way. If one cares to try Linux, one can find a used unit,load a Linux operating system on it, and escape some of the privacy concerns that come with Windows.
We’ll have many other opportunities to choose. As long as they’re not outlawed, the choice still remains with us.

#11 Comment By Anna On April 24, 2019 @ 8:35 am

@Siarlys Jenkins: “Even such a conservative advocate of personal liberty as Erin Manning has argued in favor of voters being required to show photo ID…”

I don’t get equating this with totalitarian states that require people to carry ID or “papers” all the time, simply because they’re in a public place, which is what the Senator you quote was describing. Those are obviously entirely different scenarios. Why exactly is it crazy to suggest that someone who wants to vote should be able to prove their right to do so as a citizen? To me it seems crazy not to, really. Sure, back when everybody in town knew each other, that wasn’t needed, but in our time, how else can you avoid widespread voting fraud?

#12 Comment By Rob G On April 24, 2019 @ 8:58 am

“Years ago I heard a really interesting talk by a Russian guy (whose name of course I can’t remember) who said that soon Google will be the biggest health-provider and that they will price their packages according to how you behave”

Sounds like that might be Evgeny Morozov.

#13 Comment By muad’dib On April 24, 2019 @ 9:05 am

I dread the day our old TV, with a picture tube, dies, and we’ll not only have to figure out how to use the new one but how to keep it from spying on us.

Just don’t connect it to your WIFI network. TCL makes TV without WIFI connectivity. Unfortunately your cable box will rat you out to the cable company. If you get a ROKU, the ROKU will rat you out either to Netflix, Hulu or Prime.

Just remember the basic rule of advertising, you’re either the buyer or the bought. If you want quality media, you have to pay for it & insist that they take no advertising money.

#14 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On April 24, 2019 @ 9:06 am

@Pogonip, the elegant way would require some hardware and software hacking skills. But that’s getting pretty common on the WWW, with forums describing how to do it. At a high level here is what is involved.

Open up the back and use a magnifying lens to read the IC part numbers. One of them should be a microcontroller and another an accelerometer. The ICs should have data sheets that describe their pinouts. All the accelerometers I’ve seen use the four wire I2C bus. Two wires are power and ground, the other two are digital data lines. You would need to use a fine tipped soldering iron to solder jumper wires to the bus.

Solder the other ends of the jumpers to a second microcontroller’s I2C bus, and program it to be a data logger. This is so common I bet you could find a tutorial online. Go walking and log the I2C bus activity.

After you have some good samples cut the power to the real accelerometer, and reprogram the second microcontroller to respond to I2C bus with the recorded samples. The Fitbit’s microcontroller should see that as actual I2C data and be spoofed.

The brute force approach would be to build a pendulum and tweak it’s amplitude and period to see if you could fool it. Easier, but won’t get you bragging rights among hardware hackers.

#15 Comment By Elijah On April 24, 2019 @ 9:30 am

@Harve and @Hound – There is no question about the fact that conservatives, generally, need to take their lumps as far as empowering the almighty dollar above all else.

But in all honesty, do you really think things would be much different under President Clinton? Please. The Democratic Party and many (most?) liberals are just as fond of Big Business and dark money and all that when it benefits them. Just look at the number of companies willing to sponsor the most ridiculous social engineering claptrap just to get those liberals to go away. And they do.

Bernie got a good reception in Trump country because he represents a turn away from the same old “elite” governance by our Republicrat leaders, which is why they voted for Trump in the first place. He got a bally-ragging at Harvard because some of his positions are pretty foolish (e.g. giving all felons the right to vote).

And @ Harve: there is nothing stopping you and your fellow employees from walking off the job. If what you’re asking is for license to do that without consequence, that’s another matter entirely.

#16 Comment By Rob G On April 24, 2019 @ 10:15 am

“You are only noticing the negative impacts of this because it’s your oxen that are getting gored by the Corporate Power now, and not just the commies and pinkos.”

C’mon. Rod mentioned this in a book he wrote in 2006, for gosh sakes. Corporatism has become ever more “woke” since then, and surveillance capitalism is a different beast entirely. So the issue isn’t whose ox is being gored, but awareness of a new manifestation of a already existing danger. You’re not dealing here with a bunch of folks who until recently were Club for Growthers or something.

#17 Comment By MikeCA On April 24, 2019 @ 10:41 am

Slightly OT but Thomas makes a good point about buying vintage and/or truly well made items. So much of what people buy falls under that rubric of “penny wise,pound foolish” ie false economies. Yet price isn’t always an indicator of quality either. Not to single them out but I’ll use Eddie Bauer as an example. At one time they sold well priced but well constructed items;I have some sweaters made in the UK & Australia that I bought well over 15 yrs ago and they look practically brand new. The winner though is a pr of leather gloves, made in the US that I’ve had for probably close to 30 yrs; when the stitching in the fingers started to fray they had them repaired for me. The repair was expertly done and has held. I’m not sure they even do that sort of thing anymore. The quality of their mdse has declined dramatically. Better to wait for good quality items to go on sale (they always do) or buy vintage.
You can often buy vintage/antique items of excellent quality that cost a fraction of what their not so well made counterparts do in a retail setting. Or depending upon where you live there’s always the option of local craftsmen who still produce quality goods at a fair price. If you live in an area with an Amish/Mennonite/Hutterite population you can buy beautifully crafted furniture at a good price that will last a lifetime. Of course this assumes you like to keep things for a lifetime. “Quick fashion” in clothing and homewares where you only keep things for a short time is an awful thing both financially & for the environment. Some of it gets recycled but most is headed for the landfill. Quality not quantity. I’d like to think that’s something people of any political stripe could embrace.

#18 Comment By Jones On April 24, 2019 @ 10:53 am

“Sarcasm off. In China, they do it by government fiat. Here, we do it through corporations and consumer convenience.”

The most important truth this culture refuses to understand: slavery to your libido is still slavery.

#19 Comment By TheSnark On April 24, 2019 @ 11:14 am

How can corporations legally amass all that personal data? I thought we had a constitutional right to privacy. Isn’t that the grounds upon which the Supreme Court decided Roe vs Wade?

Or am I missing something here?

#20 Comment By Sam M On April 24, 2019 @ 12:27 pm

Sid finster:

“The problem with that old dumb Scout is that it never would pass crash tests or emission tests, not to mention CAFE standards, all without major rework.”

Why not? As I stated, the rebuild could use modern materials and a newer engine. No reason it couldn’t incorporate crumple zones and other stuff. Throw in air bags if they are required. I just don’t want an iPad in the dash, or a $120 sensor in every wheel telling me when to put air in it. I am OK rolling down the windows. So… no design costs, Not money spent on fancy aesthetics. Not a computer on board, hopefully.

Marie: WIth regard to washing machines, you have no idea.

Two Thanksgivings ago we were near my wife’s hometown, staying with her friends with our eight kids. ALL eight of our kids, and the wife, got the barfs. Those poor people. Far worse, they had a super high efficiency washing machine that used like two tablespoons of water. Trust me: When eight kids just barfed on eight sets of sheets and eight comforters and eight pillows, you need the LEAST efficiency washing machine possible. One that uses ALL the water.

#21 Comment By Kirk On April 24, 2019 @ 12:55 pm

Apple CEO Tim Cook argues that government will need to develop and enforce some regulation in order to protect privacy. He says that Europe’s GDPR is a starting place.

For those who don’t want to wait for government to solve privacy issues (it may be a LONG wait), good ideas have been floated here. These are the ones I have implemented:

(1) I use Linux instead of Windows
(2) When I use a browser, it is mostly Firefox
(3) When I really want browsing privacy (or to bypass paywalls), I use Brave with a New Private Tab
(4) I use blocking software such as Ublock, Privacy Badger, and Adblock Plus
(5) I have a TCL TV and will be sure to buy a non-WIFI TV in the future
(6) I almost never turn my smartphone on. When it’s on, they’re going to track you.
(7) I have a friend who is thinking of moving from Google Docs to a paid document provider
(8) I am considering moving from Gmail to an email provider based in Switzerland and focused on privacy
(9) I use a junk email account for vendors and organizations I don’t trust, and often use a fake name when contacting them initially
(10) I use Facebook only for browsing two groups (and maybe posting to those groups several times a year; Facebook groups have replaced the bulletin boards of yesterday). Other than groups, Facebook is a whirlpool of fakeness and time-wasting. I never post to my Facebook timeline. Another thing: Mark Z has shown again and again that he does not care at all about your privacy.
(11) If I get more concerned about the tracking of my car, I know that there are people who are concerned about EMF emissions and thus have developed procedures for cars (search for: cars blocking emfs). Blocking the EMF would probably also keep ‘them’ from tracking you.

But, this is just treading water. In a few years there will be real-time face-readers connected to networked Big Data stores. Those entities that want to track your movements, mine your data, and attempt to hustle you, will do so. Either we all switch to wearing masks in public, with our phones in Faraday-bags, or we develop an acceptance of the loss of privacy. I predict the latter. Prior to 10,000 years ago a human belonged to a tribe of 150 people or so. Everybody knew what everybody else was doing.

#22 Comment By MikeCA On April 24, 2019 @ 1:00 pm

Why would anyone(except maybe the Chinese with their social credit issue) want to hack Fitbit and give false info? Are people being forced to wear this device and forced to exercise? Not being sarcastic,genuinely curious.
Joy in IL,credit scores are utilised by a multitude of businesses to assess risk,the thought being that how you handle your finances is a good indicator of how you well you manage other aspects of your life. Not entirely fair as it’s easy to damage your credit score through no fault of your own. Job loss,an illness,etc can do serious harm and considering most Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency…. Economic inequality and the structural issues behind it need to be urgently addressed. Tax cuts that benefit mostly the wealthy & large corporations is a sugar high and the eventual crash will be quite unpleasant. With most of the unpleasantness going to those who got little to none of the sweet tax cut money. The wealthy can weather the fallout- they don’t need social security,Medicare or any of the programs that are sure to be targeted during the next economic downturn,which is coming.
I believe our next administration will govern either from the hard left or the hard right as there’s little appetite for moderates of any sort. Either an emboldened re-elected Trump or a Bernie esque Democrat. The former is dreadful to contemplate and the latter will probably divide the country further, if that’s possible.

#23 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On April 24, 2019 @ 1:07 pm

@Joy in IL, your insurance industry friend is exaggerating about the ease, but a fair amount of information could be recovered with effort and expense.

A cell phone is constantly announces its presence to the network while on. As you move, it migrate between cells, and connects to new towers. Bandwidth is a scarce resource, so cellular service providers need to analyze this information to figure out how loaded their towers are. It’s possible to reconstruct a cellphone’s movement around the network using this information.

Cellular service providers will hand this information over to the government when there’s a warrant. See: [6]

I am unsure if they could sell it to a third party like an insurance company. But a number of fake cell phone towers called “stingrays” have been spotted in cities, and are likely law enforcement dispensing with the need for a warrant and tracking phones directly. But an insurance company could also set one up if they wanted to spend the money.

However, putting a cellphone into a foil bag that blocks RF would defeat this sort of location tracking. See:

tl;dr I know all this security stuff, but honestly I am not interesting enough to have a use for it.

#24 Comment By Alice On April 24, 2019 @ 1:13 pm

Snark asked:

How can corporations legally amass all that personal data?

Assuming you aren’t just being snarky, the law in the US is digital data is owned by the collector. It is not intrinsic to your person or inside you.

But re: biological data: It is very very difficult to get people to understand what privacy they’ve given up.

Even in places where you might think such privacy is obvuously a right, like a blood spot have had exceptions in the law.

A good place to start regarding health related issues is

#25 Comment By JonF On April 24, 2019 @ 1:41 pm

SamM, I agree with on washers. I have one of those low water efficient things. It’s normally OK for my needs, but occasionally if something is badly soiled (say, with cat barf or garden muck) it will need at least two trips through the wash, even with liberal (what else? 🙂 applications of Shout.

#26 Comment By Ken’ichi On April 24, 2019 @ 2:06 pm

>>Sam M

Why not? As I stated, the rebuild could use modern materials and a newer engine. No reason it couldn’t incorporate crumple zones and other stuff. Throw in air bags if they are required.

My understanding is that modern American cars meet CAFE standard fuel efficiency not only engine but by using lighter materials in entire frame. Same with adding “crumple zones.” And if you’re talking about replacing entire frame, engine, etc., that sounds less like “rebuild” and more like “build your own car.”

#27 Comment By LouB On April 24, 2019 @ 2:26 pm

Chumps never recognize the confidence game in time.
When they realize they were the mark, they keep quiet because they don’t want to look like the dupes they are.
Plays right into their hands, eh?

#28 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On April 24, 2019 @ 2:43 pm

@MikeCA, for engineers it’s good practice to look at a device and ask “what vulnerabilities does it have?”, and “How it can be messed with?” Sure it doesn’t matter for a Fitbit in the US, but the same techniques can be used against other devices and systems where it does matter.

What I described is known as a replay attack. It can be used in many systems from PC boot firmware to websites. It can be mitigated by including a token in the data stream that is both unique and not constant. That’s harder said than done though.

#29 Comment By Joan from Michigan On April 24, 2019 @ 3:57 pm

You’re not being paranoid enough. The really scary potential applications are medical.

Science is in the process of identifying the physical, chemical basis of all our emotions, the complex organic molecules that circulate in minute amounts in our blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid. This knowledge raises the possibility of sensors implanted in our bodies, ostensibly to monitor our health, but in reality to understand us at a deeper level than we understand ourselves, especially when combined with data from cameras that observe us 24/7 with such fine-grained precision that they can tell what we are looking at when a given emotion arises. Then when the artificial glands have been perfected, ostensibly to manage our blood sugar and dopamine levels and so forth, and made universal, it will be easy to add a feature that gives us a squirt of oxytocin when we see a picture of the current incumbent, ensuring that said incumbent has our vote in the next election.

#30 Comment By ginger On April 24, 2019 @ 4:22 pm

It’s all so exhausting. Most of us will just give up. They’ve probably got me on cameras or satellite or who knows what else anyway.

I don’t see anything short of worldwide catastrophe stopping the crushing advance of technology.

I’m almost 50 and will be shuffling off the coil before the worst of it happens, most likely. My descendants will probably have to figure out how to cope with life in very difficult circumstances, just as many, if not most, of my ancestors did.

#31 Comment By John Spragge On April 24, 2019 @ 4:34 pm

Two comments come to mind:

1) Condemning the so-called “woke capitalism” of Google et al and implicitly excusing the paternalism of Henry Ford shows no logic. If anything, Ford had a clearer desire for control over the lives of his workers, and pursued it by more intrusive means: Google may exercise control over what you do at work, and on their systems, but they don’t send inspectors to people’s private houses as Ford did. On the same topic: What makes you think Henry Ford fits in any sensible left versus right category today?

2) On what logic do you consider your behaviour on the public streets with a two tonne steel battering ram propelled by and loaded with high explosive a “private” matter? Given the rate at which motor vehicle operators kill and main other road users, the case for behaviour modification seems pretty strong. Mass motoring culture thus facilitates the power of the surveillance culture in three ways: it provides an effective surveillance platform (even for the classic car buffs, license plate readers can track you very effectively); the cost of motoring binds people into the corporate economy very effectively, and it provides a strong positive case in favour of driver surveillance.

If you want freedom, find an alternative to your car. At least, drive only the bare essential minimum and do every errand you possibly can by public transit or bicycle.

#32 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 24, 2019 @ 4:41 pm

Elijah says:

The Democratic Party and many (most?) liberals are just as fond of Big Business and dark money and all that when it benefits them. Just look at the number of companies willing to sponsor the most ridiculous social engineering claptrap just to get those liberals to go away. And they do.

Key take home here: people (liberals in this case) make a fuss and companies take action (admittedly silly action) to pacify them.

The local hospital got sued (bigly) a while back due to mishandling of patient data and ever since all the employees are expected to endure regular training on how to police and narc on their fellow employees for possible mishandling of patient data. The hospital is currently facing a big sexual discrimination lawsuit and suddenly there is a new training course that I assume tells people how to not be a bigot and how to police one’s fellow employees. What happened in both cases was the company faced a serious monetary loss and took action to prevent it from happening again, or to at least limit their liability if it happens again. If you want to change a companies behavior you need a credible threat (conservatives have pretty much never been a credible threat to big business), but their method of offsetting that threat might not be your desired outcome.

#33 Comment By harve On April 24, 2019 @ 5:56 pm

John Spragge says:

“1) What makes you think Henry Ford fits in any sensible left versus right category today?”

The consistent paternalism and anti-union sentiments that anyone familiar with labor history is aware of. This is rooted in the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, Free Labor Ideology, and the application of Substantive Due Process to laws seeking to protect workers and consumers in the Gilded age by successive conservative Supreme Courts. Folks like Ford and Baer are merely representative. As for “left vs. right” I suggest reading “Social Statics” and then comparing with current output on the right. Go into the Congressional Record and read the conservative arguments against Social Security.

#34 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 24, 2019 @ 6:42 pm

I repair and build vehicles that have none of these invasive features, either hot rods or old cars. Some run on biodiesel and reclaimed vegetable oil. And they are more reliable and more economical. To Hell with this inverted corporate totalitarianism. Live Free or die.

#35 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 24, 2019 @ 6:59 pm

“That’s how I roll — and if you’re honest, it’s how you roll too. What choice do we have?”

I think it’s important to learn to be technically competent, at least for some of us who resist manipulation. That means I am able to diagnose check engine light sensor information. I have designed computers, written machine language code, and also worked as an auto and diesel mechanic, and in wrecking yards. I can adapt the best of the old and new, to serve my own purposes, not those of these self styled Masters of the Universe and their government commissars.

So I’m not a Luddite. But I do adopt the Amish way of thinking about technology. I do not want to become a slave to the Technological Imperative, that what can be done, will be done. You need to question what comes next, ask what are the consequences to your own values, that is, in my case, God’s values. There is a passage in the Bible, warning you not to be made merchandise of. That is exactly what this is.

So it’s important to have the kind of education that no longer seems to be on offer at the so-called universities, to know enough of the real humanities, to be guided towards wisdom by God’s Holy Spirit and to become as practically knowledgeable about technology as you can. Maybe this means struggling towards becoming real Renaissance men.

Let’s roll. We don’t have to comply with where they mean to take us. Even if it means the money of the consumer corporate lifestyle is denied us. At this point, I’d rather hang out with bikers than my former colleagues in corporate management. Let’s be rebels against the wrong.

#36 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 24, 2019 @ 7:24 pm

” If one cares to try Linux ”

I obtained a laptop for free that someone couldn’t get Win10 running properly on. It runs on a version of Linux much faster. (BTW, Win10, the non-corporate version, tracks and transmits your usage.)

On the other hand, I’ve fixed Apple and Win-running equipment that their own companies gave up on, that they said couldn’t be fixed, running their own respective systems. But it’s forced upgrades all the way.

If you use the Brave browser, you’re supporting the Firefox Mozilla founder who got defenestrated from his own company by the Woke zombies. Fire the Fox! But definitely, don’t use the tech giants’ own corporate spy surveillance browsers.

#37 Comment By John Spragge On April 25, 2019 @ 5:58 am

Quoting Fran Macadam:

I repair and build vehicles that have none of these invasive features, either hot rods or old cars. Some run on biodiesel and reclaimed vegetable oil. And they are more reliable and more economical.

But to legally operate on public streets, they must have a license plate, which license plate readers can track quite easily. The problem of cars is different from phones. If I buy a fair-phone and run Ubuntu on it with no tracking apps, Google et al, and possibly the government, would still like to track me, but they have no real argument for doing so. When I take a two tonne steel bomb into a public place, on the other hand, the authorities have a strong case for watching what I do with it, and the means, which I can’t legally evade, to do so.

#38 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 25, 2019 @ 3:46 pm

“When I take a two tonne steel bomb into a public place, on the other hand, the authorities have a strong case for watching what I do with it, and the means, which I can’t legally evade, to do so.”

But if privacy is lost, there is nothing but the public space – which is corporate and government surveillance. You may be teaching the state’s child you bore LGBTQ hate. They have the means to watch and listen via your telescreen, and you cannot legally evade it. Firearms should also report via video and GPS, just what you are doing while hunting. How can we tell you didn’t rape your wife if the government didn’t witness the consent? You have no way to legally evade your every communication being copied and analyzed. Your mail is tracked universally.

The state supposedly perfect requires an elite in charge of technology that constantly monitors and enforces its edicts.

As The Grand Inquisitor told Christ, humanity bleats about freedom, but the responsibility is too great for them to bear, so they crave slavery.

As for me, I scoff at you and your love of control. Sorry for putting it that way, but I absolutely loathe lickspittles.

It is true, however, if folks reject the internal moral guidance informed by Christian conscience, then the chaos that comes is sought to be remedied by a totalitarian society.


#39 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 25, 2019 @ 3:48 pm

“How can corporations legally amass all that personal data? I thought we had a constitutional right to privacy.”

The theory is that only the government is bounded by privacy laws.