Tags: michael bloomberg | dystopia | google

Michael Bloomberg's Dystopian Digital Future

Michael Bloomberg's Dystopian Digital Future
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Monday, 25 September 2017 11:26 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum this week, Michael Bloomberg laid out his dystopian fever dream for our digital future. Lamenting that Russian fake news and paid propaganda from the last election were “killing democracy,” Bloomey proposed a novel solution: Social media networks like Facebook simply need to make sure a real human being “reads every message” before it's posted.

How exactly he thinks this might work is the real head scratcher: Facebook has more than 2 billion users worldwide, almost one quarter of the entire planet. More than 4.75 billion pieces of content are posted daily on Facebook — every 60 seconds Facebook users post 510,000 comments, 293,000 status updates, and 136,000 photos.

Maybe Bloomberg thinks we adopt something like Fidel Castro’s infamous Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, posting the equivalent of a neighborhood snitch on every city block across the globe to be the “eyes and ears” of Facebook postings. Or maybe he envisions something more like East Germany’s Stasi surveillance regime — 90,000 full-time employees and informers (1 out of every 6.5 people in East Germany) that monitored the country’s citizens through audio, video surveillance of homes, reading mail, extortion, and bribery.

Bloomberg, as is his custom, defaults to his unwavering faith in government as the solution to every problem. Whether it’s his jihad against business over climate change or his silly obsession with Big Gulps, he’s always been a reliable ally of the nanny state. And it’s always couched the same: “We have to make the citizens safe” or “it’s good for democracy.” In fact, he said exactly that to Allen this week:

"[I]f they build the technology that makes it difficult to regulate and to control, that's their problem. It's not society's problem. We have to make them give us the ability to protect ourselves. The first fundamental thing is to keep this country safe, keep democracy for all of our citizens."

But what he’s getting at with his Facebook solution is something of a different magnitude. It’s far more pernicious, malevolent, and dangerous because it’s part of a growing push by policymakers to leverage big tech’s massive information about all of us and put it into the service of the surveillance state. In other words, it doesn’t keep democracy safe, it’s a democracy destroyer.

The danger isn’t so much that Facebook, Google, and Amazon already know more about you than you know about yourself (that’s terrifying enough), it’s that government knows this too, and is salivating at the prospect of getting its hands on this treasure trove of your personal data.

And with Silicon Valley now increasingly finding itself in the crosshairs of government regulators, it will naturally be looking for ways to stave off regulatory scrutiny. The easiest way to do that? Cut deals with government snoops that throws you, the user, under the bus.

Dozens and probably hundreds of public-private partnerships between big government and Silicon Valley are already in place. Amazon has a $600 million deal with the CIA for cloud computing. The investment arms of the CIA and Google both invested in a company called Recorded Future in 2010 to monitor the web in real time in order to “predict the future.”

The truth is, citizens have no idea what information Google and Facebook are already sharing with the government about us, despite their flimsy assurances not to be concerned. Consider Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game that within two weeks of its release in 2016, surpassed Twitter, Facebook, and Netflix in popularity on Android phones.

Pokemon Go’s founder, John Hanke, also ran the team at Google responsible for one of the greatest digital privacy scandals in history, in which Google Street View vehicles secretly copied terabytes of our private digital traffic (emails, passwords, audio and video files) from unsecured Wifi networks. Oh, and before that… Hanke worked for the CIA-funded Keyhole, which collected geographic imagery and was acquired by Google Earth.

Given Google’s pervasive monitoring of our online behavior, is it really conspiratorial to think that Pokemon Go may not just be a fun game, but perhaps a way for say the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to secretly enlist millions of Pokemon Go users to “crowd source” geospatial information that the Agency wants to get its hands on? In fact, the terms of service for Pokemon Go point out that it “reserves the right to share some of the information it collects… for research and analysis, demographic profiling, and other similar purposes.” Share with whom? The company doesn’t say.

It’s been pointed out so often now that it’s almost a cliché, but for companies like Facebook and Google, you are not the customer, you’re the product. And we can be certain that when push comes to shove, when nanny state snoopers like Bloomberg start applying the heat, these companies will gladly horse trade your private information to save their own hides.

Christie-Lee McNally is the founder of Free Our Internet. She was the Maine Statewide Director for Donald J. Trump for President in 2016, is a concealed weapons permit holder, and a USAW Certified Olympic Lifting Coach. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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In an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum this week, Michael Bloomberg laid out his dystopian fever dream for our digital future.
michael bloomberg, dystopia, google
Monday, 25 September 2017 11:26 AM
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