Connect with your relatives.
Data: genetic data from saliva, and family trees.
Buyer/collaborator example: genetic drug research.
iRobot IoT home productsThe fun: a robot that cleans your room!Data: maps of private homes.
Buyer/collaborator example: Google for advertising.
Amazon Alexa Smart SpeakerThe fun: order a speaker to do things!Data: voice data and behavioural data.
Buyer/collaborator: for internal use in Amazon and/or highest bidder.
IKEA smart lightingThe fun: control your lighting!Data: behavioural data from homes connected to your phone.
Buyer/collaborator: Internal use and phone companies such as Xiaomi.
There are likely more examples that can be made.
These examples are oversimplified and reduced perhaps too much, yet it is only meant as broad brush strokes for an illustrative train of thought.
What is databaiting?Let us start by examining the two words that I put together, and see if it is a useful term or inadequate to describe the phenomenon.
First data and then baiting.
Data is facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.
It is a set of values of subjects with respect to qualitative or quantitative variables.
For most companies I have met dealing with data the perception is that it can be measured and quantified, and this is a dominant view.
Increasingly there is talks of monetising data and the term being compared to raw resources such as oil.
This refers to the idea of raw data (unprocessed) as something that can be processed to gain value.
Some even talk of a new gold rush and compare data to minerals.
Data can be used in many ways from helping to cure cancer, optimising logistics and training algorithms to learn how to respond to a given situation or context.
We could argue it is not neutral and shaped by those who gather the data and interpret the data.
Baiting in this context to entice someone.
One understanding of bait can be to entice fish or animals.
The human being is as proposed within the kingdom animalia, not above and beyond nature or other animals, so we are also susceptible to this.
The context some would think of could be related with fishing.
When related to humans, the person who is the victim of baiting is usually left hurt and confused.
Something is said to elicit an emotional response that leads to an action, even when someone knows they have been baited it is hard to know how to deal with it.
Databaiting I would suggest is: to entice someone to submit their data by eliciting an emotional response.
The victim often does not know how their data has been used and can be hurt when they find out.
Your data could be used to train a surveillance data set for an insurance company, arms manufacturer or eCommerce.
You will likely not know of this.
You know the company might sell your data, not to whom and you are tempted by a product or service that will improve your life.
You therefore submit yourself (your data) in exchange without being aware of the consequences.
This is what I myself have done many times over.
Informed ConsentA peculiar phenomenon is images on smoking packets in Norway and other places around the world.
You often find the message: “smoking kills,” and it can be accompanies by an image of a horrible picture related to the range of diseases you can get from smoking regularly.
I do not claim that using software services or hardware collecting data will kill you, however it may influence your life in ways that you did not intend.
I do not know how much this has helped.
We could still imagine the scenario with brutally honest informed consent from technology companies that gathers your data and uses it for a purpose you were unaware of.
This may not happen in the near future, but it provides for a fun thought experiment.
I am not sure if this is the solution, however we could imagine the following ridiculous situations:Warning: this product may be sold as behavioural data to your nearest shop.
We may sell this to someone who aggregates data and we may not know where it goes ourselves, because the laws are not transparent enough, and your data is devilishly hard to track.
We do our best though.
Thank you for submitting your DNA sample!.Be aware that it could be used to produce a drug or two for some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
We thought we should mention this because we value honesty.
By submitting your psychometric information in exchange for a larger social network we hope you are aware of the consequences.
We can offer you more suitable products, but we will get better at directing you towards a purchase.
The information you just provided can be used both for companies to sell you products/services or politicians to reach you, we do not discriminate too much as long as they pay.
Additionally we have expanded so quickly that we often lack staff speaking the language in given countries to monitor for possible infringements.
In the countries we have staff the volume of content posted tends to be too high.
We are expanding rapidly as you may know.
If you scroll too much and compare yourself to your friends you may stand a higher chance to get depressed, so limit your scrolling if you can.
Remember this service is addictive and must be used with care.
We use your behavioural data to make you stay longer at this platform to sell more advertisement.
Refreshing right?Data BrokersUnless you’re in the business for information you may never have heard of a data broker, but they have heard of you.
Earlier this year (2019) Steven Melendez and Alex Pasternack wrote an article about data brokers in Fast Company.
This law requires those that buy and sell data to enter into a registry.
On the other hand as the article says:Even Vermont’s first-of-its-kind law, which went into effect last month, doesn’t require data brokers to disclose who’s in their databases, what data they collect, or who buys it.
Nor does it require brokers to give consumers access to their own data or opt out of data collection.
The article showed an interesting chart.
Types of consumer data and data companies.
Some companies included in the chart may not be covered by the Vermont law.
Image by Cracked Labs an Institute for Critical Digital Culture.
The chart within the article from Fast Company led me to look into the Institute for Critical Digital Culture within Cracked Labs.
Cracked Labs is an independent research institute and a creative laboratory based in Vienna, Austria.
It investigates the socio-cultural impacts of information technology and develops social innovations in the field of digital culture.
It is a non-profit organization and was established in 2012 to strengthen a participatory and self-determined use of information and communication technology as well as the free access to knowledge and information — independently from commercial or governmental interests.
The following two larger graphics are retrieved from the article Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life.
Different levels, realms and sources of corporate consumer data collection by Cracked Labs an Institute for Critical Digital CultureBusiness models of hidden revenue generationIn January 2019 Mark Zuckerberg made a post about Facebook’s business model.
As part of this he writes:I believe everyone should have a voice and be able to connect.
If we’re committed to serving everyone, then we need a service that is affordable to everyone.
The best way to do that is to offer services for free, which ads enable us to do.
[…] Still, some are concerned about the complexity of this model.
In an ordinary transaction, you pay a company for a product or service they provide.
Here you get our services for free — and we work separately with advertisers to show you relevant ads.
This model can feel opaque, and we’re all distrustful of systems we don’t understand.
Sometimes this means people assume we do things that we don’t do.
For example, we don’t sell people’s data, even though it’s often reported that we do.
In fact, selling people’s information to advertisers would be counter to our business interests, because it would reduce the unique value of our service to advertisers.
We have a strong incentive to protect people’s information from being accessed by anyone else.
This is of course a half-truth or not true at all.
Let us examine the statement: “…we don’t sell people’s data…” Yes you do Mark.
Although advertisers pay for insight on the customer, that insight is based on your data.
It is not a complicated or opaque transaction despite a complicated technological infrastructure and system.
You gather data, you turn it into specific customer insight and that is sold to advertisers.
It is not like I go to a store that sells a hamburgers with meat and get told that they do not sell meat they only sell hamburgers.
This would make me seriously question the situation.
We can look at the latest investor statement from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, for the first quarter towards its investors and examine a few statements.
They are moving into life science with Calico and Verily understanding life span as well as health data.
It is obliged to show any pending lawsuits and the antitrust lawsuits has some interesting statements if we search a slight bit more.
Google was fined a record-breaking €2.
42 billion (~$2.
73BN) for antitrust violations.
“For well over a decade, Google’s search engine has played a decisive role in determining what most of us read, use and purchase online.
Left unchecked, there are few limits to this gatekeeper power.
Google can deploy its insidious search manipulation practices to commandeer the lion’s share of traffic and revenues in virtually any online sector of its choosing, quietly crushing competition, innovation, and consumer choice in the process.
”TechCrunch quoting the European Commision the 27th of June 2017.
The ramping up of competition with Amazon in shopping-related context is used as a justification for Google’s conduct.
The European Commision decision imposed a €4.
3 billion ($5.
1 billion as of June 30, 2018) fine and directed the termination of the conduct at issue for ‘certain Android distribution practices’.
The CEO of Google Sundar Pichai made a blog post on July the 18th, 2018 commenting on this decision:Rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them.
Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less.
We intend to appeal.
The open Android system is an operating system that can be used on a variety of systems.
In an article called The amount of data Google tracks from your Android phone is staggering: “Google collects an incredible amount of data about you, especially from that device you use most, your Android phone.
And it might all happen without your knowledge.
” The statement referred to a report made by Quartz attempting to understand what data being sent to Google this included:A list of types of movements that your phone thinks you could be doing, by likelihood.
walking: 51%, onBicycle: 4%, inRailVehicle: 3%)The barometric pressureWhether or not you’re connected to wifiThe MAC address — which is a unique identifier — of the wifi access point you’re connected toThe MAC address, signal strength, and frequency of every nearby wifi access pointThe MAC address, identifier, type, and two measures of signal strength of every nearby Bluetooth beaconThe charge level of your phone battery and whether or not your phone is chargingThe voltage of your batteryThe GPS coordinates of your phone and its accuracyThe GPS elevation and its accuracyIn exchange for organizing your photos, you let Google record what stores you’re shopping in and what restaurants you’re eating at by collecting information about nearby Bluetooth beacons and wifi networks.
How often you go for a runTrack you with bluetooth despite bluetooth being turned offThere are likely other data points that I am not aware of.
The point is that through understanding what keywords you use on a range of platforms and services Google can get a clearer idea of what you want than some other companies.
This information is what is being sold.
It would not be unwarranted to claim that Google is the undisputed databaiting champion.
Insight gathered can of course be positive for the person that uses Google and make it easier to get the right thing; get to the right place; or find the right service or product.
A Final DisclaimerHaving said that I do appreciate the services and products that some of these companies are creating.
It is becoming hard to imagine a life without Google and Facebook.
Both these companies have changed my life for better and worse.
It may seem a strange statement, however my critique is meant as constructive rather than an extreme protest against these companies.
Let us be critical and participate in debates on data sharing as a civic responsibility.
How data is handled in our society has large ramifications.
Writing this post was triggered by seeing an advertisement campaign from a startup called Upright Pose.
Their tagline is: “Celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of posture.
” The Upright Posture Trainer attaches to your back with a small adhesive and vibrates, immediately, every time you slouch, reminding you to correct your posture.
Upright Campaign website retrieved the 7th of July 2019When I saw the product my first thought was: who is this data going to be sold to?.I found myself thinking this and the train of thought led me to recognise this as a somewhat common practice amongst technology companies.
It is especially fascinating with these new type of wearables that can be called biofeedback devices, at least that is what I saw it referenced to in a journal article from 2017 about Collaborative, Social-Networked Posture Training with Posturing Monitoring and Biofeedback written by Da-Yin Liao.
When companies come this close to your body (Apple Watch etc.
) we can start talking of bioprospecting.
Bioprospecting: is the process of discovery and commercialisation of new products based on biological resources.
However these biological resources are not plants or animals — the resource is you and your data.
This may seem like the beginning of a critique reminiscent of Michel Foucault (French social theorist) or perhaps considered Marxist (socioeconomic with class relations) and perhaps it is.
Critical studies of digital culture is not an area that I have been aware of, however it speaks to me because of my interest in social science, computer science and particularly artificial intelligence as well as sustainability.
I may very well further to this article try my best to understand research areas covered by the Institute for Critical Digital Culture.
As a Norwegian I will end this with a picture I saw from a company called Swedish Posture.
Is posture alignment the future?.I cannot predict the future, however the ergonomics of humanity seem very bright on this health tech horizon, so all I can say is stay upright folks.
Stay upright!Databaiting: to entice someone to submit their data by eliciting an emotional response.
Do you find databaiting to be a useful word to describe this situation?.Please let me know in the comment section below.
This is day 35 of #500daysofAI, follow me for daily updates on AI.
Thank you so much for reading!What is #500daysofAI?I am challenging myself to write and think about the topic of artificial intelligence for the next 500 days with the #500daysofAI.
This is a challenge I invented to keep thinking of this topic and share my words with you.