Reform Corporate Surveillance

Global Corporate Surveillance Reform

“The NSA didn't wake up and say, ‘Let's just spy on everybody.’ They looked up and said, ‘Wow, corporations are spying on everybody. Let's get ourselves a copy.’” —Bruce Schneier, Cryptographer and security specialist.

The undersigned organisations are trying to whitewash the fact that their business models are as much a threat to your privacy and civil liberties as the government spying that they have been revealed to have been complicit in by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Microsoft all offer you free services in exchange for your data. In other words, in exchange for your privacy and, ultimately, your civil liberties. Their business models also make it much easier and cheaper for the NSA & GCHQ to carry out their spying on ordinary citizens.

These companies make money by analysing your information and behaviour to create profiles of you that they then sell to others. You are not their customer, you are the product that they sell to their real customers.

You are the quarry being mined.

Case study: Google

  1. 1

    Free services

    Google offers you Gmail for free. Just sign in with your Google username and password. Why? Because Google learns valuable information about you from every email you write and receive. Don’t see a problem with that? You should sign up for SchnailMail — free real mail for life. And it’s not just email, Google offers you free services in exchange for access to your files, photos, conversations, friends, and more.

  2. 2

    Subsidized devices

    Of course, you can always use a competitor’s services and then Google wouldn’t get your data. That’s why Google offers you shiny, beautiful devices at subsidized prices. The only requirement is that you sign in to your device with our Google username and password. Then, no matter what service you use, Google will get valuable data from you. So now you know why your Nexus phone costs half the price of an iPhone — it’s a beautiful Google data entry device.

  3. 3

    Subsidized Internet

    Even with devices, you always have the option of using a different device (like an iPhone) and, again, Google won’t get your data. That’s why Google is now connecting people to the Internet with Google Fiber. Just sign in to the Internet with your Google username and password and, no matter which device you use, Google will get some valuable data from you. In fact, both Google and Facebook want to connect the next billion to the Internet: Google with Project Loon and Facebook with Soon, there may be people who only know an Internet that you sign in to with your Google or Facebook account.

  4. 4

    The illusion of choice

    You might be thinking, ‘So what? I can just use a different company.’ But can you, really? ‘Sure, instead of G+, I’ll use Facebook.’ No, wait, Facebook has the same business model. And unless you’re extremely technically savvy, the current crop of open source alternatives will be inaccessible to you. We increasingly experience and manipulate the world around us via our devices and the services that run on them. These are quickly becoming essential to taking part in modern society. What happens when all the services have the same ‘free’ business model? Do we really have a choice or just the illusion of choice?

  5. 5

    What is the alternative?

    So the problem is clear, but what is the solution? It is simply not enough to tell people to ‘stop using Google and Facebook’. We might as well tell them to go live in a cave. No, we need viable alternatives. Traditional free software and open source products are not the answer. They are a features-driven mess; a sandbox for technically-savvy enthusiasts. We need beautiful, seamless solutions for consumers that just happen to be open; that just happen to empower them to own their own data.

    The solution is to create a new breed of open products: experience-driven open technologies.

    We are doing just that at Indie Phone.

    And we are just one of a slew of other promising projects surfacing to redecentralize the Internet and forge the infrastructure of the Indie Web.

Voices For Reform

“The NSA didn't wake up and say, ‘Let's just spy on everybody.’ They looked up and said, ‘Wow, corporations are spying on everybody. Let's get ourselves a copy.’” —Bruce Schneier, Cryptographer and security specialist.
“A state of surveillance is one wherein our actions, locations, interpersonal networks and communications are trackable and tracked… tech giants have been operating on and building a surveillance state with our tacit consent.” —Natasha Lennard, Salon
“If you have something you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” —Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
“They ‘trust me’ — dumb fucks.” (Yeah, really.) —Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
“Our customers are over one million of advertisers, from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the world's largest global enterprises…” —Google Investor FAQ
“We’re not going to take it anymore.” —Aral Balkan, Founder, Indie Phone