Fuchs on “The Empire of Economic Surveillance”

The brilliant Christian Fuchs reflects on Google buzz in a posting distributed today on nettime-l and [idc] titled “Google Buzz: Economic Surveillance – Buzz Off! The Problem of Online Surveillance and the Need for an Alternative Internet.” Among the more interesting observations including what is becoming for me one of many indications that Eric Schmidt is starting to appear very much like Orwell’s big brother in the flesh:

In December 2009, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt commented about online privacy: “If you have something that you do not want anyone to know, maybe you should not be doing it in the first place.”

Fuchs is one of our most articulate critics with regard to the neoliberal “positive power” that encourages us to sacrifice privacy under social pressure:

Google Buzz is part of Google’s empire of economic surveillance. It gathers information about user behaviour and user interests in order to store, assess, and sell this data to advertising clients. These surveillance practices are legally guaranteed by the Buzz privacy policy, which says for example: “When you use Google Buzz, we may record information about your use of the product, such as the posts that you like or comment on and the other users who you communicate with. This is to provide you with a better experience on Buzz and other Google services and to improve the quality of Google services. […] If you use Google Buzz on a mobile device and choose to view “nearby” posts, your location will be collected by Google” (Google Buzz Privacy Policy, February 14, 2010).

On a related front, some observers have started to notice that buzz and wave are suspiciously similar. In fact, I’d go further: wave is much more like an API than an application, and buzz is something like a Gmail implementation of the wave API. but I digress.

Fuchs’s complete article is online at http://fuchs.uti.at/313/

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