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The Forum > Article Comments > Democracy at risk: the terrifying power of 'big data' > Comments

Democracy at risk: the terrifying power of 'big data' : Comments

By Samuel Alexander, published 21/3/2017

The game of political campaigning has changed, and almost everyone is still playing the old game.

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Samuel, your obvious bias invalidates your argument.

What about the ABC's concentration of media ownership and constant leftard propaganda? Why didn't you mention that? It's obviously more than Murdoch's?

And why did you *assume* the primacy of the State over all aspects of society? Why? Why didn't you examine this stupid assumption?
Posted by Jardine K. Jardine, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 8:10:36 AM
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Methinks Big Brother be watching Sammy andy.
Posted by plantagenet, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 10:53:09 AM
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Dear Jardine,

The state is an immoral body, but so are those who advertise at us and collect our personal information without our consent. Yes, I know that the fine print of web-sites legally allows them to do so, but not morally as it is designed to be unreasonable for ordinary people to read and understand the full implications.

- so now it's a case of one criminal gang against another! Which side are we on?

Surely we don't want the immoral state to determine the morality or otherwise of individuals and prohibit whatever it perceives as immoral behaviour, but so long as states still exist and so long as they use the money that they rob from us to favour other people, we should ask them to at least limit their favours to those who behave morally.

Incorporation is such a favour: the state gives the people involved tax advantages, ease of operation and an immunity from losing their own homes/cars/boats/planes if they invest stupidly.

So while government should not be able to prevent individuals from advertising and collecting information on us, it should certainly be able to condition company-registration (and recognition of foreign companies) on avoiding harmful behaviours, including not-truly-consented-to advertising and information-collection.

In any case, nobody should get a prize for doing the wrong thing, so as long as we pay taxes, advertisements should never be recognised as a valid tax-deduction, even for individuals.

Now ideally, if one day we could achieve smaller voluntary states where unlike today, a true social contract exists with the consent of all their residents, oh then it will be legitimate and well to legislate there against all forms of advertisements and mass data-collection about individuals.
Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:01:11 AM
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I see this article as a comment on the fashion of society's embracing a wide range of social media toys.
It could be too late if you have already fallen for these, and in the process, allowed yourself to be analysed, quantified and even willingly provided a heap of personal information to the sites when you joined them.
I use the internet fairly readily but only for what I see as its role - communication.
I communicate only material which is desired by my contacts, not swathes of meaningless drivel.
Think ... in older days, would you have sent the amount of presently broadcast information if you had to pay a significant sum for each word to send it by telegram?
Answer to big data's mining is to stay right away from "social" media.
Posted by Ponder, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 2:30:06 PM
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Yuyutsu

You haven't established that there's anything immoral or criminal or non-consensual about people communicating with you, to you, or at you, about offers that they think you might want to accept.

Any wrongs involves in the government giving to some people a privilege, such as limited liability, is grounds for an argument for the government not doing it. It is not an argument for further interventions, especially where you can can't establish that there's anything immoral about it.

And where do you draw the line? Why not ban all communications that you don't like?

The fact is, people do consent to the conditions of use when they use Google and Facebook and such. They have their remedy: stop using it. But they don't want to do that.

I also don't like the intrusive and impudent advertising that I get - but it wouldn't occur to me to suggest that the government should ban it
Posted by Jardine K. Jardine, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 6:45:37 PM
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Dear Jardine,

It is commonly accepted even among libertarians that it's legitimate for people to organise themselves in groups in order to protect themselves from harm.

The problem with existing states is that they were not formed in the above manner, but rather attempt to forcibly protect people who do not wish to be protected by them and against things that they do not wish to be protected against.

If however, that "small problem" could be fixed, then there would be nothing wrong about people choosing what harms they want to be protected against by their voluntary-selected group. This could include not only harms that they cannot individually protect themselves against because they lack the necessary brawn, but also harms that they cannot individually protect themselves against because they lack the necessary brains.

Blaming people for not having the brains (or time) to understand the fine print and all its malicious implications, is no different in principle to blaming them that they don't have the muscle to fight knife-wielding attackers. Why, isn't it their fault that they failed to study and practice some martial art?

You and I and Ponder are intelligent enough to keep away from such evil sites, but it wouldn't be right to blame people for having only an average I.Q.. Note also that it is easy for information about us to leak out by third parties, including innocently by our family and friends.

I reject the benign description of "people communicating with you, to you, or at you, about offers that they think you might want to accept": firstly, these are not "people", but organised groups with government backing: I wonder whether they could operate so successfully without limited-liability and tax-deductions; and secondly, they know very well that I don't want to accept or even see their offers. What they do is to systematically look for opportune weaknesses in order to hit people in their pockets: in principle, this is not different to systematically looking for physical weaknesses and lack of sufficient alertness in order to kick people in the balls or rape them.
Posted by Yuyutsu, Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:35:38 PM
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The article was a bit biased, in being against Trump and Cambridge Analytica it might be for Thiel, Palantir and Facebook.
- I'm not really sure of the relationships and angles going on there.

It inspired curiosity nonetheless and I'm going to now at some point have a better look at all this stuff.
I've already looked at Palantir and what they do and I suggest others do the same.
I'd add a video link but I cannot find the videos I watched on this previously.

http://heatst.com/tech/peter-thiel-trump-and-facebook-vs-cambridge-analyticas-steve-bannon/
Posted by Armchair Critic, Wednesday, 22 March 2017 6:25:19 AM
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Well said, Yuyutsu ... simple things for simple minds.
Posted by Ponder, Wednesday, 22 March 2017 8:58:01 AM
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Dear Yuyutsu

It's common ground that aggression against one's person or property is harm.

But you seem to be trying to define "harm" as being exposed to sights and sounds or voices or offers that you don't want to be see or hear. According to this theory, if I walk down the street, and see people, or shop-signs, or hear spruikers, or are solicited to buy things, this is people "harming" me.

I don't agree with that, but even if it were, and even if states were formed by people voluntarily to protect themselves from harm, how would they ever remedy the problem in practice?

Even if streets were not open to the public, but were private, we would still be faced with the same problem, for example as in private shopping malls.

So I'm not sure what you're getting at there.

As for the "government-backing" part, again, I'm not sure what you're getting at. So far as private corporations make communications to us that we don't want, even if corporations law were entirely repealed, and they did not enjoy limited liability, these same groups of people could still form themselves into voluntary associations based on contract, and still make the same communications.

So I can't see what your objection is, either in theory or practice, since
a) in theory, people, or groups of people, offering to sell you stuff is not "harm", even if you don't want it [I hate ads as much as you do]; and
b) the fact of corporate status is not a critical factor, and
c) what did you have in mind to remedy the problem?

I fully agree that *the government* shouldn't be able to access our data for any purpose; because that is genuinely non-consensual. But the same cannot be said of the private use of our data.

You don't have to *read* the fine-print to consent; clicking "I agree" is sufficient; just as you don't have to read a contract to consent: signing it is enough.
Posted by Jardine K. Jardine, Thursday, 23 March 2017 2:01:09 PM
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