“A Chinese-Style Digital Dystopia Isn't As Far Away As We Think”
Matt Stoller, Buzzfeed, June 27, 2018
We accept price discrimination all the time; going to the movies and getting a senior discount is price discrimination. But in that case, the decision of how to discriminate is done by class; it is publicly posted; and everyone accepts that, in this case, seniors get a discount. It is a public decision to discriminate.
Discriminating on an individual level is different and allows for powerful exploitation and manipulation of the citizen. In areas with first-degree price discrimination, like car insurance or credit cards, there are often gender- or race-based pricing choices. With increasing datafication of society, we can see this increasingly organized to the level of the individual.
An airline could, for instance, analyze your email for the words “death in the family” and “travel,” look at your credit limit, and then offer you a price based on this information. Or imagine a group of companies putting together a common list of troublemakers, perhaps negative online reviewers or commenters or consumers who frequently return items. All of a sudden, for no obvious reason, someone who returns an item to one store might find that prices on a host of socially [essential] goods have [gone] up.
Corporations generally deny they do anything like this or even that they can. But …
We are now in a totally unregulated world of lawless web giants who operate as the core infrastructure for our society. They can use their data and power to discriminate and exploit, and the strategy now for companies like AT&T is to emulate them, or die. And the deep links that intelligence agencies have with these giants suggest that this power can, with a flip of a few switches, be easily weaponized by the state.
“Golden State Killer Suspect Arrest Opens Floodgates for Law Enforcement Use of DNA Websites”
Steve Horn, Criminal Legal News, May 31, 2018
The use of DNA-based genealogy websites to track down the “Golden State Killer” suspect, Joseph DeAngelo, appears to have inspired police departments nationwide. It's a move that has irked privacy advocates and criminal justice system reformers. …
Most criminal law experts say those who hand over their DNA to websites like GEDmatch have no expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. … Whether that same legal logic applies to their extended relatives, though, will remain an open question as the Golden State Killer's case weaves its way through the courts.
“Why the Golden State Killer Investigation Is Cause for Concern”
Vera Eidelman, Free Future, American Civil Liberties Union, May 11, 2018
We should be able to access the benefits of technological advances without giving up our rights.
Coming next year: Amazon applies machine learning to DNA databases to infer users' purchasing preferences and tendency to comparison-shop, enabling differential pricing for persons whose relatives' genetic constitution shows that they are indifferent to overpaying.