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lecture: Corporate surveillance, digital tracking, big data & privacy

How thousands of companies are profiling, categorizing, rating and affecting the lives of billions

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Today virtually everything we do is monitored in some way. The collection, analysis and utilization of digital information about our clicks, swipes, likes, purchases, movements, behaviors and interests have become part of everyday life. While individuals become increasingly transparent, companies take control of the recorded data.

In his talk, Wolfie Christl will outline how today’s online platforms, data brokers, credit reporting agencies, insurers, mobile app developers and tech companies are collecting, analyzing, sharing and making use of vast amounts of data about our everyday lives – across platforms, devices and life contexts. In October 2016, his book „Networks of Control“ was published, a comprehensive report about privacy in times of corporate surveillance, digital tracking and big data. The report was co-authored by Sarah Spiekermann, a renowned privacy scholar, and not only exposes the full degree and scale of today’s personal data industry, but also shows how algorithmic decisions on people lead to discrimination, exclusion and other harms.

Based on many examples, Wolfie Christl will give an overview of his research: Who are the players in today's surveillance economy? How do networks of online platforms, tech companies and data brokers really collect, analyze, trade and make use of personal data? What can be inferred from our purchases, web searches and likes? How is analytics based on personal information already used in fields such as insurance, finance, healthcare and employment to treat people differently? And, what are the societal implications and risks of ubiquitous corporate surveillance?