article is part of a series on corporate surveillance
highlighting civil liberty, privacy, cyber security, safety, and
tech-product user exploitation threats associated with connected
products that are supported by the Android (Google) OS, Apple iOS, and
Microsoft Windows OS.
also learned that data-driven technology providers such as Google,
Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Baidu are collecting,
using, sharing, selling, purchasing, and aggregating a person’s
collective digital DNA for financial gain without compensating the
product user who produced the collective digital DNA in the first
place. This is simply called “tech-product user exploitation.”
essence, tech users have become uncompensated information producers who
are being exploited for financial gain at the expense of the user’s
civil liberties, privacy, cyber security, and safety, whether the
user is an adult, child, or business professional.
person’s collective digital DNA, associated with the use of all active
smartphones around the world, is worth billions—if not trillions—of
dollars on the open market, and Google, Apple, Microsoft, and
other tech giants are in a race to collect and exploit that
collective digital DNA.
per my last article, data-driven technology providers do not directly
sell a user’s collective digital DNA to third parties such as
advertisers. All parties sell access to the user via intrusive and
exploitative content such as web browsers (see Apple–Google example
below) and intrusive apps that are pre-installed into the product
and/or distributed via app stores.
to Harvest Digital DNA
are many methods data-driven technology providers use to collect a
person’s collective digital DNA, including predatory operating
systems (OSs), intrusive content (apps, widgets, etc.),
look at operating systems and apps.
of the OS as prime real-estate. The OS is key in that many companies
such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Baidu will pay the OS
of dollarsfor access to the product user, which
is the case with Google and Apple, even though Google is an OS
developer as well.
2014, Google paid Apple $1 billion so that Google would be the default
search engine on the pre-installed Safari web browser on the Apple
iPhone. The iPhone user was unable to uninstall the intrusive
Google product (though could switch default search engines in later
versions of iOS), forcing the iPhone user to accept Google’s
is reportedly set to pay Apple as much as $9 billion in 2018 and $12
billion in 2019 to maintain their status as the default search
engine for the Safari web browser. The Apple-Google deal is a prime
example of how the tech-product user is bought and sold on the open
is Google paying Apple billions of dollars to gain access to Apple
product users? Because Google does not want anyone to escape its
Apple users who don’t want anything to do with Google are unaware of the
fact that Tim Cook—and/or Apple—sold them out to Google without asking.
Apple, and Microsoft are the three dominant OS developers, which means
that these three companies are the gateway to a user’s collective
digital DNA associated with a product supported by the Android OS, Apple
iOS, or Microsoft Windows OS.
Apple, and Microsoft are all in the hardware manufacturing business as
well, but all companies concerned cut deals with technology product
manufacturers to have their respective operating systems adopted
by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), such as Sony,
Samsung, LG, HTC, Ford, and the list goes on.
the OS of a connected product puts Google, Apple, and Microsoft in
control of which companies are enabled to develop uncontrollable,
pre-installed content that is programmed to give the content
developer the ability to monitor, track, and data mine the product user
for financial gain.
content developers have a huge advantage over third-party (e.g. Google
Play) content developers because, in most cases, intrusive
pre-installed content cannot be controlled, disabled, or
uninstalled by the product user because the content is rooted.
Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook have collectively become the
most valuable companies in the world due in part to the collection
and use of a person’s collective digital DNA rather than just driving
revenues from the sale of hardware, software, automated voice
technology, social media services, books, movies, and other retail
that can surveil and data mine telecom subscribers via telecom-related
products, such as smartphones, have a huge advantage over all other
about it, companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft control the OS
that supports billions of telecom-related products, such as
smartphones and tablet PCs, that are supported by protected telecom
infrastructure governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
A smartphone is actually a cellular telephone with an integrated
essence, all companies concerned have found a way to wiretap the
collective telephones and PCs of billions of individuals, children,
businesses, professionals (doctors, attorneys, journalists),
business leaders, government officials, members of the military and
law enforcement, and even law makers from around the world.
does a company not become one of the most powerful companies in the
world if that company is enabled to monitor, track, and data mine
telecom subscribers via telecom-related devices supported
by protected telecom infrastructure governed by the FCC?
did all parties do it? Answer: They control the OS of all
products concerned, plus support them with Trojan horse malware in
the form of an app.
tech-product user has become the product for sale, but the issue is much
worse, because the user is being exploited for financial gain via
telecom-related and retail products that require payment to
participate, such as smartphones, tablet PCs, TVs, vehicles,
voice-automated products, and so on.
did we allow ourselves to be exploited for financial gain at the expense
of privacy by the very tech companies we patronize with our trust,
loyalty, and hard-earned money? Answer: So-called “free stuff.”
and data-mining business practices rooted in surveillance capitalism is
a business model that initially supported “free stuff,” such as web
browsers, software, apps, online services such as social media
sites, and video games including Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga.
connected products and services that require payment to participate,
such as smartphones, are supported by the surveillance capitalism
business model that has been adopted by the three dominant OS
developers Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
you understand the significance regarding the ability to control the OS
of a connected product.
Silicon Valley Matrix
Apple, and Microsoft also develop intrusive content such as apps,
widgets, and emojis, which are simply programmed to give the
content developer the ability to take full control of a
connected product, such as a smartphone, tablet PC, TV, vehicle,
toy, voice-automated product, and so on.
network connectivity, and hardware that can becontrolledby
content developers include the accelerometer (navigation, motion,
etc.), Global Positioning System, cellular network, WiFi,
Bluetooth, nearfield communications, secure digital (SD) card,
subscriber identity module (SIM) card, power synchronization cable,
bio-metric authentication, environmental sensors, camera, microphone,
and volume control.
addition, intrusive content, such as apps, is also designed to give the
content developer the ability to use the sensors (e.g.
GPS/accelerometer) and hardware (e.g. camera/microphone) in order
to surveil the product user 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days
a year, while also enabling the content developer to data mine
surveillance data (e.g. location data) and sensitive user data
generated by the product user.
take my word for any of these claims, read the unpublished (hidden in
device) Android app permissions associated with intrusive
pre-installed Android (Google) apps that the product user cannot
uninstall, control, or disable in many cases.
content, such as apps, is also programmed to conduct multi-source data
mining, meaning that the apps are programmed with the ability to
reach beyond the host device (e.g. smartphone) to collect
a person’s collective digital DNA from multiple connected sources
(e.g. TV, vehicles, social media services, etc.) owned by the
discussed in my previousarticle,
companies such as Google and Facebook will exploit the addictiveness of
their products for financial gain, even at the expense of the product
user’s safety, whether the product user is an adult, child, or
the Android Baidu web browsers and apps distributed via Google Play,
these companies will even sell their product users out to countries
such as China.
who downloads Android Baidu products, such as the web browser shown
above, is agreeing to give Baidu the ability to monitor, track, and data
mine their collective digital DNA at all times.
person’s personal and professional digital DNA is made up of
surveillance data, sensitive user data, and multisource data
acquired via multisource data mining.
collective digital DNA collected from a single smartphone user by all
parties concerned is astonishing and horrifying to say the least.
a result of uncontrollable, pre-installed content (OS, apps, etc.) that
the tech-product user cannot uninstall, there can be as many as 15
or more companies from around the world, including companies from
China, that are enabled to simultaneously monitor, track, and data mine
a single smartphone user depending on the OS.
companies concerned are collecting nearly 100 percent of all
surveillance and sensitive user data associated with the use of the
device, plus collective digital DNA acquired from multiple sources
connected to the host device.
is clear that predatory surveillance and data-mining business practice
rooted in surveillance capitalism need to be addressed by the FCC,
Federal Trade Commission, Department of Homeland Security, state
attorneys general, law makers, and telecom providers because of civil
liberty, privacy, cyber security, safety, and tech product user
concerned the ability to monitor, track, and data mine a
tech-product user for financial gain.
M. Lee is a privacy and data security consultant and Blackops Partners
analyst and researcher: www.MySmartPrivacy.com