We keep hearing that privacy is eroded as a result of the digital revolution. Zuboff ayas, however, that “privacy is not eroded but redistributed.” We don’t know how Google and Facebook operate. They have privacy because they have the means to keep their operations private. Moreover, they have an opportunity to take over our privacy and make it theirs. Privacy still exists and it’s bigger than ever. It just doesn’t exist for us because it’s something that can be mined for profit by others.
Zuboff offers a great analysis of the language games played to conceal the redistribution of privacy. To give a single example,
The word “targeted” is another euphemism. It evokes notions of precision, efficiency, and competence. Who would guess that targeting conceals a new political equation in which Google’s concentrations of computational power brush aside users’ decision rights as easily as King Kong might shoo away an ant, all accomplished offstage where no one can see?
Of course, “targeted” also evokes military operations, which is closer in meaning to what the tech giants do.