While discussion of surveillance traditionally focuses on governments, the most pervasive surveillance of individuals is by corporations, made possible by new technologies and corporate business practices. These are largely invisible to those whose data are collected. The purpose is to predict and modify human behaviour to produce revenue and market dominance. The data are often used for other purposes, including aiding state surveillance.
Why It Matters
Pervasive surveillance of every aspect of our lives challenges long-standing social norms of privacy and individual rights and gives enormous power to those organizations able to make everyday lives transparent to themselves while rendering their own practices increasingly invisible to those whose data they are appropriating. At the same time, individuals become increasingly reliant on the new information and communication tools for social participation, thereby increasing their transparency and dependency.
The Centre for Free Expression facilitates public discussion and research on corporate surveillance, its impacts, the implications for democratic practice and individual rights, and the alternatives.