…Is “Yes, I have read the terms and conditions.” This is because, well, in the famous words of Sweet Brown,
But perhaps people are going to reconsider that one. The recent iCloud hacking scandal resulting in celebrities having private photos sprawled across the web has caused global chaos.
The leaking of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence in particular has people asking two questions. The first question is irrelevant and unnecessary and goes something along the lines of “why would you even have nude pictures of yourself saved?” And the second, more important question is “what do you mean Google/YouTube/Facebook is already spying on us all the time anyway?”
Yes, while the hacking is not only intrusive, violating and a crime, it is also a rude awakening for many to hear that these big data companies also have access to everything you search, share and even own the pictures you upload.
“Okay, yeah, but so what? They’ll never really do anything with your information though,” I hear people say all the time. But if you look at Max Schrems’ case in 2011 where he requested Facebook send him every piece of personal information they had on him, he received 1,222 pages of content. From personal messages, to pages liked, to search history to GPS tracking, it was all there. Or in slightly more extreme cases, you could look at Pedro Bravo, who allegedly murdered his roommate in 2012 and then proceeded to asked his iPhone assistant Siri where to hide the body. Needless to say, this information was tracked and used against him. So, if information about you was ever needed, it’s all tucked away for future references. Our Internet and mobile phone use have become a human tracking system.
Discussing this further with peers and tutor alike, we concluded that as users of Google or Facebook, we are the product. The information extracted from our Internet use is packaged and sold as content to whoever will pay for it as needed. This is evident by just looking at Google’s terms and services which state:
“Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
So… basically we own our content but really Google does too. Looking at Mitew’s (2014) feudalism analogy, Google is the lord who owns the land, or space, on the Internet and as users, we are the vassals who may have our own space, but ultimately we work in allegiance to the lords. What is interesting is that while we work for our own survival and wealth in allegiance to the data lords, they simultaneously live off our labour.
After taking a closer look at the concept of iFeudal and terms and agreements of data companies such as Google, are you inclined to alter the content you upload and share on the Internet? Why or why not?