March

Simplicity Security Self

There is a new movement on our doorsteps. The world is beginning to wake up. The digital harvest of a precious commodity is coming to the surface of mainstream media.

Our personal information is the most valuable digital resource on earth, and conglomerates have fully understood this for a decade.

Ride sharing companies are not what they seem. They are information gold mines. Uber began by owning nothing physical except air and server space. The application connected 'contractors' to 'riders' for a commission. A simple premise that seemed like a reasonable trade off.

But it morphed. The data required to deliver services grew. It became incredibly crystal clear to executives that the ride sharing commission pales in significance to the data they had access to or had already collected. The company blew up and the valuation entered the 'three comma club'.

Uber have a mode that a quantity of employees had access to. They call it the 'God Mode'. How modest. How quaint.

Employees used this power to literally spy on ex-partners. An example of but one nefarious use. Think of the access that could be granted to third parties. Think of the damage if systems were breached. Think of the global power entrusted to a corporate entity.

Do we read the terms and conditions of Uber as we install the application? Do we consider the implications of allowing 'access' to 'location services' when we think it's reasonable for Uber to see where we are?

You can disable 'location services' on the Uber application. I use Uber this way. It adds 3 seconds to my booking time, as I simply search for my location via address, not GPS. I am constantly clicking 'no' to the app's continued efforts to enable location services, but it works fine without it. Uber never sees my location, but obviously knows my usage routes, times, home location (the clear start or stop for the majority of trips). However; I believe they are unable to use God Mode on me due to the denial of my 'location services' access via my phone's privacy settings. They are unable to simply switch my locations services on and locate me.

Yes, I use Uber. However, the service is absolutely going down hill. It's noticeable. Everyone I know notices it. I often wonder whether when cabs took off the service they provided was amazing, before it digressed into a unionized arm straight from hell. Years ago I've called cabs out, seen others hail and jump it up the stream of the street. I've been stranded, waiting an hour, then when the cab arrives the driver becomes unhappy with the destination so they speed off.

How can the taxi industry not see how horrific they have become? Selective service? Monopolies are dangerous. This extends to all services.

When Uber arrived it was a lifesaver. It still is a lifesaver. But mark my words: the service is going down hill.

It is better than a cab, but it's now a household name and effort isn't as necessary. And being better than a cab is like saying breast cancer is better than lung cancer: yes, but they are both horrific.

Uber has developed. They have realized their resource and potential. As has the market. Uber isn't the platform, it isn't the service or the contractors they 'hire'. It is the data they collect and store.

Consider an Uber corporate take over. Consider the intellectual property the lucky Uber purchaser would receive. Consider the power they would receive.

God Mode, alone, adds significant value to the company. The ability to simply track a user/driver without any work is insanely valuable.

What is in that terms of service we all blindly agreed to...? This really sticks under my skin. The sharing economy, sold to us as a savior to our troubles, is a lie of the Western world.

Do we actually want to drive strangers home in order to make a car repayment? Do we actually want a stranger in our homes? Do we want to stay in stranger's homes? These homes are not secure locations in any capacity.

A woman recently sued AirBnb after discovering spy cameras in the Californian apartment she was staying in. This story should be a wake up call. These locations are not within AirBnb's control. Everyone and anyone should not be in the hotel business. It's disturbing. Yet we're driven to these locations due to the death of the middle class and death of our purchasing ability.

We don't want to rent our apartment's out. But we can't make our repayments. Our wages haven't increased in decades, and we're left with little options. The wealth has shifted from the West to the East, and Chinese foreign investment is purchasing residence in the world's most livable cities, often leaving them empty. Melbourne's investment properties are overwhelmingly empty. 20 per cent of investment properties are empty. One in five. Empty shelter! While people live in tents on the streets, the homes are vacant.

Not only vacant, but dodging regulatory penalty through destruction of the environment: these empty apartment owners have at times left the power and lights on constantly to appear as though a person lives there. It's insane.

What the hell are we doing? Why are we agreeing through our conduct and participation to this broken system? Why are we hopping on the train at 8 AM, like ants returning to the nest. We walk like zombies staring at phone to our sky prisons, where we stare at screens, moving numbers around pointlessly, attending ironic meetings about managing time, and adhering to HR's obscene childish rhetoric.

And then we go home. We stare at another screen: this one gives us our opinions.

Eat. While watching.

Kiss. While listening and thinking.

Sleep. While listing to an episodic streaming laptop.

Repeat. While swallowing our SSRI, wondering briefly what happiness actually feels like.

Why are we ignoring the power a group of people have? We are torching our rights. We are winding back our freedoms. We are putting active microphones in our homes, holding tracking devices, and accepting terms we don't read.

The state of the world is slipping. You can feel it. Global powers are shifting. People are treated as cattle, herded by gadgets and dazzling lights. Our data, behavior, personal thoughts, movements, kinks, sexuality, profiles and purchases are being thrown into intelligent machine learning algorithms, designed to make us buy, vote, move, feel, or shut the fuck up.

The grass below my feet on a sleep hill, overlooking a valley with a river. The sun high in the sky, the air fresh. This exists in my mind as a noisy police helicopter flies slowly towards the city center: about a 15 minute walk from me. Remember reality. Remember hope and organization and faces and the sound of your voice.

Remember that 'people' are powerful. Users are not.