Skeptics will chalk this one up to just more overreach by Chinas surveillance state, something that could never happen here in the US But we should consider Chinas deep dive into comprehensive data-fueled surveillance to be a cautionary tale. One need look no further than the National Security Administrations PRISM program, which relied on data from companies including Verizon, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook in an effort to prevent terrorism that prompted widespread backlash from privacy watchdogs and everyday citizens.
Whether corporations like it or not, governments want the data they gather. Chinas documentation on the system refers to internet data as a strategic national resource, lending even more weight to the concept of cyberspace as a theater for modern-day warfare much the way disputed waters and oil-rich land are.
The Federal Trade Commission is well aware of the potential for discriminatory data misuse that could seriously affect peoples personal finances or ability to get a job. In January, the agency published a report on the potential for data analysis to produce inadvertent discrimination by advertisers. And in 2008, the agency settled with Visa and MasterCard marketing firm CompuCredit Corporation, alleging that the company failed to disclose that it used a behavioral scoring model to reduce some consumers lines of credit if they used cash advances to pay for marriage counseling and items and services at bars, nightclubs, pawn shops and massage parlors.
Remember the good ol days when all we had to worry about were police cameras in public spaces?