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Google/Facebook are to the health of our human rights and democracy what Philip Morris is to the health of our bodies and what Exxon Mobil is to the health of our habitat.

If you’re a doctor, you do not get sponsored by Big Tobacco. If you’re an environmentalist, you do not get sponsored by Exxon Mobil. If you’re a privacy advocate, a human rights activist, or a democrat, you do not get sponsored by Google, Facebook, or any other surveillance capitalist.

It’s that simple.

@aral
I tend to agree. But I do wonder what @scholzt_newschooledu and @ntnsndr have to say about the issue of taking Google money for an otherwise praiseworthy project? Surely they have thought about these issues too and have some justification for taking Google money.

@GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr Well that’s a million reasons to love surveillance capitalism right there :)

OTOH, as far as I know, the platform cooperative movement has never taken a stand against surveillance capitalism. So it is what it is. Afaics there’s nothing in being a platform cooperative that stipulates you must have an ethical business model or bars you from being a surveillance capitalist. It’s just a flatter structure for sharing profit.

@aral @ntnsndr @scholztnewschooledu @guerillaontologist For most people it is harder to act unethically if you think you can control the situation and believe yourself to have the power (and thus responsibility) to act differently.

In cooperatives, more people have power than in more hierarchical structures, increasing the odds that someone will speak up due to not being comfortable with the unethical conduct rather than being fearful of being fired or disciplined by (the unethically-acting-and-demanding) boss for being "difficult" or something like that.

@pettter @aral @ntnsndr @scholzt_newschooledu
That's all true, but my worry with this project is that the dev kit will include Google software/tracking BS, and thus any co-op using the kit will automatically be brought into the Google fold. There are a lot of good people, who I trust, like @FreeScholar on the consortium, but I've seen too many good projects and good people get co-opted by big corporate money to not be worried that this deal with the devil will have issues in the details.

@guerillaontologist @aral @ntnsndr @scholztnewschooledu @freescholar Oh for sure, one should always be sceptical and wary of big business involvement.

Mine was a comment relating solely to why one would expect cooperatives and anarchic/democratic structures to act more ethically than hierarchical and authoritarian ones.
@aral @ntnsndr @scholztnewschooledu @guerillaontologist @freescholar (which, I realise after looking more closely upthread, was entirely offtopic and irrelevant. Apologies!)

@pettter @aral @ntnsndr @scholzt_newschooledu @GuerillaOntologist Yes and It is a really good question and a #1 reason why we must have something in our mission statement on how we as coops will treat our platform clients ethically by protecting their freedom and privacy.

@FreeScholar @pettter @aral @scholzt_newschooledu @GuerillaOntologist Right. The thing about co-ops is they don't guarantee good behavior, but they provide a framework for achieving it.

@GuerillaOntologist @pettter @aral @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr @FreeScholar

I'm not directly involved in the project in any way. But my understanding is that Google tech is not involved in it, just Google.org $. Also it is focused on labor platforms more than data platforms (to the extent there is a difference).

My work on #platformcoop is full of attacks on surveillance capitalism. That has been a critical aspect of this community's concern.

@ntnsndr @GuerillaOntologist @pettter @scholzt_newschooledu @FreeScholar Hey Nathan, thanks for the reply. I’m not going to get into the Google.org thing as my views on that are well known (and Exxon Mobil should start ExxonMobil.org, they’re missing a trick).

Re: platform coop and surveillance capitalism: is there any rule that says you cannot setup a platform coop that is an adtech/tracking/profiling company?

@aral @GuerillaOntologist @pettter @scholzt_newschooledu @FreeScholar

1) Trebor's (very labor focused) 10 principles include rejection of excessive surveillance: rosalux-nyc.org/wp-content/fil

2) In my view, adtech/tracking/profiling can have very different meanings when the participants have meaningful access to co-ownership and governance. E.g.: midata.coop

@aral @ntnsndr @GuerillaOntologist @pettter @scholzt_newschooledu @FreeScholar

big bad companies are easy to spot, but what also is happening is like in 1980s/1990s movies and TV produced by "cool" young directors where everyone (especially rebellious young characters and "action man" types) were still lighting up cigarettes on screen in spite of increasing health concerns, and often the brand names were prominent in the shows and got round other bans on tobacco advertising..

@aral @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr

You're not wrong...and yet it pains me to hear it put so bluntly...please try to sugar-coat your truths a little more next time. Thanks.

@aral @GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr

"It’s just a flatter structure for sharing profit."

There's a nuance here concerning the difference between "profit" in a capitalist firm, and "surplus" in a co-op. Since a co-op returns surplus to users on the basis of use, rather than capital investment, it's not a "flatter" way of sharing profits, but a way to deliver a service at-cost with what's functionally a rebate if there is a surplus.

@aral @GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu

So, agreeing with @ntnsndr's point, a cooperative firm with a business model of collectively marketing its users' data (with their consent and compensation) is not necessarily "surveillance capitalism."

@mattcropp @GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr OK, I’m willing to call it Surveillance Capitalism Lite to separate it from full-fat surveillance capitalism.

@mattcropp @GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr (The reason I want people to have ownership over their selves is not because I want to profit off of a system in which their agency comes from selling that ownership. This is about protecting personhood and human dignity, not profiting off of a system where people are still seen as property.)

@aral @GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr

But if it's not generating returns on capital, should it be called "capitalism"?

I think #SavvyCoop is an interested example. Members who are patients join, and researchers who want to study particular conditions are connected to the members for studies. The proceeds of the members' participation/data covers the co-op's operating expense, with the remainder remitted to the members pro-rated by the revenue they produced.

@aral @GuerillaOntologist @scholzt_newschooledu @ntnsndr Right now, #surveillanceCapitalism tramples on folks authentic consent and creates all sorts of horrible power dynamics. When people have self-ownership, freely marketing data about themselves, individually or collectively, is a different dynamic. Possibly also problematic for some reasons, but for different reasons if so.

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