How to Resist Surveillance Capitalism

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Surveillance capitalism is a truly 21st century innovation which is having a major impact on society. Policies around data protection and privacy aren’t strong enough yet and trade deals don’t rightly aim to protect data privacy either. How our data is used and exploited isn’t up to us and it should be. Large corporations know more about you than you might realize and exploit that knowledge for their own gain- it doesn’t have to be that way.

How to resist collection of your behavioral data?
Solutions for consumers

Educating consumers and helping them make radical choices to influence the systems designed to harvest their data is one of the two important ways that can help us fight this crisis. We know that consumers stated privacy preferences are not reflected by the actions and choices they make, failing to act on recommendations they know would likely benefit them — this is commonly referred to as privacy paradox. I strongly believe this is something we can change together and that process starts with you and me. With the risk of being called a naive idealist, I believe we can lead by example in getting through the pains of giving up some of the convenience and ruthless pursuit of growth, ultimately affecting the course of history that is otherwise headed towards more surveillance, concentration of knowledge and power, and unethical exploitation of the human experience.

Privacy means having the agency to choose what you share, when you share it and who you share it with. The following recommendations can guide you, as an individual towards taking back that control and helping others do the same.

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Refugees Who Helped Snowden Welcomed to Canada

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One of the families who helped American whistleblower Edward Snowden stay safe while he was in Hong Kong have arrived in Canada. Snowden provided proof to the world that the USA spies on everyone including their own citizens. Due to his brave act he was the most wanted man on the planet and his safety was not assured by any state. During those few days in Hong Kong a couple families provided Snowden shelter since they too knew what it was like to be threatened by their own government.

It’s so nice to see that refugees who were struggling took time to help another in a similar situation get a happy next step. You can find out more about the Snowden refugees at For The Refugees.

“They are extremely brave people who have nothing, but when someone in distress needed them, they opened their doors,” said Montreal-based Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, one of the lawyers with the group.

“Instead of letting them live in a terrible situation without a future, we wanted to do something for them, as they wanted to do something for Edward Snowden.”

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Let’s Rethink Punishment

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When someone breaks the law or acts out in a transgressive manner we often turn to punishment to correct their behaviour. We do this in families and as a society, but is it right? If take a moment to look at the roots of modern punishment we might conclude that it’s best to try something else.

One answer is that punishment evolved to promote the greater good and prevent tragedies of the commons. This is the altruistic approach. Yes, punishment might be costly for the punisher, but (so the theory goes) it generates downstream benefits for others – stabilising cooperation, enforcing just rules, deterring freeriders. Punishment is probably essential for maintaining and enforcing norms, laws and customs. Yet its origins appear to trace back to a time before robust human societies, perhaps even before we had language to articulate the rules. Recent research has identified contexts where dominant chimps seem to punish freeloaders. So perhaps punishment preceded the benefits it generates.

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Weed is Legal in Canada

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Canadians can get high on their own supply thanks to marijuana legalization in the country, which starts today. The motivation for making marijuana illegal in Canada is arguably based on classism and racism. Indeed, the entire war on drugs has destroyed so many lives and it’s time for us to change our approach to drugs from a criminal issues to a health issue. Canada might be setting the stage for that switch; since a serious benefit is that people who were charged for pot should have the charges repealed this week.

Now go relax by enjoying some pot in a reasonable fashion.

The prime minister has argued that Canada’s nearly century-old laws criminalising use of the drug have been ineffective, given that Canadians are still among the world’s heaviest users.

Government officials told reporters on Tuesday that they are currently considering a fast-track process to allow people who have been convicted of possession to apply for legal pardons. There are currently some 500,000 Canadians with existing criminal records for possession.

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Schools Should Teach how to Dissent

The role of schools often gets debated in places where safety and wellbeing are in doubt. Some people argue all schools should do is make kids into workers with little concern towards student’s mental and physical health. On the other hand, many argue schools should be places where kids learn about the world around them for the sake of bettering oneself and society. To me it seems that now more than ever we should encourage education to be all about self and societal improvement (particularly since robots are taking all our jobs). Indeed, over at the Conversation they’re running a piece on the importance of teaching students to question the world in order to improve it.

It is only with the opportunity and capacity to dissent that we can determine if our laws and systems guiding us are good or just. Further, in order to invoke our right to dissent, citizens have to know how to dissent, which calls into play the role of schooling.

[Students] should learn the skills of dissent, including consciousness-raising, coalition building, persuasion, public demonstration and pursuit of traditional government avenues for change. This type of instruction is happening in some schools, but not systematically enough across all schools, as courses in civics and social studies have been cut in order to focus on testing and such. Students receive even less of this kind of instruction in poorer schools.

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