How to save the Individual Privacy in the age of Surveillance Capitalism?                                                                                              


The path from capitalism of surveillance to social capitalism                               

DR. Yaacov Hecht                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


The first two decades of the 21st century have brought us a huge leap in technology and digitization. In the 1980s and 1990s, we witnessed how the development of technology, digitalization and gradual globalization began to affect every aspect of our lives.

Technological development, as well as the significant impact of the Internet on our lives, brings with it many opportunities, but also many risks. On the one hand, we have constant access to information, we can communicate with people from all over the world without any barriers. But on the other hand, our data is in the hands of the owners of large corporations such as Facebook and Google, and we have long lost control over our privacy and the information we share. An important change has also occurred at the level of senders and receivers of messages – we are now both creators and readers on the web. This means that the information we access may not always be considered true. Since the beginning of their online activities, large corporations have enjoyed an extraterritorial status. As a result, their activities were not subject to any control by national governments or international organizations.

The growing importance of large corporations such as Google, Facebook and Apple, combined with the hard-to-find status of these companies, has meant that they are now an “unstoppable machine”. The big tycoons have a monopoly on creating the reality in which we, as web users, participate.

In this article I take a look at the threats to the modern world in a context somewhat broader than that of technology. I will try to find a solution to the main threats of the modern world, which I see in the lack of privacy and ubiquitous surveillance, price speculation, restriction of economic freedom and individual liberty, as well as in the progressive degradation of the environment and lack of transparency in the activities of businesses.

We must remember that some of the negative effects of the actions of large corporations can already be observed now, but most of them will be felt in the near future. Taking advantage of the opportunities brought to us by globalization and digitalization of the world – we have lost sight of the dangers these two phenomena bring.

Large corporations do not act in our interest, but instead seek to accumulate the profits generated by 99% of society in the 1% of the richest. Not only do they not care about the environment, but by their actions they seek to destroy it on a scale greater than ever before.

Due to the fact that all these actions are happening “with white gloves on”, our vigilance has been put to sleep. And unfortunately, it is going to get worse. We can already see the negative effects of pollution in the form of typhoons, floods and fires that are killing people around the world.

Already our data are being used against us and our privacy has lost its meaning – over time we will be completely stripped of subjectivity and even our thoughts will cease to be truly our own. We are already living on credit, with a false sense of making money while banks don’t physically have our funds. Already, companies are not operating transparently, and it will come to the point where the individual will completely lose his or her footing and be defenseless when it comes to asserting his or her rights.

In this article I not only make a diagnosis for the modern world, but most importantly I try to find an answer to what we can do to stop the process of degradation of our society.

I see the remedy for the progressive degradation of the modern world in social capitalism, which is the only existing system that has a chance to become a natural counterweight to surveillance capitalism. While considering the opportunities offered by implementing the assumptions of social capitalism in everyday life I came across the UseCrypt Nation project. I became interested in it because in my opinion it is one of the few or even the only one that gives us ready-made solutions on how to turn a noble theory into real life.

Surveillance capitalism

Surveillance capitalism has become a reality. Shoshana Zuboff, who studies the transformation of the modern world in the economic context, notes that we are now dealing with a new global political system. Zuboff calls this phenomenon surveillance capitalism, which centers around the use of our personal data for profit. We’re talking about the enormous profits that are generated by the fact that large corporations like Facebook and Google have access to our personal data, know our needs and longings – often even those that we’re not fully aware of. Thanks to this, they can easily target us with products and services that we don’t really need. Due to the lack of regulation and control of the flow of data in the network on the part of states and institutions, their actions are not subject to evaluation. The famous examples that confirm the reality of such threats in practice are for example the presidential election campaigns. Information about potential candidates was displayed to people who were undecided so far and in this way persuaded them to support a given candidate. As a result of such actions, the candidate “suggested” by one of the big, corporate tycoons won the election. How is it possible that in such a developed country as the U.S., boasting a perfect democratic system, Donald Trump owes his victory to actions carried out on Facebook? Can we speak of any freedom and the right to self-determination in the context of this phenomenon? And finally: what other evidence do we need that large corporations support the interests of governments and collectively seek to accumulate profits in the hands of the richest?

Shoshana Zuboff points out that “analysis of massive data sets began as a way to reduce uncertainty by discovering the probability of future patterns in the behavior of people and systems.”  The process of collecting useful data and information occurs without the knowledge or consent of humans, and has been termed instrumentalism by Zuboff.           

Just as the development of advanced mechanization in the 19th century and transportation (trains and railroads) provided the basic infrastructure for the rise of the first phase of capitalism in that century, the Internet and mobile technology provide the infrastructure for the new wave of capitalism of the early 21st century. The biggest problem, however, is that the modern phase of capitalism favors large corporations and giants who have a monopoly on information and mind control on a grand scale. The technological revolution is happening on two levels: one is about digitization and all that takes place online, and the other is happening at the level of everyone’s consumer behavior (and beyond).

What are the biggest pitfalls of surveillance capitalism?

First, most of society is too busy trying to improve their wealth status to be able to diagnose for themselves the negative consequences of the modern system on their lives.

Second, corporate giants have powerful instruments of manipulation and it is hard for us to accept that they do not mean well for us – on the contrary, they use us for their own purposes.

Third, for real change, we need a snowball effect that will make many more people feel that they have a real influence on changing the system.

Behavioral Engineering and the loss of individual and collective privacy

Portals like Google,Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter are used daily by billions of people around the world. The search engine allows us to obtain information, search for goods and services. In turn, social networking sites give us the opportunity to stay in touch with people from all over the world, express our opinions, and also enable us to create our image and build a community, which over time may become a target group for us, using our products or services. With the daily use of the opportunities that the Internet giants give us, our vigilance decreases. It’s hard for us to see that they involve real threats that affect our daily lives and the choices we make. After all, we are all there: our friends, family, employer or neighbors. The use of services that limit our freedom has become so widespread that it is hard for us to see the real threats they pose.

Large corporations such as Facebook, Google and other Internet giants systematically collect data and information online for commercial and economic purposes. Thanks to this, they know our needs and consumption patterns of products and services in every sphere of our lives. Besides, they also try to shape and dictate political and social opinions and views of people around the world.  How, then, do these actions differ from the restriction of freedom in totalitarian systems?              

Internet moguls have become the primary mediators of the political-social and economic realities that supposedly exist in the national and international arenas for billions of people around the world, instead of the traditional media of television stations, radio stations, and the printed press. It is the Internet corporations that have developed a detailed set of political and social interests and needs that support their economic and commercial interests. An interesting example that confirms the extraterritorial nature of the Internet tycoons’ activities is the current turmoil between Mark Zuckerberg and the European Union. When the EU developed regulations related to the protection of data privacy of Meta (once Facebook) users in Europe – Zuckerberg threatened to withdraw his social network from the member states of the community. This situation shows how much power one of the owners of major corporations wants for himself and how much he does not want to conform to any norms and rules.

Thus, these Internet tycoons have become a kind of extraterritorial, multinational power that has an integrated system of commercial-economic-political and social interests and needs. A system that is not subject to any sovereign laws and influential regulations of national governments and international organizations. Moreover, many national governments have similar political and economic interests as Internet corporations. These governments and their agencies support the policies of large corporations in collecting data on billions of people around the world. The systematic and continuous digital collection of data and information on the Internet is increasingly reducing the privacy dimensions of almost every individual. Internet corporations not only want to know every possible detail about every individual, but they want to shape and influence their consumer behavior and more.

We can call this dangerous process Behavioral Engineering, one of whose negative consequences is the loss of individual and collective privacy. We must remember that the right to real privacy of every citizen, in every sphere of life, especially citizens living in democratic systems, should be guaranteed by state constitutions, as well as by relevant regulations and laws. Privacy in the Age of Behavioral Engineering is becoming an increasingly vague concept, and it is this inability to clearly define privacy that makes it easier for large corporations and state governments to exercise control over us.

The process of loss of individual privacy is not just occurring on the Internet, but is taking place in many areas of life – a situation that is creating an Surveillance Environment. In many apartments and homes you can find smart TVs and even smart refrigerators, which are actually computerized digital devices that collect valuable information about the behavior of the people who are inside them. And here once again: technological advances and conveniences actually lead to the enslavement of the individual.                                                                                                       

The loss of privacy is one of the dominant aspects of the political and economic regime that is developing in the first two decades of this century, it is the one mentioned earlier – the regime of surveillance capitalism.  

In a flurry of information and a rapidly globalizing world, it is worth taking a moment to stop and ask ourselves: what are the real threats to the privacy crisis we face? What could top-down price speculation lead to?

In the privacy dimension, the main threat is that our data ceases to be our data. Let’s imagine the moment when we log on to Facebook. Do we read its terms and conditions carefully? And if so, do we know what it means in practice? The situation is similar in the case of search engines. Let’s think about whether the information that appears in them is really what we are looking for. Is it data that someone has deemed most suitable for us, and in fact – intends to use it for their own purposes. We have to realize that every action we take online leaves a trace, and nothing we do is anonymous. Our conversations through various instant messengers are not secret either.

In other words: through the ambiguity and complexity of the system, we willingly give away for free the most precious thing we have: our privacy.

Professor Randolph Lewis of the University of Texas, in his book Under Surveillance: Being Surveilled in Today’s America, notes that people who feel the power of surveillance are overwhelmed by its ubiquity. The desire for privacy is a natural human need. However, society has a limited ability to assess the dangers of privacy restrictions and only reacts in extreme cases, such as the protests in Poland against ACTA. People took to the streets only when they felt that the threat would affect them personally.

The situation is similar with dangers related to the loss of real value of money and price speculation. World banks are not free from manipulation, and our money will never really be ours.

Social Capitalism and how to began to recover your privacy

The progressive loss of individual privacy in the digital information age, caused primarily by the commercial-political actions of large Internet corporations with limited cooperation from some national governments, poses a threat to individual freedom and liberty even for citizens living in democratic systems that presume to secure a legitimate right to privacy through laws and constitutions.                                                                                                                             

The immediate threat does not become real only because of the cooperation of governments with large corporations such as Facebook, Google, and Apple, but because of the fact of the extraterritorial, multinational status of these corporations, their financial power and political influence that help them effectively avoid all governmental controls and regulations.                                                                                                                                      

The fight against the regime of surveillance capitalism is a crucial and unique issue, requiring a great deal of political and economic power that can be implemented with the necessary determination of governments, political and social grassroots movements, and corporations in many countries around the world. We may be seeing a slow shift in awareness, as evidenced by the aforementioned EU and Meta case.             

I have been thinking about how to move from theoretical considerations to practice and action. I was looking for a glue between beautiful theories of social capitalism and practice. And so, I came to the conclusion that we must use a safe product that can secure our privacy and will not be under any control and supervision of Internet corporations. This product will serve the principles of social capitalism. While looking for such a product I came across the UseCrypt Nation project which I will pay more attention to later in this article.

If this product becomes economically and commercially successful in the near future it may become an inspiration for other products, goods and services that will follow the same path. It may prove to be the impetus that puts pressure on millions of customers and consumers around the world for governments and international organizations to effectively combat surveillance capitalism

Social capitalism            

The alternative to surveillance capitalism is precisely social capitalism, i.e., a system based on real values, not empty slogans, in which every individual has optimal conditions for individual and balanced growth. In social capitalism, society unites on the path of development, making maximum use of its potential and supporting itself at all levels, and freedom and privacy become a fact, not an empty platitude.

Social capitalism can be called any capitalist system that is built on the ideology of freedom, equality and justice. Under this system, instead of seeking to accumulate purely economic forms of capital, it explicitly values all forms of capital, including social, human and natural capital. Instead of maximizing profit for 1% of humanity, it involves maximizing profit for society as a whole. This eliminates the effects of exploitation and makes it impossible to treat labor, and therefore human beings, as commodities.

Modern capitalism places capital in the hands of large companies and corporations, depriving users and smaller companies of the chance to co-create their power with a fair distribution of profits. The answer to this type of approach is precisely social capitalism. Social capitalism is the glue that holds together communities that share the same values. Under the right conditions, repeated and mutually beneficial social interactions lead to faster and better economic growth, stronger social ties, and better health for society as a whole.

UserCrypt Nation

In diagnosing the contemporary capitalist system, we can identify some of the most important threats that we will have to deal with in the near future. These include factors such as the lack of economic freedom associated with price speculation, restrictions on individual privacy and freedom, lack of transparency in the policies of companies and large corporations, environmental degradation, and manipulation of information by large corporations.

In my opinion an interesting solution to implement the assumptions of social capitalism in practice is UseCrypt Nation, which is a completely new Metaverse based on the assumptions of economic freedom and restoration of individual privacy. In my opinion it is the only solution the creators of which did not limit themselves to platitudes but prepared a ready-to-use product.

UseCrypt Nation is a separate ecosystem that creates ideal conditions for the development of whole societies based on the assumptions of social capitalism. Its main postulate is to bring together people with similar aspirations and values, as well as common desire to cooperate and achieve measurable goals. Apart from the system of values and the idea of associating people with similar values UserCrypt Nation is also a ready to use product. It includes a Token SoCap, which is based on the Binance Smart Chain. It is a non-inflationary cryptocurrency token that is free from any government regulation or third-party control. As a peer-to-peer currency, the SoCap token enables direct transactions between users while giving them full control over their funds and transactions. SoCap is changing the way trade is financed, allowing merchants around the world to transact without the involvement of any financial institution, without restrictions on trading goods or services. Businesses and ordinary people can make domestic and cross-border payments directly, using SoCap tokens, starting from today.   

How will UseCrypt Nation become a tool for implementing social capitalism principles?

I believe that in order to use UseCrypt Nation as a tool to implement the principles of social capitalism only one thing is needed now: people who, like me, will see the potential of the project, join its ecosystem and together start building a reality based on the principles of social capitalism.

The main mission of UseCrypt Nation is to create a new ecosystem with its own Metaverse, which will include not only the cryptocurrency free from speculation but also products of companies involved in the system such as completely secure online messengers which are a ready-made solution to protect the privacy of individuals and people. UseCrypt Nation is, in my opinion, an effective tool to promote and implement the main principles of social capitalism for the benefit of large groups of customers and consumers around the world. A benefit that will certainly affect the social and economic interests of other people who will not be direct members of the ecosystem.

How will UseCrypt Nation work in practice?

According to its creators, the main idea of UseCrypt Nation is to create solidarity and social responsibility.    

These activities will create the necessary infrastructure that will support even development and growth on three levels: social, human and natural capital.                                                                                      

The ever-growing awareness of tens of millions of customers and consumers around the world to preserve and promote socio-ecological values, such as preventing environmental pollution (air, water and soil pollution) and dealing with the dangerous process of global warming, are the inspiration for the creators of UseCrypt Nation to promote solidarity and social responsibility through the new cryptocurrency and the entire ecosystem associated with it.

This means that the product will fully reflect the mission and values of social capitalism. Part of the UseCrypt Nation ecosystem are companies aligned with the values and ideas that its creators represent. Together with the companies and individuals who join the project, UseCrypt Nation will create a counterbalance to the injustice and control of big corporations. The co-founders of UseCryptNation create solutions that will allow us to grow. By becoming a member of UseCrypt Nation we gain on a marketing, economic, and business level.

I believe that UseCrypt Nation will be an engine for change not only through procedures for the use of its cryptocurrency that will ensure full consumer privacy, but most importantly by creating through this product and with the support of its customers a socio-economic reality that will be based on the principles and values of social capitalism. At this moment, it is the only solution that combines a practical approach with theory, whose creators are successful in business and feel a real mission to change the world order for the better. I’ve been exposed to many solutions along the way of many years of research and exploration. Some of them were better, some worse, some of them I agreed with and some I didn’t fully agree with but only in UseCrypt Nation I found a bridge between theory and practice.