Zuboff: Surveillance Capitalism - explains exactly why these monopolies are so dangerous.

Expand full comment

Thank you for this. An excellent article focusing on the real dynamics of power versus layer upon layer of obfuscatory flimflam.

On interoperability, I think you are absolutely right to expose that having the ability to shift data from one data controller to another does nothing to change how the system itself works. But there is another angle on interoperability which is worth considering. Article 20 of the General Data Protection Regulations gives citizens the right to obtain electronic copies of data for themselves so that they can use this data independently of any and all data controller.

When this data is aggregated in the individual's personal data store - kept completely under the control of the individual - individuals begin to build uniquely valuable data assets of their own. These personal data stores can hold aggregations and combinations of data that no single organisation can possibly access in the normal, legal course of business, and which the monopolies cannot get at.

Providing individuals with the tools to directly manage and control their own data independently of, and separate to, any service providing organisation can, over time, make citizens themselves a counterbalancing source of power. We at Mydex Community Interest Company (mydex.org) have been working on this for the last 15 years, with increasing success. It is potentially another vector of attack on the data monopolies, in addition to break-up.

Interestingly and perhaps predictably, the Johnson Government has plans (outlined in its proposals 'Data: A New Direction) to abolish citizens' rights to data protection - a policy direction that goes in the exact opposite direction to the work of the CMU.

Expand full comment