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The New Oligopoly Data Economy is here to stay 

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You are now part of the new economic model of data exploitation.

An electoral strategy consultancy firm exploited Facebook user data as a forma of market research. Users were not warned about it and their data became a precious tool to analyze political preferences in the last US election.

Exploiting user data is not new. Social networks have gobbled, kept and used data from members for years.  What is new, is the ways in which the data is exploited, sold, exchanged and abused to generate money.

Someone recently pointed out that the serious problem is not the abuse of data of millions of users, but the damage to their trust in the so-called data economy.

The serious thing is the current business model based on the exploitation of data of network users.

It is also concerning the obscurity of the “data economy” due to the abandonment of functions of the public powers in favor of deregulation, on the one hand, and the unbridled greed of some “digital entrepreneurs”, on the other.

These entrepreneurs have similar principles to those of banking corporations, pharmaceutical conglomerates and food corporations. They do not buy or sell food, drugs or financial services, they sell their users’ privacy.

The least serious thing is the Facebook crisis. The social network has been losing steam for years.

Zuckerberg’s empire, which includes Instagram and WhatsApp, will not take away any confidence from the data economy, no matter how many wrongs are found. The reason for this is that the whole world is trapped in the complex network of the virtual economy. Almost any transaction is dependent on a digitally globalized world.

The social network has been suffering for months as a result of its business model based on data mining for third parties, although it has also suffered successive crises for years due to its deficient privacy policies.

Steve Jobs warned Zuckerberg at a public event in 2008 and the problem reappeared in 2010 and 2014.

On the other hand, the data economy cannot claim to be reliable without giving back to those who provide their raw material – the data.

In other words, there is no free lunch, and as I pointed out twice before, any business where the product is free, the product is being sold is you. In this sense, the data economy is today both a plunder and an oligopoly.

It takes possession of something alien without compensation or conscious authorization from those who act as “lab rats”, who give away their identity in exchange for junk.

It is an oligopoly because those who control the real world are very few: the owners of the networks, which impose their rules without submitting to any control.

A data oligopoly model

Shortly after one frees oneself of the fad of blind faith in various technological gadgets and is able to reflect on seeing the situation from the outside, it will quickly conclude that the problem is reduced to a few very basic questions.

Essentially, who is in charge on the Internet, what is its structure and governance and how fiscalizable it is, how to earn money on the Internet based on trading with data from others, even without the conscious permission of its owners, and finally, what do our rulers do in this regard, what is the public regulatory model of the Internet.

It is the anwer to these questions what will provide the realization that the networks are commanded by their owners, who are those who earn money with a free raw material (data). The source of data feeds on the naivety and ego of users, and that our leaders do much less about it than they can and should.

About the author: Luis R. Miranda

Luis Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 20 years and almost every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, geopolitics, globalisation, health, corporate control of government, immigration and banking cartels. Luis has worked as a news reporter, On-air personality for Live news programs, script writer, producer and co-producer on broadcast news.

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