The surveillance advertising to financial fraud pipeline

Finding suckers is the one thing ad-targeting is good at.

Cory Doctorow


Hieronymus Bosch’s painting ‘The Conjurer,” which depicts a con artist playing a shell game with a bunch of gawping medieval yokels. The conjurer’s head has been replaced with the menacing red eye of HAL 900 from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ Image: Cryteria (modified) CC BY 3.0

Monday (October 2), I’ll be in Boise to host an event with VE Schwab. October 7–8, I’m in Milan to keynote Wired Nextfest.

Being watched sucks. Of all the parenting mistakes I’ve made, none haunt me more than the times my daughter caught me watching her while she was learning to do something, discovered she was being observed in a vulnerable moment, and abandoned her attempt:

It’s hard to be your authentic self while you’re under surveillance. For that reason alone, the rise and rise of the surveillance industry — an unholy public-private partnership between cops, spooks, and ad-tech scum — is a plague on humanity and a scourge on the Earth:

But beyond the psychic damage surveillance metes out, there are immediate, concrete ways in which surveillance brings us to harm. Ad-tech follows us into abortion clinics and then sells the info to the cops back home in the forced birth states run by Handmaid’s Tale LARPers:

And even if you have the good fortune to live in a state whose motto isn’t “There’s no ‘I” in uter-US,” ad-tech also lets anti-abortion propagandists trick you into visiting fake “clinics” who defraud you into giving birth by running out the clock on terminating your pregnancy:

The commercial surveillance industry fuels SWATting, where sociopaths who don’t like your internet opinions or are steamed because you beat them at Call of Duty trick the cops into thinking that there’s an “active shooter” at your house, provoking the kind of American policing autoimmune reaction that can get you killed: