Publishers tend to think of this as “retention.” A study of 526 news organizations in the United States found that only 41% make it easy for people to cancel subscriptions online, and more than half trained customer service reps in tactics to dissuade customers who call to unsubscribe.
The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, recently made it clear that it sees the practice as 1) one of several “dark patterns that trick or trap consumers into subscriptions” and 2) straight-up illegal. The FTC vowed to ramp up enforcement on companies that fail to provide an “easy and simple” cancellation process, including an option that’s “at least as easy” as the one to subscribe.
2. To comply with the law, businesses must ensure sign-ups are clear, consensual, and easy to cancel. Specifically, businesses should provide cancellation mechanisms that are at least as easy to use as the method the customer used to buy the product or service in the first place.
If you think that some companies want to make money the honest way, by selling you stuff, while other companies are full of evil wizards who want to spy on you in order to deprive you of free will, then the answer is simple: just pay for stuff, and you’ll be fine.
But time and again, we learn that companies spy on you – and abuse you in other ways – whenever it suits them – even companies that make a lot of noise about how they don’t need to spy on you to make money. If a company has the power to abuse you – because of lock-in, or because someone else is making you use it – and if the company can make money by abusing you, it will abuse you.
A mass psychosis is an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of a society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions. Such a phenomenon is not a thing of fiction. Two examples of mass psychoses are the American and European witch hunts 16th and 17th centuries and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.
What is it? How does is start? Are we experiencing one right now?
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
NSO Group has been placed on a US blacklist by the Biden administration after it determined the Israeli spyware maker has acted “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”. Continue reading
The new FTC report studied the privacy practices of six unnamed broadband ISPs and their advertising arms, and found that the companies routinely collect an ocean of consumer location, browsing, and behavioral data. They then share this data with dodgy middlemen via elaborate business arrangements that often aren’t adequately disclosed to broadband consumers.
“Even though several of the ISPs promise not to sell consumers personal data, they allow it to be used, transferred, and monetized by others and hide disclosures about such practices in fine print of their privacy policies,” the FTC report said.
The FTC also found that while many ISPs provide consumers tools allowing them to opt out of granular data collection, those tools are cumbersome to use—when they work at all.
China has the world’s largest digital surveillance system. The state collects massive amounts of data from citizens in an effort to control behaviour. Critics call it “the most ambitious Orwellian project in human history.”
In the so-called “brain” of Shanghai, for example, authorities have an eye on everything. On huge screens, they can switch to any of the approximately one million cameras, to find out who’s falling asleep behind the wheel, or littering, or not following Coronavirus regulations. “We want people to feel good here, to feel that the city is very safe,” says Sheng Dandan, who helped design the “brain.” Surveys suggest that most Chinese are inclined to see benefits as opposed to risks: if algorithms can identify every citizen by their face, speech and even the way they walk, those breaking the law or behaving badly will have no chance. It’s incredibly convenient: a smartphone can be used to accomplish just about any task, and playing by the rules leads to online discounts thanks to a social rating system.