The content we post on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc., none of this content belongs to us. Our tweets and posts and pictures belong to the platforms we post them on. If you don’t believe me, go make a thermos of tea and read their Terms of Services and End User License Agreements.
There’s an article posted on Boing Boing about Google intentionally bricking devices, which users have already bought and paid for. To brick a device means to render it inoperable and useless. I’ve had my reservations about Google for a few years now, and this is just another item of a long list of issues. It’s another thing that makes it clear Google’s once famous motto “Don’t be evil” was always just a marketing gag never meant to be taken too seriously.
The device in question is Revolv, a home automation hub. You can use the home automation hubs to remotely control your networked home appliances, such as washing machines, fridges, home entertainment systems etc. This, among other aspects, is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). In an age where it has long become normal to overshare on social media, and have your every click on the Internet and every phone call tracked by corporations and governments, concepts such IoT are hugely problematic.
Google, through the Internet connectivity, destroyed customers’ Revolv devices, because it is in competition with Nest. A home automation hub that Google would prefer you used, instead of using Revolv. That is, you have already bought and paid for your Revolv device, and you’re happily using it. Then Google acquires the company Revolv, and announces that as of tomorrow, May 15, 2016, it will killswitch all the Revolv hubs you already own. As in your private property.
Section 1201 of the DMCA — the law that prohibits breaking DRM — means that anyone who tries to make a third-party OS for Revolv faces felony charges and up to 5 years in prison.
The above quote basically means, if you try to resist Google connecting into your house to destroy your device, i.e. if you try to resist by installing an operating system on your Revolv hub, which cannot be tampered with by Google, you will be facing FELONY charges, and sent to prison for up to 5 years.
As technology evolves, we find ourselves owning less and less, being monitored and controlled more and more, and losing our means of self-determination. Corporations now have the power to send you to prison, if you do not use a device you bought in a manner of which they approve. You can be banned from social media for expressing yourself in ways which might be deemed to undermine white privilege, for example. Look at who gets banned on Twitter, and who doesn’t. Your Internet connected car radio can be bricked, if you listen to a radio station, which doesn’t belong to the manufacturer’s list of approved radio stations.
The magnitude of this IoT will not become obvious until biotechnology reaches a point where Internet-connected devices are embedded in our bodies, for health, communication and entertainment purposes. Already, pacemakers have been Internet-connected for quite some time. When the rights of the consumer are constantly being eroded for the sake of corporations maximizing their profits, the future we face is a bleak one, my friends.