If Data Is the New Oil, Then Why I Am Still Broke?

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Just over a century ago — 107 years ago to be precise — the United States Supreme Court made a landmark ruling to break up the Standard Oil Company, ruling that it was an illegal monopoly.
At its peak, Standard controlled nearly 90 percent of the country’s oil production, to the frustration of the government and the general public alike. It struck deals with railroads, refineries, pipeline operators, and marketing companies, tapping the oil wealth buried beneath the American continent to amass a legendary fortune for founder John D. Rockefeller.
But in 1911, after the filing of an antitrust lawsuit by the Department of Justice two years previously, Standard Oil was ordered to be broken up into 34 smaller companies each of which operated independently. The ruling was made so as to foster greater competition in the field, and to break up a trust that was acting against the best interests of the American people.
For much of the 20th century, it was these kind of fossil fuel companies along with manufacturing firms like Ford Motors and General Electric that were the archetypal American corporations. But in the 21st century a new commercial model emerged: that of the information economy. Last year, British financial magazine The Economist wrote: “The most valuable resource is no longer oil — it’s data.”
Information has always been valuable, of course. But it had never before been a resource that was generated, captured, analyzed and indexed at such a huge scale. The data economy has spawned its own infrastructure for delivery: Instead of pipelines, undersea fiber optic cables. Instead of oil rigs and refineries, server farms and data storage centers. And most of this wildly valuable data is about us: Regular internet users, with our likes and dislikes, our credit scores, spending habits, political opinions, geographical locations, travel preferences, and so on.
So if we generate the data, why don’t we have a say in how it’s used?
The answer comes down to ownership. As the new data economy birthed internet giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon, as users of these platforms we entered into a deal we didn’t even know we were making: give up control of our personal data as the price of using an otherwise free service. Theorist Shoshana Zuboff has given the economic model a name: “surveillance capitalism”. Just like commodity capitalism, Zuboff writes, surveillance capitalism began with an accumulation phase in which large companies took over the resources provided by individual participants, without sharing the dividends.
By the time the value of this resource became clear, it was too late: individuals had already ceded ownership of their data to tech giants.
In today's digital map, there are clear cases in which masses of data are being extracted and commodified. Google Map has been pioneer in this space. According to CBS News, Google tracks your movements, like it or not.
For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. If you agree to let it record your location over time, Google Maps will display that history for you in a "timeline" that maps out your daily movements.
Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects - such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene. So the company will let you "pause" a setting called Location History.
Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you've been. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."
That isn't true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.
For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies," or "kids science kits," pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude - accurate to the square foot - and save it to your Google account.
The privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google's Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.
Storing location data in violation of a user's preferences is wrong, said Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission's enforcement bureau. A researcher from Mayer's lab confirmed the AP's findings on multiple Android devices; the AP conducted its own tests on several iPhones that found the same behavior.
"If you're going to allow users to turn off something called 'Location History,' then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off," Mayer said. "That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have."
Google says it is being perfectly clear.
"There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. "We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time."
To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. Called "Web and App Activity" and enabled by default, that setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.
When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. But leaving "Web & App Activity" on and turning "Location History" off only prevents Google from adding your movements to the "timeline," its visualization of your daily travels. It does not stop Google's collection of other location markers.
You can delete these location markers by hand, but it's a painstaking process since you have to select them individually, unless you want to delete all of your stored activity.
You can see the stored location markers on a page in your Google account at myactivity.google.com, although they're typically scattered under several different headers, many of which are unrelated to location.
To demonstrate how powerful these other markers can be, the AP created a visual map of the movements of Princeton postdoctoral researcher Gunes Acar, who carried an Android phone with Location history off, and shared a record of his Google account.
The map includes Acar's train commute on two trips to New York and visits to The High Line park, Chelsea Market, Hell's Kitchen, Central Park and Harlem. To protect his privacy, The AP didn't plot the most telling and frequent marker -- his home address.
Huge tech companies are under increasing scrutiny over their data practices, following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and new data-privacy rules recently adopted by the European Union. Last year, the business news site Quartz found that Google was tracking Android users by collecting the addresses of nearby cellphone towers even if all location services were off. Google changed the practice and insisted it never recorded the data anyway.
Critics say Google's insistence on tracking its users' locations stems from its drive to boost advertising revenue.
"They build advertising information out of data," said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company. "More data for them presumably means more profit."
That’s where blockchain-based digital map like Hyperion come in. Hyperion will open source dMap, both client side to back-end codes on MSC. Privacy related service such as localization, location-based search and recommendation will be implemented as native MSC to fully exploit the privacy-preserved features of MapChain. MapChain supports reproducible and verifiable proof of timestamped localization, the SpaceTime Verification (STV), that provides zero knowledge proof of location and allow data owner to validate it afterward. Example uses of SpaceTime Verification include verifying the location attribute of location-based comment to avoid fake comment, and verifying the physical presence of users to claim location-based coupons or received location-based advertisements .
Hyperion organically integrates innovations of three important dimensions, coined as the Hyperion Trinity of map technology, economy and society structures, to eventually achieve a sustainable and self-governed map economy of the world. People are empowered to build map technology, share economical return and govern map communities.
 

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