Find out what the
dragons know!

Let a predictive algorithm create a personality profile
from your social media or look at existing data sets to learn
how data brokers make their assumptions about
your health and financial situation.

Moral #5

Data Brokers collect our data, keep our profiles and offer our precious information for sale. They trust Artificial Intelligence with predicting behaviors, influencing votes and manipulating elections. We are told that numbers don’t lie, but feel the consequences of their heavily biased data analysis.

What we buy online, the content we „Like“ on social media, but also how much time we spend on a website or how reliably we answer calls on our smartphones – every digital piece of information we generate today is collected as evidence. The companies interpreting these data sets are called data brokers – terrible dragons gathering in the King’s dungeons, the mighty ruler gaining them access to all our crop. They keep profiles on almost everyone of us and this precious information is for sale. Insurance companies as well as businesses from the finance and health sector belong to their clientele. Government agencies are proven to purchase information from them to circumvent prevailing privacy laws.

But data brokers are not only able to determine who we are, they know who we will become in the future. Their core service used by businesses and governments alike lies within the prediction of consumers’ future decisions. Bathing in Zeros and Ones the dragons interpret the peasants’ omens, giving powerful weapons into the hands of those who can afford them.

Personality models like the „Big Five“ and predictive analytics used by data brokers start deciding over our futures – the targeted advertisement we receive being only their most obvious outcome. Algorithms influence votes, manipulate elections. Predictive policing tries to prevent crimes that have not even been committed yet. With workspace optimization methods employees are being surveilled, their performance scores determined in real-time. Job applicants are selected, trusting this employee data to contain the truth. We are told that “Data beats emotions”, that numbers don’t lie. But data analysis can suffer from great inaccuracies and has the tendency to exclude certain social groups. We already experience personalized price discrimination, and our creditworthiness is predicted by our social media profiles and interaction with smartphones. Criticism to such methods are silenced – in the case of credit loans, they would grant those access to loans that are usually left out by conservative credit approvals. But people are forced to give up their privacy, are left no chance but to reveal their intimacies. This supports the development of privacy becoming a luxury only wealthy people can afford. Data mining and predictive analytics is creating a competitive system around us. Depending on our consumers’ score we are treated differently – our options in life increasingly determined by machines. The dragons are growing more powerful everyday, while the majority of peasants doesn’t even know they exist yet…

Learn more!

“Our Machines Now Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand”
David Weinberger, Wired

“Data Exploitation”
Privacy International’s collected cases and stories that demonstrate its scope and prevalence

“Ich habe nur gezeigt, dass es die Bombe gibt”
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus, Das Magazin (German)