In Episode 062 of Leading Lines, Derek Bruff’s guest Chris Gillard begins talking about changing his twitter handle to something insulting Amazon as a joke. In explaining his motivation behind this, he said “I’m very troubled to say the least by the surveillance network amazon is building.” While almost just a comment in passing, I found this to be an extremely interesting comment. This is because of the role amazon is begging to play in our society. For a long time, I have claimed that the things amazon is beginning to do are not only troublesome in terms of our security, but also in terms of our economy and our survival.
What Amazon started out doing was fine. Providing an online marketplace to compete with in-store shopping and with online shopping on companies’ sites was a good idea. However, the success of that idea has allowed Amazon to expand into much more than that. As Amazon out competes retail and closes stores, and as it grows dominance as the only mainstream online marketplace, its power becomes too intense. This is shown in the fact that it has been proven that Amazon’s actions directly impact inflation, which no one company should be able to do, and that municipal governments competed and begged for Amazon’s headquarters. This business such a powerful presence, and it is expanding. Amazon is planning to start it own banking system. This would make the Amazon experience completely contained: people could hold their money in Amazon and use it to purchase what they need in Amazon. The problem is that this involves giving away so much financial and personal data. And not to the government; to a private company. If the government can abuse data, a private company can do worse, and a private company that it seems can’t be held accountable because society is starting to depend on it can do much, much worse.