To understand how much commerce has changed in recent years, consider a simple trip to the grocery store. When you drive to the store now, your movements are recorded by your cellphone provider, your car’s GPS, your smartphone apps and police license-plate scanners. At the store, a sensor system recognizes your phone and notes that this is your first visit in several weeks — which spurs a piece of software at the chain’s Midwestern headquarters to send you more coupons for your favorite items. CCTV cameras log your movements and may read your facial expressions so as to gauge your reactions to certain products. Your frequent-shopper card and credit card ensure that your purchase is recorded permanently. As you drive home, the store already may be selling your personal information to data brokers. From there it potentially goes anywhere.
I reviewed Julia Angwin’s book about surveillance for the LA Times.