As Google And Uber Betray Us, Trust In Digital Business Reaches New Low
The FDA just approved the first Internet of Things medication. Abilify MyCite is a pill that includes a tiny transmitter capable of sending a signal to an Internet-connected device after it has been ingested – specifically when it comes in contact with stomach acid. Supporters of the surveillance pill technology promise a ”digital liberation”, but the history of abuse of other digital technologies by big business suggests that digital victimization is more likely.
This week, the depth of abuse by digital businesses reached new lows, as Google admitted that it has been tracking the physical locations of the users of its Android smartphones, even when those users adjusted the settings on their devices to indicate that they did not want their locations to be tracked. Google promised it wouldn’t spy on its users’ locations, but it was lying, and spied on them anyway. There is no way for Android owners to prevent electronic surveillance of their movements, short of abandoning their smartphones. Google didn’t reveal this information voluntarily, but only after being caught in its deception through an independent Quartz investigation.
Uber has also been caught in a massive deception against its users. About a year ago, hackers penetrated Uber’s weak security, and stole private information about 57 million Uber users. Then, instead of telling its users that their information had been stolen by criminals, Uber tried to cover it up by making ransom payments to the hackers. Uber was already under investigation for other violations of its security obligations.
Technology corporations have a long track record of lying, cheating, stealing, spying, and selling out their users, all in order to make a quick profit. Yet, instead of new regulations to protect us from abuse by the big businesses of Big Data, we’re seeing an expansion of the technology that’s being used to victimize hundreds of millions of people.
To digital businesses, promises of privacy seem only to serve as benchmarks to be broken, statements of false security that set new standards for betrayal. So, when Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. the maker of Abilify MyCite, promises that the automated notification systems on their medications will remain private, we have no reason to believe that this will be true. When Otsuka pledges that its Internet of Things automated digital pills won’t be used to coerce people into taking medication against their will, reasonable people see the promise as a warning that digital pharmaceutical coercion is on its way.
Aripiprazole is prescribed to patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and to augment antidepressants. There are reasonable grounds for patients to be worried about complying with doctors’ orders to use Abilify MyCite. The medication currently approved for Abilify MyCite is aripiprazole, a medication that is known to cause elderly patients to die at elevated rates. Otsuka also admits that, ”Intense urges, particularly for gambling, and the inability to control these urges have been reported” in association with the medication. What’s more, aripiprazole can increase social isolation among those who take it, impairing their ability to think clearly and making it impossible to engage in many simple, everyday tasks, such as driving a car.
In the past, if you were under pressure to take mind-altering substances that could ruin and even end your life, and didn’t want to comply with a doctor’s prescription of a medication, all you had to do was simply abstain from taking the pills. You had the freedom to lie. With Abilify MyCite and the digitization of medication, that freedom is gone.
What other kinds of behavior will the Internet of Things compel us to engage in?