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We recently blogged about the wide range and large amount of information Facebook collects from users and how it sells that information for profit. In that post, we referenced the fact that lots of companies are in the same business, just not to the extent Facebook is right now.

According to a CNN article, between 2,500 and 4,000 companies (data brokers) engage in the practice in the United States alone. Imagine what the worldwide total must be! Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff calls this practice surveillance capitalism and it is big business. Even Equifax, in the news last year for the major data breach, collects and sells personal data. Not only did they get hacked but they were actively collecting and selling lots of personal data, without permission from the people involved. This additional information makes the breach even more serious.

But what about surveillance capitalism? It is what drives (and pay for) most of the internet. Providers of free services and apps, large (Google, Facebook) and small use this to pay their costs and profits. It is all about making money by selling information to marketing companies that want to present ads of possible interest to every internet user. In the terminology of marketing, this is target marketing on steroids, with targeting provided by the recipients themselves.

Surveillance capitalism reveals itself when ads pop up during your browsing regarding things you have searched for or purchased. They are typically localized giving you places nearby that offer the product or service. This localization is the result of background mapping technology that identifies your current location. You might think it is only possible with your phone but using websites that ask for your location (trip planning, for example) enable localization on your PC.

This really can become creepy but it is all part of getting things without paying to use them. This widespread use of your personal information is a driving force behind the development of the pay-to-use CRIP.TO business model. Of course companies need to make money someway to pay for the things they offer free. CRIP.TO prefers to avoid the need to sell a user’s personal data by getting paid for the use of our services.

When you trust your information, identity, and anonymity to CRIP.TO, you can rest assured that no one, not even us, will be able to access your personal data in any way. It is how we give our customers the freedom to communicate fearlessly.

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