This morning my news feed had an article which was quite an eye-opener: following some boasting about having detailed data on some five billion users around the globe, Oracle corporation has been issued a class-action lawsuit by an Irish-based civil rights group claiming it has severely violated the privacy rights of entirely populations on the globe.
This announcement is interesting for several reasons:
- When we think about surveillance in general, often the first things that usually come to mind are government agencies. A piece of news like this serves as a very-needed reminder that nation-state-level surveillance capacity has to be powered by some effort from the private sector.
- Even when the topic is surveillance from Big Tech, Google and Facebook are usually the first culprits, with the rest of GAFAM following. Oracle is not usually associated with this topic.
- The article reminds us that even if a company's main business isn't a certain niche, Big Tech's game is acquisition. Microsoft is in the IT business, not HR business. Yet, it owns LinkedIn.
This third point is especially important in Oracle's case and their "five billion" claim. A company that started out making RDBMSes does not have to specialize in tracking technology as long as it has a highly specialized arm that takes care of it - which brings us to BlueKai. Founded 2008, this former startup specializes in tracking technology for marketing enhancements, and was acquired by Oracle in 2014 for 400 million dollars - a few crumbles compared to Oracle's 42 billion-a-year revenue. Since then, Oracle has quietly joined in on the surveillance business, managing to avoid the bad reps that Google et al have received.
Hence, privacy-conscious web browsing is still enough to ensure protection against this, as it has been against several other sorts of threats online. However, this is in no way a reason to put aside and forget Oracle and the real threat lurking out there: billions of unsuspecting people surfing the internet are still precisely being tracked in live-time and shame is for those who enable such technology to happen. Keep an eye out for other threats like this in the surveillance arms race.
Did you know about Oracle's tracking capacity before news of this lawsuit came forward? How do you prevent it from reaching you? Let me know in Mastodon!
This post is number #35 of my #100DaysToOffload project. Follow my progress through Mastodon!
Last updated on 08/24/22