The future of technology and entertainment is frightening
Spy agencies and governments that grab, steal, hack, manipulate and collect massive amounts of data, bloatware and adware on PCs, massive invasion of privacy on the Internet, TVs and Internet of Things devices that phone home and transfer what you say or do, free to play apps designed for profit and not for the people who play them, the list goes on and on.
I sometimes think that this world has taken a wrong turn in the past decade or so with all the unpleasant things that are going on right now in the technology sector alone.
Just in the last week alone, it became known that Lenovo shipped adware with consumer PCs, that spy agencies manipulated hard drive firmware and stole SIM card encryption keys, that you can now be tracked through your phone's battery, and that cable networks speed up shows to show you more ads.
Each week, there are new revelations how we, and with we I mean the public, are being spied on, tracked, and manipulated in various ways.
One example: bloatware, that is pre-installed trial software and desktop shortcuts pointing to online retailers have been part of most Windows PCs for a long time.
When you buy a PC, the chance is good that it ships with programs and other things you don't need. Manufacturers make much of the money they earn from these PCs from third-party offerings they add to the systems.
Most PCs that come with this adware are slower than they would be without these installations and this reflects negatively not only on the manufacturer of the PC but also Microsoft and its Windows operating system.
Some manufacturers came up with the ingenious idea to charge you for the removal of the programs that they installed on them in the first place.
For Lenovo, bloatware did not seem to cut it anymore which is why the company shipped Superfish, an adware program running in the background, with some of its consumer PCs.
Spying and tracking
Every Snowden leak reveals additional terrifying news about the NSA's (and sister organizations like the British GCHQ) global spying program. Hacked hard drive firmwares that are impossible to detect for end users and eve the majority of businesses make every computer with a hard drive a potential security risk.
The hack of the world's largest SIM card manufacturer puts anyone with a smartphone at risk too as it allows spy agencies to decode data that passes between mobile phones and cell towers.
It seems there is barely anyone or anything that you can trust anymore when it comes to devices and software, and the companies and manufacturers that produce them.
On top of all that, there are the spy agencies that reduce the chance of making sure you are not spied on, tracked or manipulated further.
Even if you bought a Microsoft Signature Edition in the Microsoft Store for example, those come without third-party software installations and bloatware, you cannot be certain that some spy agency did not intercept the package, modify the firmware of the device or plant some other tracking stuff on it that you cannot detect, before it got to you.
I have to admit that the chance is quite low that this is the case, and from the reports it seems that these firmware hacks were used in targeted attacks.
As far as entertainment is concerned, there is a large push towards additional revenue generation which you can see most clearly in the games industry.
While there are still full-price computer games out there, many of those come with options to purchase DLC, downloadable contents as well as premium editions. That's not necessarily a bad thing on first glance but the system is being abused by some companies already.
You may need to purchase DLC to get the full game experience for example, and some games only ship with all of their contents if you buy a premium edition.
There is also a large push towards free to play games, especially in the mobile sector.
Many of these games are designed for maximum profits and not to provide gamers with an enjoyable gaming experience. This is done through various mechanics, for instance by adding timers to various activities in the game. You can either wait for an action to complete, e.g. build something, or pay to speed the process up.
There have been cases in the past where a single action took more than 24 hours to complete. So instead of enjoying the game, you would start it up once every day, select a new action for the day and close it down again as you were not able to do anything else afterwards.
Some say that this is just the beginning, that things will get a lot worse before they may get better again. The Internet of Things is just beginning to invade homes worldwide which gives companies great new options to track and manipulate people.
Some will certainly display ads to you on Internet connected devices such as fridges, microwaves or home automation devices, and since all of these things are connected, it gives spy agencies even more options to spy on you.
Now you: What can be done about some or all of this?Advertisement