American households represent untapped information that government wants to grow, harvest, and exploit. Local, state, and federal governments have data on your birth, your matriculation through school, your educational status, your income, your health records, your marital status, the schools your children attend, the value of your properties, your driving records, your financial records, the number of court appearances you have made, your bankruptcies, your foreclosures, etc.
Why does government collect this information? For one thing, personal information in the hands of the government, no matter the level of government, is a money make for their coffers. Hiding behind the adage of “public information” and “transparent government”, the monopolist of force, the State, sells information in their databases, arguing that it is okay to do so because no profit is being made; only the costs of providing the information is covered.
Ever wonder why, as a small business owner. you are getting junk mail from so many vendors, none of whom you have any relationship with?
And even public colleges get into the data trade by selling student information to meal plan providers or storage companies.
Government also requests or purchases data from hundreds of private corporations, some of whom you already know (Google, Facebook); other vendors you may never hear about.
But if you think of information or data as another piece of natural capital like land or spectrum, then, given the current Democracy-Mafia model of the State where it exercises jurisdiction over all of this nation-state’s natural resources, it should be no surprise that the State, under the guise of a free market, capitalist model, has turned over some of its data mining duties to private data miners. Some of these miners are virtually unregulated, i.e. Google, while the net neutrality posse would like to see broadband access providers heavily regulated.
Equity, something the net neutrality posse is afraid of applying, should require all data miners, whether Facebook, Google, Comcast, or AT&T, be regulated under a single regulatory framework. I, of course, prefer none of these entities be regulated at all, especially where households give up data voluntarily in exchange for value.
I know. I know. That type of exchange is not happening in all instances, but I’ll leave that discussion for another time. Bottom line, corporations conduct extraction of information more efficiently than government on government’s behalf. They should all, no matter whether to serve the core or the edge of the internet, enjoy regulatory slack.