The relationship of many western consumers to the internet giants is much like that which Václav Havel described for citizens living under the Soviet empire
The business model of the internet,” writes the security expert Bruce Schneier in his excellent new book Data and Goliath, “is surveillance.” States engage in it for their own inscrutable purposes and – as we know from Edward Snowden – they do it on a colossal scale. But the giant internet companies do it too, on an equally large scale. The only difference is that they claim that they do it with our consent, whereas the state doesn’t really bother with that.
A big mystery for those of us who worry about the long-term implications of surveillance is why internet users seem generally to be unconcerned about this. It varies from culture to culture, of course: the citizens of Germany are more perturbed about it than are the British; but that’s understandable because large numbers of Germans had the experience of living under the analogue surveillance run by the Stasi. And in the US, endemic suspicion of the federal government keeps some people awake at night. But on the whole, across the world, internet users seem relatively unfazed by what’s going on.