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AmazonBasics private label products on the shelves at Go in Seattle. Photos: Erica Pandey/Axios

Alarm bells are going off in the U.S. and Europe over Big Tech's invasion of our privacy. The companies are betting hard on one thing: That consumers — especially younger ones — won't care too much what you know about them as long as you give them really cool stuff.

I would know — I'm one of them.

The big picture: Per a February survey by IBM's Institute for Business Value, 71% of consumers say it's worth sacrificing privacy for the benefits of technology.

  • A whopping 81% say they're concerned about how their data is being used, but only 45% have actually updated privacy settings on an app or account in the last year and a measly 16% have stopped using a tech company's service because of data misuse.
  • According to an Axios poll, 46% of consumers ages 18–24 say they always accept companies' privacy policies without reading a single word. Only 15% of those over 65 say they do the same.

Why it matters: This is why surveillance capitalism has boomed. I, like scores of others, have decided that I'm OK with giving up personal data in order to keep getting convenient, cheap (or free) services. Despite the known episodes of firms misusing data, the ease and quality of life under the reign of Big Tech generally seems worth it.

  • On top of that, despite the public techlash, many of the companies at the pinnacle of data capitalism — Amazon, Microsoft and Google — are among the most trusted institutions in the country. Part of the gamble is that many consumers believe companies won't do anything untoward with their personal information.

Shoshana Zuboff's new book on this new economy — “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” — misses this, author Nicholas Carr wrote in the LA Review of Books:

"Many people, it seems clear, experience surveillance capitalism less as a prison, where their agency is restricted in a noxious way, than as an all-inclusive resort, where their agency is restricted in a pleasing way. Zuboff makes a convincing case that this is a short-sighted and dangerous view — that the bargain we've struck with the internet giants is a Faustian one — but her case would have been stronger still had she more fully addressed the benefits side of the ledger."

For example, two weeks ago, while in Seattle, I visited my first Amazon Go store. The small, seemingly harmless shop's capabilities for snooping are immense.

  • It knows I picked up a soda, thought about buying it, but decided not to. And Amazon can later feed me ads for soda, or come out with its own, lower-calorie Amazon soda for me and others like me.
  • It knows exactly how I moved about the store, what items I bought together and when I bought them. Amazon can use my walking patterns, along with those of hundreds of thousands of others, to better design its store and aisles and sell more stuff.
  • This kind of data is not unlike what every other retailer collects. But Amazon can combine Go insights with all of its pre-existing data about my online shopping, watching and listening habits through Amazon Prime and Alexa to create an even fuller picture of me.

But when it comes to Go — or Instagram following what I'm "liking" to point me to clothes I'll buy or Uber tracking where I'm going and what I'm ordering — I just don't care what the company knows. As one millennial friend put it, "Take my data; give me free shit.“

Go deeper

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.