... then inject yourself with a deadly cocktail (since the Swiss law doesn't allow the clinic staff to actively partake in the process). With trips and accommodation, you've just paid a five-figure sum to overdose in a crappy motel room. Admittedly, this is an improvement: Before 2009, when Dignitas couldn't find suitable premises (they're not a popular neighbor), they were forced to operate out of actual hotel rooms, which was so depressing that some customers opted to die in their own cars.
If that sounds decidedly inglamorous, well ... that's kind of the point. Dignitas does know what it's doing. The whole process is designed to weed out whim suicides. Whether you regard it as a simple money-making machine or an organization genuinely interested in helping people, the people flocking to the place couldn't care less. Between 1998 and 2014 alone, Dignitas assisted a total of 273 UK citizens and 920 Germans on their final journeys.
You Could Collect Massive Amounts Of Information On People And Then Sell It To The Highest Bidder
You know your online data is being sold, but that, by necessity, means someone is actively selling it. We don't stop to consider that part. They're called data brokers, and data is what they ... broke. Everything they can get a hold of, from your online activities and traceable financial transactions to phone records, government information, and even medical files. Sometimes they just straight-up buy it from companies you've been dealing with. Sometimes they're less straightforward: Before the internet, they sneakily went through peoples' magazine subscriptions and public records, quietly ticking boxes. "What kind of car do they drive? How many pet tarantulas do they have? Would they notice if we fed them one when they're asleep?"
As technology marched on, the categories they put us into became far more specific. The largest broker, Acxiom, boasts "Over 3,000 propensities for nearly every U.S. consumer." And that's just the one company. It's fair to assume that pretty much everyone's out there in some data broker's files, neatly arranged in folders by any metric you can think of. Data Broker company MEDbase 200 retails freaking lists of rape victims, at 7.9 cents per name.
Way back in 2007, a data broker company named infoUSA peddled huge lists of elderly people, ranging from "Opportunity seekers" to "Suffering seniors" (people dealing with serious illnesses) to "Oldies but goodies" (gamblers over 55). The names should've clued you in that these lists did not have the best intentions. They were specifically designed for telemarketers and fraudsters. One flat-out said: "These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change."
If you suddenly get a discount coupon from a diaper company, that's because a data broker sold your diaper fetish. Or maybe you have a baby. We're not here to judge. If that ad for Viagra seemed to arrive a little too conveniently, well ...
"If you want to bone, you also gotta get boned."
In 2011, a subsidiary of data broker / credit monitoring giant Experian unwittingly sold the personal information of an estimated 200 million Americans -- Social Security numbers and all -- to a Vietnamese man, who then resold the information to over a thousand cybercriminals all over the world. The information was accessed over three million times, and Experian didn't even notice until the Secret Service tactfully nudged them and pointed out the situation.
As for the accountability of data brokers, well, there's basically none. Although the industry does have (voluntary) guidelines on how their information is used, and some companies like Acxiom give you the chance to opt out of their marketing products and request certain reports about yourself, they don't really seem to give a shit about government officials. The Federal Trade Commission, which is supposed to watch this kind of thing, freely admits that they have no idea how many data brokers even exist. When a Senate committee investigated the industry in 2013 and asked the biggest data broker companies to disclose their sources and clients, the brokers presumably pointed out exactly what kinds of lists the good Senators themselves were on, because absolutely nothing came of it.
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