Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Surveillance Capitalism Comes to the Dole.

with 53 comments

Image result for surveillance capitalism panopticon


I, and many other people ,have got interested in Surveillance Capitalism recently.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power Professor Shoshana Zuboff

It’s a book, a bloody long one,  about “the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control us.”

She says,  “human experience is subjected to surveillance capitalism’s market mechanisms and reborn as ‘behaviour”.

It seems people are very willing to give up their private information in return for perceived benefits such as ease of use, navigation and access to friends and information. Zuboff recasts the conversation around privacy as one over “decision rights”: the agency we can actively assert over our own futures, which is fundamentally usurped by predictive, data-driven systems. Engaging with the systems of surveillance capitalism, and acquiescing to its demands for ever deeper incursions into everyday life, involves much more than the surrender of information: it is to place the entire track of one’s life, the determination of ones path, under the purview and control of the market.


Universal Credit, which we do not even ‘buy’ is a much more complex version.

It’s modelled on it.

We have to fill in all our details, and personal problems, not to mention physical difficulties if we want Disability Allowances.

In return they watch our search for work like hawks.

On-line journals and the rest.

Not to mention the threat of sanctions.

The next stage is coming.

The UK government is accelerating the development of robots in the benefits system in a digitisation drive that vulnerable claimants fear could plunge them further into hunger and debt, the Guardian has learned.

The Department for Work and Pensions has hired nearly 1,000 new IT staff in the past 18 months, and has increased spending to about £8m a year on a specialist “intelligent automation garage” where computer scientists are developing over 100 welfare robots, deep learning and intelligent automation for use in the welfare system.

As well as contracts with the outsourcing multinationals IBM, Tata Consultancy and CapGemini, it is also working with UiPath, a New York-based firm co-founded by Daniel Dines, the world’s first “bot billionaire” who last month said: “I want a robot for every person.” His software, used by Walmart and Toyota, is now being deployed in a bid to introduce machine learning into checking benefit claims.

Note this,

The DWP is also testing artificial intelligence to judge the likelihood that citizens’ claims about their childcare and housing costs are true when they apply for benefits.

It has deployed 16 bots to communicate with claimants and help process claims and is building a “virtual workforce” to take over some of the jobs of humans. One recent tender document requested help to build “systems that … can autonomously carry out tasks without human intervention”.

The developments emerged during a Guardian investigation into one of the most radical but least understood welfare reforms since the roll-out of universal credit that will apply to 7 million people.

And this,

But claimants have warned the existing automation in UC’s “digital by default” system has already driven some to hunger, breakdown and even attempted suicide. One described the online process as a “Kafka-like carousel”, another as “hostile” and yet another as a “form of torture”. Several said civil servants already appeared to be ruled by computer algorithms, unable to contradict their verdicts.


Key details about the automation push remain secret. The DWP has refused freedom of information requests to explain how it gathers data on citizens. Simon McKinnon, the chief digital and information officer of DWP Digital, said this year it was developing a way to “build a holistic understanding of digital personas”, but refused to say what information was gathered to do this.

The ministry has previously told parliament it gathers data from private credit reference agencies, the police, the Valuation Office Agency, the Land Registry and the National Fraud Initiative, which gather information from public and private bodies. But it is now declining to update the list, claiming it would “compromise the usefulness of that data”.

“There are concerns that government is accelerating the automation of the welfare system without a proper evidence-based consultation about its impacts,” said Dr Lina Dencik, co-founder of the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff.


Staff are using UiPath to develop machine learning to check claims for fraud, which suggests welfare computers will autonomously learn and alter the way they make decisions with minimum human intervention.

One recent staff member at Newcastle told the Guardian they already “have ways of creating a digital image of somebody”. He stressed much of the work was secret, but said this did not mean it was against citizens’ interests.

The digital transformation is costing hundreds of millions of pounds. The DWP Digital’s budget has risen 17% to £1.1bn in the past year and IT firms have been awarded huge contracts to help run the system. The DWP is also rapidly expanding its own private technology company Benefits and Pensions Digital Technology Services, which recruited more than 400 staff in the year to April, while DWP Digital recruited 520.

I bet this is just the beginning of an almighty row.

Then there is this:

Down with Machine Rule!

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2019 at 12:16 pm

53 Responses

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  1. Andrew

    You mention: “In return they watch our search for work like hawks.” and “On-line journals and the rest.”

    Claimants do not have to use online journals, at least not yet, as far as I know, anyway. It’s up to the individual as to whether they have using online journals such as the UC journal put on to their CC or not.

    This cannot be stressed enough!


    jj joop

    October 14, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    • JJ you have done excellent work in establishing this.

      I keep saying this to people, but many, many, have the impression they they have to.

      Andrew Coates

      October 14, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      • It’s the default approach in the Jobcentre. That you have to do whatever they say. And often it works, and the Work Coaches are able to refer people to training etc. that is really voluntary.

        Jeff Smith

        October 15, 2019 at 10:24 am

    • Claimants need to learn to ask whether everything they are asked to do by Work Coaches is voluntary or mandatory and if/when they are voluntary to man/woman up and refuse them. I refused to use my Journal to record my job-seeking activities and do so on paper without any penalty. (Who the heck in their right senses would want to diarise such things in a way which forbids entries from being edited and/or deleted, with personal data submitted stored indefinitely, somewhere, in a remote database, viewable by anybody and accessible by any system given the right permissions?)

      Recording information in the UC Journal is currently voluntary and cannot be forced.

      Of course once we leave the EU, well, then who knows?


      October 14, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      • the only things you need tell the dwp to claim benefits is.
        ni number
        bank account

        anything else is personnel data and need your permission to keep it on there system.

        tho they can mandate you to show them you have a cv ect but they cant keep it on there system.

        this is a sar and note the coaches are being told to get this information so dont give it to them in the first place.


        October 14, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      • Claimants need to learn to ask whether everything they are asked to do by Work Coaches is voluntary or mandatory

        This this should be a blog post in itself.

        And if you ask, they will say something like: “It is voluntary at the moment but if you don’t do it I will give you a jobseeker’s direction”. Call their bluff. They can’t give you a direction because it is voluntary. Jobseekers are being railroaded into all kinds of crap. Putting their benefits at risk. They just never think to ask: “Is it voluntary or mandatory?”


        October 14, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      • what most dont realise is once you sign a providers contract they are then able to sanction you and you are pretty much under there control as you signed a contract with a 3rd party company for profit.

        you can fail to turn up on time to a work placement ect and the provider can still sanction you and you will still have to attend even tho you have no money.

        the provider is paid either way so dont sign there paperwork in the first place.


        October 14, 2019 at 9:48 pm

      • There was provider contracts posted on here not long ago. Shockingly they stated that the provider could stop your money. Without even going through the jobcentre. Why sign these contracts with bastards in the first place and put your money at risk?


        October 15, 2019 at 12:02 am

    • Thats right jj joop, you dont BUT claimants none the less need to prepare as face to face encounters will depart as governments dont do feelings.

      Already claimants should be FOI ing to find out exactly what DWP intend to do with a claimants jobsearch entries and how much control the data subject (ie you) have over their processing.
      Your jobsearch is tide to your account so in the first instance its rightly classified as personal.
      Yet during any ready of the data policy each piece of data taken is spoken of generically meaning in the case of a jobsearch rights of the data subject are not covered.

      Claimants should be informed of when for the process of said data is used to verify your eligibility to receive benefit payments, so after the data subject can withdraw consent purely for jobsearch evidence which in turn legally forces the DWP to delete it of servers and any backup (also means they can no longer legally process it for any purpose even if they did retain it).
      Given data to a third party is still considered an act of processing under the GDPR.

      With all due respect the vast majority of claimants sit on their hands expecting others to crusade for them so are often the cause of their own down fall.


      October 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm

      • where u been doug thought u was dead pmsl the jcp dont wanna play with me anymore even the last work coach has abandoned me again and went to work in another office.


        October 15, 2019 at 6:55 pm

  2. I am sure, that using your UC journal, entries are removed.


    October 14, 2019 at 12:54 pm

  3. This was 2017 DWP last one off update Frank Field questions Lord Freud on Universal Credit and the IT systems none who attended have ever mentioned the issues including the fact that the IT system and UC have never worked and would never work didn’t work in the original trials but were still rolled out and much more https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/6911af5e-eb1c-478e-b3fb-d26b28ab5997#player-tabs

    Liz Douglas

    October 14, 2019 at 1:06 pm

  4. So the NWO has finally come to the joke shop we live in very disturbing times.


    October 14, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    • ..

      HG Wells

      October 14, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    • Morlock

      HG Wells

      October 14, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    • ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’. How ironic on a blog complaining about the ills of ‘surveillance capitalism’ 😉

      HG Wells

      October 14, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      • Did you mention a certain religion.
        That got my post here lined up for moderation then deleted…


        October 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm

      • Universal credit ‘leaving families depressed’ in poorest London borough

        Parents in Tower Hamlets tell study that squeeze on income is causing conflict and stress

        Low-income families in London’s poorest borough say that moving on to universal credit has left them financially worse off, caused parental conflict, stress, and feelings of guilt at not being able to provide for their children, according to a study.



        October 16, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      • You are welcome to set up your own Tommy Blog for Gammons.

        Here the only gammon we like comes on a plate with potatoes and pees.

        Andrew Coates

        October 16, 2019 at 4:35 pm

      • To Ken, there is more information here:

        Andrew Coates

        October 16, 2019 at 4:36 pm

  5. Peeps complain being run over at pedestrian crossing by a takeaway delivery rider. But what they don’t know if that pizza is not delivered withing a specific timescale the rider will be ‘de-platformed’. The same goes for parcel delivery drivers etc. Welcome to the gig economy.

    Onion Rings

    October 14, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    • This is why they throw parcels over the wall, and then frantically run back to the van. Two hours left, and 200 parcels to do.


      October 14, 2019 at 6:06 pm

  6. This can only end in tears. There was a private company called Concentrix, American I believe, that the government hired to detect benefit fraud using algorithmic IT systems which made so many errors and mistakes it ended up having its contract cancelled, but not before causing thousands of innocent people great difficulty and misery. I remember particularly ridiculous case where a lady was living in a flat above a shop which happened to share her surname and was accused by the system of cohabiting, i.e., her entitlements were stopped because the computer decided that she was living with a husband which actually was a shop!


    This approach crashed and burned before and it will again because no knowledge-based software is sensitive enough to be able to accurately sort the innocent from the guilty and most times lumps huge numbers of innocent people in with relatively few real fraudsters wrecking lives and leaving people without support, while their case is considered, for weeks or months at a time.

    David Cameron started this crap when he became Prime Minister in 2010 when he set the wheels in motion to find whether benefit claimants had expensive TV subscriptions, owned big cars, had been abroad on foreign holidays etc., indicating a lifestyle not commensurate with the monies they supposedly had to live on.

    That scheme crashed and burned too because only an infinitesimal number of claimants behaved like that!


    October 14, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    • Leaving the EU could open up many issues from data to warrenties.If Brexit goes ahead the amount of changes needed to travel also,so much for the red tape claims.


      October 14, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      • Could
        Yeah unless we grow a pair.


        October 15, 2019 at 1:43 pm

  7. I suppose the Work Coach androids will look like a Terminator ? Massive metal bodies…fierce red eyes. Just waiting to intimidate the claimant.Then try telling it that you haven’t done 35 hours jobsearch ! Benefit Violation ! You are terminated !!

    Dan Dare

    October 14, 2019 at 6:02 pm

  8. One day the Department of Work & Pensions will have to start dealing with reality, and not ideology.

    Alan Turner

    October 14, 2019 at 8:33 pm

  9. Greetings Andrew, from the Inner Council. We are one beneath the Eye of Wisdom.

    Inner Council

    October 14, 2019 at 8:35 pm

  10. Legal expert reveals best ways to beat DWP’s Universal Credit sanctions

    Thousands have been hit by ‘unfair’ sanctions on their benefits


    Cambridgeshire’s food crisis: Thousands of children and adults ‘simply cannot afford to eat’

    Food bank usage has skyrocketed to a record high


    Enough is enough: Record numbers turn to food banks to feed their children

    The Trussel Trust, who run hundreds of food banks across the UK, have released some shocking figures regarding their use in Lancashire.


    The negativity of this benefit and harsh reality of life under the Conservative party.


    October 14, 2019 at 10:32 pm

  11. In the end, when everything is fully automated, it will be unemployed androids talking to android Work Coaches.

    Tom Sutton

    October 15, 2019 at 10:27 am

  12. Good thread, but what’s capitalism got to do with the DWPs universal credit personal info grab?


    October 15, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    • The model and business plan comes from profit making companies, the Universal Credit scheme is this,

      ” the outsourcing multinationals IBM, Tata Consultancy and CapGemini, it is also working with UiPath, a New York-based firm co-founded by Daniel Dines, the world’s first “bot billionaire” who last month said: “I want a robot for every person.” His software, used by Walmart and Toyota, is now being deployed in a bid to introduce machine learning into checking benefit claims.”

      Andrew Coates

      October 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      • The Mirror today,

        “Many of the DWP’s robotics and AI developments come from a so-called ‘Intelligent Automation Garage’ which was set up in 2017 and has cost more than £7m.

        The DWP boasted that such ‘intelligent automation’ saved 42,000 human hours in the processing of fitness-for-work notes, and 22 minutes per bundle on PIP appeals.

        Part of the work involves using private New York-based firm UiPath, whose chief executive Daniel Dines said last month: “I want a robot for every person”.

        UiPath boasts its work has already saved millions of pounds each year, including using 12 robots to clear a backlog of more than 30,000 pension claims in two weeks.”

        Andrew Coates

        October 15, 2019 at 4:48 pm

  13. It all fits with the Work Coaches role as a Social Worker. Perhaps it will help with the DWP Deaths to push it to 200,000.

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    October 15, 2019 at 5:57 pm

  14. If the unemployed think they have it worse, try being employed on UC.

    If it isnt bad enough coming out of a job to sign up for the first time only to be told if you do it before youve received your final pay that its not only 5 weeks but another 4 because your pay cancels it out, try asking why when your receiving zero benefits are they still demanding you sign another commitment and that if you dont you wont receive any further payments that sounds much like closing your claim with actually saying it.
    As soon as you cancel out any payment via taper they ignore you completely.

    If your not receiving any money because its tapered all away, pay taxes ans NI, dont receive any assistance via the journal, what exactly is it DWP/JCP are doing that warrants their right to demand a commitment that offers you absolutely nothing while they can if you do fall out of work and dont report it when they say so, with hold your benefits.

    It technically works out better to close the claim and if you did, open another fresh one without the need to have to explain why your last job ended and thus preventing them from with holding vital monies needed to survive.

    For the working its just a stinking one way con so DWP can have it all their way and screw you


    October 15, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    • Roach wanted me to show her my email and log in to my college course. It isn’t happening – no bloody choice. These roaches really do chance their arm.


      October 15, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    • no bloody chance!


      October 15, 2019 at 7:21 pm

      • it is a different story when you take in a video camera or recording device the first thing they use to hide behind is the gdpr.

        at the end of the day you are in control of your data not them or anyone else if you say no to there demands and they try a sanction over it they will loose as cant have it both ways.


        October 15, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    • Many will have noticed that Doug that problem’s are with those in part time work and related to HMRC also.There is some very good articles above including this one made worse by a disability not understanding what has happened.Universal Credit hasn’t simplified the welfare system and when there are problems’ that can take an unknown time to resolve made worse as by the jounal because a claimAnt cannot know when and if a query will bee seen let alone delt with.I found it confusing looking at it on JSA and don’t have a clue myself.


      Those at the receiving end.

      Two-thirds of Brits believe poverty has got worse in the last five years

      he Trussell Trust and YouGov survey is a “call to action to end the need for foodbanks”


      The fairest society in my opinion is getting people into paid work and off state reliance in any form,again for me Universal Credit is highlighting and underpinning an underperforming economy.Theres been hardly anything positively said also refected in the number of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions over the years’.Theres just simply been no stability.Either no one care’s/simply given up,poor governance or simply blaming those relying on the state that one can go on.The demands in the workplace have incresed with more ability demanded from applicants’ and higher expectations’ also of those in employment.



      October 15, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    • Surely your final months pay is your month in arrears? i.e.you had to work a month before you received your first month’s pay. So it is not extra money. You might need it to pay off the debt you accrued whilst waiting for your first months pay. And what happens if you leave universal credit for another job? You will have no money to live on for another month before you receive your first months pay. Oh, what a shower of shite the DWP are.


      October 15, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      • Be it work, be it benefits, it always comes in arrears yet DWP take the tact all that matters is, was it paid in any week you had a claim in for benefits.
        They dont care if you have debts, dont care like millions of people working or not that the money goes to cover the previous weeks/months costing.
        DWP without reservation WILL if you are paid within your claim deduct via taper the benefit amount relative.
        Worse still its not on a week to week basis, they calculate it over the entire UC month so if for example you are owed a month (full time) or was in a well paid job for a week, that full amount will be used in the taper which will leave you with no benefit to come. This also includes any repaid owed holiday, pay dispute owed that could be moths or week old, any claimable rebates, basically any money you have been paid.

        Because your always in arrears on UC, that means not ONLY waiting 5 weeks but another 4 on top meaning a working person out of work will receive zero financial assistance, will have to survive on just what they were paid by employer which means if you were working a month in hand so had costing for that previous month to repay that you on a months salary would have to pay and last for a total of around 93 days.

        The KICK in the teeth on top of that is while your struggling to do that, they demand you accept a commitment that puts you in a position where you may even have a further delay of financial help if they decide to sanction you and you have to appeal for a period lasting as long as 6 months if it has to go to tribunal.
        No one should have wages that are in arrears taken as deductible towards benefits and No one should have to accept a commitment or a commitment count for any period where DWP give no financial assistance whats so ever.


        October 16, 2019 at 6:05 am

      • Let’s get this straight doug. You find a job 😀 , start work, you don’t get paid a single shinny penny when you START work. Employers do not pay you for your work ‘up front’. They pay you in arrears after your work is complete. So you work for a month, you are paid, then you are laid off, and you sign on. You are then dis-entitled to benefit payments until your months salary is ‘spent’ at the rate of benefit payments?
        Then you have another five weeks wait until you receive your first benefit payment? That is outrageous!


        October 16, 2019 at 8:32 am

    • doug, your find a job account might not be of great commercial value; but that does not mean that the individual regards it as open to scrutiny. Would you want: the jobcentre knowing that you were job hunting? Your partner know that you visited a dating site? Your vicar/pastor/rabbi/imam/… know that you visited another religion’s web site? We all need privacy, doug, and we should not have to fight the Jobcentre to keep it private.


      October 15, 2019 at 8:15 pm

  15. Most zero-hour jobs will be replaced by automation in the future. So there is a huge potential unemployment problem coming along. Despite Universal Credit.


    October 16, 2019 at 10:32 am

  16. BENEFIT BLOW Universal Credit and benefits to rise by 1.7% next April but families are £580 a year worse off

    PEOPLE on Universal Credit and benefits are to get a 1.7 per cent pay rise next year if a four-year freeze comes to an end – but families will still be £580 a year worse off, warns a charity.

    Welfare payments have lagged behind inflation over the past five years leaving families struggling to cover the cost of rising bills.



    October 16, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    • Thing is by then, especially if we leave the EU and the cost of imports go up, inflation is bound to be more than 1.7% and could very well be a LOT more than that piffling increase. I pray to God that the food banks will be able to cope with ever increasing demand: food bank usage has risen remorselessly ever year since 2010. Bad days ahead I am afraid. The modern Conservative party has neither compassion nor shame it seems.


      October 16, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      • Its people in their 50’s and 60′ Jim and some want to extend into their 70’s being migrated onto Universal Credit and isn’t going to address known barriers’ into work.Foodbanks are going to have to cater for increased age with people having no option.no technology is going to overcome that.You have to wonder if the same people who came up with disability confident came up with ageing confidently.

        Job vacancies drop as Brexit uncertainty bites



        October 16, 2019 at 8:01 pm

  17. Andrew Coates

    October 16, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    • And even when faced with this fact, the DWP try to contradict it. 40% of their own staff on poverty wages, and they couldn’t care less . Typical of the general attitude since Duncan Smith established his new regime.
      Total denial of reality, and carry on regardless.

      Jeff Smith

      October 17, 2019 at 10:07 am

  18. Andrew Coates

    October 17, 2019 at 8:37 am

  19. @Jeff Smith – There is something very military about the Department of Work & Pensions. It’s aggressive and confrontational, to claimants and anyone who disagrees with them . As if they are just looking for an argument all the time. And when they are faced with facts that they don’t like , they just switch over to their usual method, total denial of everything. As if everyone is against them, and they constantly have to fight their corner all the time. This is half the problem with the DWP, these over-aggressive , paranoid attitudes . They know they are wrong, but they will ‘die in a ditch’, to quote the Prime Minister, before they admit it.

    Alan Turner

    October 17, 2019 at 10:27 am

  20. I see the DWP are back on the denials again. Denying the link between poverty and hardship. This would simply be stupid, if it wasn’t so cruel and dangerous. This is raw Conservative right-wing ideology in all its ugly glory.

    Tom Sutton

    October 17, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    • Your right Tom but the DWP are entering schools so the surveillance isn’t just technical.

      DWP extends Jobcentre support for schools programme with £7m funding

      The government will spend a further £7 million helping pupils at risk of falling into unemployment, employing 90 more advisers to work between Jobcentres and schools.

      Coffey said there were “too many young people falling through the gaps”.

      “Early intervention is key to make sure they have the skills and experience needed to get a good job. This funding will support many more schools to help their most at-risk pupils, as well as continuing support for those who need it most long after they leave school.”


      Another blog and more could be opened but the Conservative party have always fueled headlines.Its so bad today its rolling news.

      Unemployment may be three times higher than statistics suggest

      The amount of “hidden” unemployment in the UK means that the number of people out of work could be nearly three times higher than official statistics indicate.

      Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) looked at economic inactivity in British cities and found that in many northern cities, around 20% people could actually be unemployed.


      Anyway I’m signing off.If only it would be as easy at the Jobcentre.


      October 17, 2019 at 6:35 pm

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