Remember the names Arnoud Boot, Peter Hoffmann, Luc Laeven, Lev Ratnovski, as signatories to the death of all privacy and the opening of universal surveillance in all commercial and financial dealings.

Under the remarkably anodyne title "What is Really New in Fintech" and published by the International Monetary Fund blog, these four men proposed that credit ratings be improved by "tapping various nonfinancial data: the type of browser and hardware used to access the internet, the history of online searches and purchases".

Everything you do online, transferred to, assessed, rated, and stored permanently, one would suspect, by that most highly egalitarian and trusted of all institutions, the global financial system.

Arnoud Boot is professor of Corporate Fiance and Financial Markets at the , in the country whose census records were used during WWII to prosecute the Holocaust on the Netherland's Jewish population. Of 107,000 deported Jews, only 5,200 survived.

Peter Hoffman is an economist working at the Financial Research Division of the (), researching microstructure of financial markets, but apparently neither ethics nor privacy and surveillance.

Luc Laeven is Director-General of the Directorate General Research of the , and previously worked with the , , and .

Lev Ratnovski is Sr. Econoist at the 's research department.

These men would sell your entire informational history to gain a few fractions of a percent of interest income.

The banality of evil indeed.

Related to the IMF's Death to Privacy proposal, I'm looking for classic questions concerning technology.

There's a set of these from Neal Postman:

  1. “What is the problem to which this technology is the solution?” [3]
  2. “Whose problem is it?” [4]
  3. “Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological solution?” [5]
  4. “What new problems might be created because we have solved this problem?” [6]
  5. “What sort of people and institutions might acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?” [7]
  6. “What changes in language are being enforced by new technologies, and what is being gained and lost by such changes?” [8]


There's another set from Michael & Joyce Heusemann's Techno-Fix, I think, though the idiot reviewer didn't think to include them in this article:

(Joke: I wrote that.)

And a few others though I'm blanking.

There's exceptionally little coverage of this in anything remotely like mainstream press, though the Register's Simon Sharwood managed to run an item on 18 December 2020:

Your web search history plus records of the browser and device you use to make those searches could enable financial institutions to calculate you a more accurate credit rating than traditional methods, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And the global finance organisation says the ability to use those records might be a good thing rather than a privacy nightmare.

And asking the obvious:

What could possibly go wrong with Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba using AI and your browser records to facilitate offers from third-party financial services? Thankfully, the authors can find plenty of potential pitfalls, including security worries, changes in lending behaviour that challenge prudential regulation regimes, and the potential for new players to weaken banks and by doing so undermine the role they play in the wider financial system.

... And the FinTech online-history credit-scoring Orwellian / Stasi bit comes from here:

"On the Rise of FinTechs --- Credit Scoring using Digital Footprints"
Tobias Berg, Valentin Burg, Ana Gombović, Manju Puri
July 2018i

Abstract: We analyze the information content of the digital footprint –information that people leave online simply by accessing or registering on a website –for predicting consumer default. Using more than 250,000 observations, we show that even simple, easily accessible variables from the digital footprint equal or exceed the information content of credit bureau scores. Furthermore, thediscriminatory power for unscorable customers is very similarto that of scorable customers. Our results have potentially wide implications for financial intermediaries’ business models, for access to credit for the unbanked, and for the behavior of consumers, firms, and regulatorsin the digital sphere.

I don't see the death to all privacy coming soon, but I do see a death to centralized finance.

@dredmorbius @cjd those with power always try to grab more of it, and by definition are in a better position to do so than those trying to stop them, which tends to mean that every time a tech is made to scale up better, its subject matter becomes more centralized

if something could come up that suddenly makes everything far *less* efficient i can see how that could kill centralized finance

i don't see anything in the works that's like that

@carcinopithecus And most technologies and information-disclosure obligations are power multipliers, hence amplifiers of inequality and inequity.


@carcinopithecus No matter what Hal Finney might have asserted, without evidence, in 1992 on the Cypherpunks list.


Here's another way to look at it:
We need this to be true, we need to decentralize finance to work, and to work for everyone, because the alternative is being eaten alive by the too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-regulate hedgefund cowboys.

@dredmorbius the way they say "unbanked" immediately reminded me of Rev. 13:16-17

@dredmorbius It's terrifying and totalitarian when the Chinese do it, common business sense when we do it.

@clacke The relevance between this and my Author At Whom I Must Scream Incessently's book is ... quite strong.


The book "Weapons of Math Destruction" comes to mind here.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

On the internet, everyone knows you're a cat — and that's totally okay.