What’s the problem?
For millions of people around the world, near constant surveillance and rights abuses are a daily occurrence. But we’re not talking about ‘somewhere’ or ‘someone’ else. We’re talking about you; everyone using certain platforms and technologies, everyday.
“The Big Tech monopolies have conned us into giving “consent” to grow their vast empires of personal data extraction and surveillance,” explains People vs Big Tech.
This is a surveillance-for-profit business model that gives us no choice but to hand over our data in exchange for simply using a platform. It is now considered ‘normal’ that platforms should get to know every little thing about us, from our date of birth, to our private health information to how much our household income is
of people are worried about how tech companies collect and use their personal data
Once we’re signed up, predatory and addictive algorithms are purposefully designed to keep us clicking and scrolling, even as they are spreading hate, lies and impacting our mental health (we’re looking at you, Meta).
All around us algorithms are deciding what we see, from what appears on page one of search, to prioritising content that gets more engagement. These algorithms are subtly following us around the internet, harvesting personal information, invading our privacy and trying to influence our behaviours.
All of this helps ‘Big Tech’ make profits from us and our data, and erodes our right to a private life.
About People Vs Big Tech
People Vs Big Tech (PvBT) is a global movement fighting for a different kind of Internet – one free from intrusive surveillance, addiction-algorithms, harmful content and echo chambers. For too long a small handful of tech CEOs have been allowed to trample on our rights and disrupt our communities, unleashing industrial-scale disinformation, driving hate and polarisation and preying on our vulnerabilities – all to keep us clicking and scrolling while they profit from our data.
With over 100 organisations, representing more than 71 million citizens, People vs Big Tech is taking on their outsized power, channelling public outrage into concrete action for change and helping secure groundbreaking victories, like sweeping new tech laws in Europe.
want legislation that protects the safety of users online
What is Big Tech?
Big Tech is becoming a pretty common phrase, but who or what is it?
In simple terms, it’s used as an umbrella to reference the largest, most influential, most dominant, and most profitable tech companies. These are Google (Alphabet), Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft.
A report by Amnesty International revealed that 71% of people were worried about how tech companies collect and use their personal data.
Lush’s 2023 report conducted with The Future Laboratory backed this up, discovering that 65% don’t want social media brands to use their data for commercial benefit, and a huge 70% are calling for global legislation that protects the safety of users online.
What can I do?
In the tech world, things advance rapidly.
The potential for a unified, borderless, and transparent digital world is not beyond our reach. New legislation is being written and passed in countries around the world, trying to ensure we, the people, are better protected.
With the newly passed Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rein in the Big Tech companies in Europe, the voice of citizens in ensuring strong enforcement of the law has never been more important.
And individuals, groups, and businesses are joining forces to embrace the opportunities a digital world presents, as well as highlight the risks.
“For years, a handful of tech billionaires have been running the internet like a bunch of feudal kings, harvesting and profiting from our data while their platforms wreak havoc on everything from mental health to democracy. But an amazing generation of young leaders are rising up and fighting back, united by a vision for a better online world — where children are protected from deliberately addictive apps, where we can go online and trust what we’ll see in our feeds, where we can learn, explore and connect with loved ones without being relentlessly spied on. That’s why we’re so excited to be teaming up with Lush for the Big Tech Rebellion, which will help channel vital funds into this burgeoning youth movement, supercharging their campaigns and helping take their message directly to those who hold the power to change the system,” – People vs Big Tech.
You can take action, too. You can sign the The People’s Declaration where your voice will join an open network of civil society organisations and concerned citizens working together to challenge the power and abuses of Big Tech.
The time for change is now.
We, the people of Europe, demand technology that serves us, instead of putting us, our communities and our democracies at risk.
We call for an end to Big Tech’s destructive business model which has turned our own data into weapons against us.
We demand a better internet, where citizens are able to access vital infrastructure and information, and thrive off connection and participation, without being reduced to products in an insidious surveillance economy.
We call for a world in which no small group of billionaires can tweak an algorithm and change the fate of billions without constraints or fear of consequence.
We urge all those involved in scrutinising, passing, and enforcing legislation in Europe to stand on the side of the people you represent and take all necessary measures to rein in Big Tech’s abuses whilst defending people’s fundamental rights, critically – the right to free speech for all.
We remind you that your job is to protect us, the people, and not the profits of massive tech companies operating with impunity within our borders.
Legislation and regulation must:
Big Tech’s toxic recommender systems and algorithms are amplifying hate speech and disinformation – weaponizing every societal fault line with relentless surveillance to maximise “engagement”. These systemic risks are created not just by external actors but are a feature of an unconscionable, unethical business model. It is time for these platforms to de-risk their design, detox their algorithms, give users real control over them and be held to account for failing to do so.
We’ve been conned into giving “consent” for surveillance. We were never given a meaningful choice. The Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) must put an end to surveillance advertising that people never asked for. The use of digital services cannot be conditional on acceptance of surveillance and profiling. In addition, we demand transparency on all aspects of online ads and enforcement of our data rights to make them a reality.
Big Tech cannot continue to call the shots as judge and jury. The DSA must create stronger powers for regulators to hold Big Tech to account, including through robust audit powers that cannot simply be gamed by the companies. Europe must not allow a repeat of the failures of enforcement as seen with the GDPR.
Our organisations represent over 71,872,881 citizens across the EU. Today, we send a united message: we the people will no longer tolerate this relentless corporate assault on our lives and our liberty. We expect and demand that our elected representatives will stand with us.
citizens are already part of the collective
Why is Lush getting involved?
At Lush we can’t keep quiet about the things we care about.
“We’ve been campaigning for human rights for over 25 years, and we believe that digital rights are human rights. We will always stand up alongside grassroots groups calling for action and actively campaigning for reform,” explains Lush’s Chief Digital Officer, Jack Constantine. “We want to ensure that any space you find Lush in – be that on the high street or online – is an oasis of kindness. At the moment that’s not what you find on social media and Big Tech platforms.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with People vs Big Tech this Black Friday, as we feel it’s now time for us to be more active in campaigning for legislative change and reform to level the playing field and take back some of the control that the Big Tech companies have.”
On Black Friday 2023, Lush launched a limited edition bath bomb, The Cloud. 100% of the sales price of the product, minus government taxes, will go to our partner, People vs Big Tech.
And when Lush customers buy this product, not only will they get a Black Rose infused bathtime, they’ll also bathe in the knowledge that their purchase is helping take back CTRL from Big Tech.
What the Zuck are you waiting for?
What else is Lush doing?
- We’re putting our money where our mouth is – divesting away from Big Tech where possible.
- We’re evolving – On Black Friday 2021, we turned our back on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok until these platforms took action to provide a safer environment for users. A lot has happened since then. See our Anti-Social Media Policy.
- We’re campaigning – From fighting internet shutdowns, to raising awareness of mental health impacts of social media, we’ve been campaigning for digital rights for nearly a decade. Find out how.
- We’re researching – Together with The Future Laboratory, we interviewed five leading tech experts and surveyed 12,000 consumers to understand the future of digital engagement. Discover our findings.
- We’re creating our own sustainable tech – After five years in the making, we’ve launched our ‘digital bath bomb’ – Bath Bot – designed to transform bath time with an explosion of colour and 180-degree sound. Manufactured in the UK, Bath Bot is vegan and waterproof without the use of animal-derived glue. Find out more and pre-order.