Tag Archives: privacy

Surveillance State: What if the Government was a guy with a camera?

The people in this video are justifiably upset because a stranger with a camera is invading their personal space. It is our natural instinct to protect your own little “bubble” – sometime with violence (even if you aren’t doing anything wrong).

I find it strange, however, that we so readily allow the Government full access to our entire lives (email, video, phone records, bank statements, and video) without so much as a whimper. I wonder if we would react similarly (and violently) if all Government surveillance records suddenly became transparent?

Who cares about surveillance?

There are three basic reasons, that I can think of, why we should care about the Government’s mass surveillance program.

  1.  A surveillance infrastructure is already in place for future, potentially corrupted, political administrations.
  2. A mass surveillance program is a diplomatic nightmare. Leads to a loss of trust and bad-will.
  3. A mass surveillance program is against the people’s natural desire for privacy. This creates a natural and negative barrier between the people and government.
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Technology and Privacy Woes

Two weeks ago I deleted my Facebook account.  For two reasons, really.

One, I realized that Facebook made me shallow. It made me okay with not actually communicating. Photos of an old friend’s life served as a convenient substitute for making an effort to pick up the phone. There’s something subtly disgusting and ugly about the whole thing that eventually turned me off enough to close my account.

Secondly, there’s the privacy issues. Everywhere – every application storing some less-than-meaningful aspect of my social interactions with other human beings all eventually adding up to what is my life. All stored on some mega-data-center in Nevada. My data, my identity. Stored, manipulated, washed, dried, mixed, contorted, scanned, compacted, mined, and eventually archived – for purposes that can only be malicious – even if its down the road.

My Andriod smart-phone will not even allow me to permanently delete the Facebook application from my phone. It just stares at me constantly begging me to re-install it. To reinsert myself into the matrix. All in the name of a phony connection that ironically disconnects you.

Then today I started to install the linked-in application on my phone. For fun I decided to read the terms. These are a copy/paste from the terms (bold added by me):

This app has access to these permissions:

– Your accounts
– find accounts on the device
– create accounts and set passwords
– add or remove accounts
– Network communication
– receive data from Internet
– full network access
– view network connections
Your personal information
– read calendar events plus confidential information
– Phone calls
– read phone status and identity
– Storage
modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
– Your social information
– write call log
– read your contacts
– modify your contacts
– read call log
– System tools
– test access to protected storage
– send sticky broadcast
– Affects Battery
– control vibration
– prevent device from sleeping
– Sync Settings
– read sync statistics
– toggle sync on and off
– read sync settings

 

(To read these terms yourself go to the Android app website and click “install”. The terms will appear in a new window.)

These terms are no different than that of Facebook or almost any other application. We are one click away from giving away our privacy completely. I certainly wouldn’t agree to these terms to anyone in person, but we are all too willing to provide corporations these details for a mediocre “Free” application. Kind of crazy.

8 Reasons Obama’s Presidency has failed

There are a lot of fans of the Obama Administration, but at this point I think there are just too many problems to ignore. Here are 8 issues I find especially troubling.

UPDATE: Washington post confirms the Government is pulling data from at least 9 separate sources including Google.

1. The NDAA – allowing for indefinate detention of U.S. citizens without trial.

2. CISPA – Would allow the Government to legally monitor all traffic and share information with ISPs. New evidence shows that they are already doing this, at least partially, (see #7 below) they just want to make it official!

3. Guantanamo Bay – still open, being expanded on.

4. Fast and Furious – The US Government caught red handed dealing arms to Mexican drug cartels.

5. Benghazi – 4 U.S. citizens killed in a terrorist attack.  “Stand down” orders were given to nearby U.S. Military responders, the administration knowingly lied about what happened, and all mere months before President Obama’s second election.

Note: Obama recently appointed Susan Rice as National Security Advisor (she lied about Benghazi over and over again). The interesting thing about this appointment is that it does not require Senate approval. Was he sending a message? I think so.

6. The IRS scandal – evidence of the direct targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.

7. The Government Spying on us – leaked papers recently proved that the US Government is tracking, logging, and data mining, all cell phone data.

8. The largest spy data center ever built – big enough to log every phone call conversation, every email, and every chat. Read about it here or here.

Big Government Part 1: Privacy vs. Security

On September 11, 2001 at 8:46am Flight 11 was rammed into WTC 1 at 446 mph. At that moment everything changed for America. The great nation and we people contemplated our own vulnerability. We were afraid. We were angry. We never wanted something like this to happen again.

Just over a month later on October 26, 2001 the Bush Administration exploited the fear and confusion among the American people to pass the most privacy-intrusive legislation in world history: The Patriot Act of 2001. Which begs a second question: How did they write AND pass such a comprehensive piece of legislation so quickly? (But maybe that’s another discussion.)

Surveillance State

Since 2001 it has become “common sense” that Americans will have to give up a piece of their privacy for the sake of “National Security”. The Government has since then installed at least 30 million surveillance cameras, built the largest spy data center on the planet, purchased a number of aerial surveillance drones, and more.

It is now fact that all of our emails, our voice conversations, and public actions are logged, tracked, and archived.

And in spite of Government surveillance capability tragedies such as the Sandy Hook and Auaura, Colorado shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. But instead of questioning the effectiveness of privacy related policy most popular media sources have demanded more surveillance.

Safety vs. Big Brother

I am not an advocate of the “Government is out to get you” school of thought, but I do question the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Government’s public safety tactics and installation Orwellian Big Brother style society. And while I do not foresee the Government becoming a Stalinist dictatorship (and least not anytime soon) – I do see a cultural shift of Government reliance – which I think is detrimental and dangerous.

For example, after the Boston Marathon Bombings local and federal authorities used the security cameras and surveillance data to identify and locate Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. In some ways this was proof positive that surveillance brings justice – but did it?

After the initial bombing Boston was shut down for nearly a week. Businesses closed, people were not allowed to leave their homes, and police were searching private homes at will for the suspects. People lived in a police state for days AND it cost the city billions.

So which was worse for Boston – the bombing or what followed? I would argue that the terrorist tactic wasn’t to blow up as many people as possible (the bomb was light for terrorist standards), but to exploit the Government’s security tactics in effort to disrupt society and cost them a lot of money. If so, it work.

I’m honestly happy we caught the terrorists, but when we deal with situations in such a manner the terrorist accomplish their goal – MAYHAM. Hardly anyone wants to discuss this though.

Big Data

Another problem with all of this surveillance is management.

I have worked as an IT security consultant for the last five years and I have experienced first hand the challenges of big data. There are various security and access concerns, storage issues, questions about how to mine, sort, and search data – and it’s all very, very expensive.

The amount of data the Government is allowed to collect is an immediate red flag. Who is accessing my data? What are they doing with it? How do we know China isn’t stealing it? Why are they allowed to have my data? Who is checking up on the Government? And how much is it costing the tax payer? And is it worth it?

Why We Need Privacy

Do you remember when you were a kid and you wanted nothing more than to go in your room and shut the door? Every now and again your Mom would walk in unannounced and you would shout “Knock first!”

What about if you found out your parents were listening in on your phone calls or reading your texts? I cringe just thinking about it.

Were you plotting little terrorist attacks or rubbing paint all over the carpet? Probably not. You probably weren’t doing anything wrong, but the idea of someone eavesdropping on your private life seemed awful.

Similarly, all of America deserves its privacy. We want privacy because there are certain aspects of our personal lives that belong to us. There are certain aspects of being free that include no one knowing about it. It is a fundamental part of humanity. A part of humanity that if ignored will lead to hostility and resentment.

That’s part of the problem with Big, Intrusive, Governments.

Featured Image Photo Credit

Surveillance: How the average Citizen is giving away their power

I’ve often wondered if the type of surveillance the American people are subjected to (and somehow remain ignorant to or just blissfully ignore) will effect politics of the future. Think about it.

Most average people use Twitter, Facebook, and are probably writing on blogs. Their information has been mined, stored, sorted, and archived. They are trapped. We same people will be running for political office and may attempt to become leaders of free society.

What will the impact of the self-documentation and self-incrimination of our entire life result? The embarrassing pictures, the Facebook rants when you were 17, your changing political philosophy, etc. Think about it – even if you carefully monitor your own social network computers can automatically detect your face in photos friends upload.

Will an average citizen be able to run for and win public office or will this type of information surveillance lead to a self-eliminating elitist favored political system.

Elites in Political Office

This is an idea that concerns me. If in the near future the average American has forfeited enough personal information on the internet and via surveillance to incriminate themselves to the point of non-electablility will the “average Joe” eliminate themselves from the election pool?

What this my leave is elitist candidates who have been carefully groomed from birth to act as our political leaders. Chosen by the elites to act in their interest and elected by the people simply because a normal person has too much baggage floating around on the internet. Kind of an interesting thought.

Privacy – The Government is Watching You

What does your data say about your life?