Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

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By @anarchyroll

The golden rule. Only hard to abide when it is an inconvienience to our ego.

The right to privacy is not explicitly stated in the US Constitution. However, Americans have since the country’s inception, have implicitly demanded a right to privacy. If that were not the case, the Quartering Act of 1765 wouldn’t have been a big deal, catalyst for the colonies.

Americans work hard. So whether or not we play hard or not, we seemingly demand to know that if we do play hard that it will remain our business. What is our business? Whatever we do when we are not trading our time for money or services from another person or persons. That time off the clock, that is our personal time, our free time.

Personal and free are two words the vast majority of Americans take to heart regardless of age, creed, color, sex, or status. What we do with our personal/free time is nobodies business but our own as long as no laws are broken.

Is that not the perceived right to privacy? Is that asking too much?

Apparently the ask is too low because it is a right that has been bought and sold in a deal between the Republican controlled Congress and Internet Service Providers. The only thing surprising is how public and unapologetic the entire thing was. The legislation may have been crafted in the smokey backrooms of private Washington D.C establishments, but the sellout was done very much in the public eye.

The legislation was covered both by the internet press and mainstream media. There was plenty of outrage but very little resistance. The parties that will benefit from this have gerrymandered themselves into partisan footholds of the legislative branch. Hardline partisan politcal lines have been made facing consequences for many in Congress as much a part of the past as the personal privacy they just stripped away from everyday Americans.

Privacy may not be good enough for common folks anymore, but those in power still command it. Literally at the same time Congress took away privacy from the public, the White House announced it would no longer make public its visitor list citing “privacy concerns“. This two faced hypocrisy is a poster for why having a title or position of power does NOT make a person a leader.

Taking away from the many and giving more of it to the few. Yep, that is what America was founded on alright. That is definitely the cornerstone of American values. That is what the grand experiment of democracy is all about right? Right?

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by @anarchyroll

Life is shades of gray. Black and white, right and wrong seems to increasingly be in the eye of the beholder. Edward Snowden to say the least is a controversial figure. A hero to some, a traitor to others? Did he break numerous laws? Yes. Did he do the American public a great service? Yes.

Privacy is a unique topic of discussion. It is a special issue in that the vast majority of people regardless of political affiliation, gender, race, or religion believe we as humans are entitled to our privacy. From the strictest catholic straight white man to the most flamboyant, liberal, multi racial, transgender. If we didn’t value privacy, there would be no suburbs, there would be no houses, there would be no doors.

The first world may have given up its privacy unknowingly/ignorantly as it embraced smartphones and free internet services over the past decade. When Edward Snowden helped reveal to America and the world the scale of privacy invasion being purposefully deployed by the US government on its citizens, the outrage was split evenly.

One part anger at the government for abuse of power, one part at Snowden for breaking the law and potentially endangering military operation(s), and one part anger at ourselves for being willfully blind to what we as a society didn’t want to think about or acknowledge…that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The free services that seemed too good to be true, were. We have been paying for Facebook, Google, Spotify and the like with our personal data and privacy.

It is human nature to direct and reflect self-hatred outward. That is what Edward Snowden‘s critics are doing. They are angry that he let the world know that which we wish we didn’t. That we are being watched.

That is what he blew the whistle about. That is why he is in exile in Russia. That is why the newspapers that he leaked his information to are swimming in Pulitzer Prizes. Because he removed all shadow of doubt that the government is indeed watching us. They’re watching us, listening to us, tracking us, and there is nothing we can do to stop them. Just typing that out makes me angry. Reading it probably makes you angry or apathetic, both are natural.

It’s natural to point the finger and blame a person. It’s natural to label one person as an enemy.

Snowden is not the enemy. Trying to profit from the information would have made him the enemy. Staying silent, blind, deaf, and dumb would have made him the enemy. But rather than stay comfortable, he took the road less traveled by. He faced the fear of being classified an enemy of the US government. But whistleblowers are not the enemy of the people. They are some of our greatest allies. Snowden is an ally of freedom, an ally of privacy, an ally of innate human rights. Snowden shouldn’t need a pardon but whistleblower protections have failed him. He did the right thing for the public, let’s do the right thing for him, and push for a pardon so he can come home.

by @anarchyroll

One of the most oppressive governments in the world enacting a science fiction based methods for stopping crime and terrorism…what could go wrong?

The Minority Report was an alright movie because of how fantastical the concept of solving crimes before they happen is. Fantastical in a free society at least.

Don’t let the fact that it is the largest economy in the world fool you, China is not a free society. Their communist government has their fingers in everything. In the case of the electronic data of the citizens of China, the government prefers a hand on the throat instead of a finger on the pulse.

I wonder if this attempt to stop crime and terrorism before it happens is in any way correlated with the ideological purification campaign the government has admittedly been undergoing.

Intense cultural censorship, absolutely zero digital privacy, and an authoritarian government. People in America seem paranoid that Donald Trump, a benefactor of a free market society in a democracy is going to descend the country into a racist, fascist state. Yet, the country that owns over a trillion dollars of US debt, is enacting a reality on its citizenry beyond what George Orwell could have imagined.

An authoritarian regime using data mining to predict crime before it happens seems more troubling than a real estate mogul making it halfway through a democratic election process. There is so much going on in this world it is impossible for a person to put care and effort into all the news that’s fit to print.

But let us keep the proverbial eye out as technology and power continue to intersect with each other, so we don’t one day wake up blindfolded to a materialized science fiction dystopia.

Think that a Matrix movie like dystopia is pure fantasy? What exactly does this image remind you of?

 

by @anarchyroll
6/11/2014

When you’ve been labeled a traitor by the United States federal government and are in hiding in Russia, you’ll take just about any endorsement you can get. Having one of the three most recent Vice Presidents of the United States give you a thumbs up, is Christmas come early.

Al Gore said that Edward Snowden, in addition to breaking the law, “provided an important service” in exposing the NSA bulk surveillance programs.

Gore didn’t completely pardon Snowden’s actions, admitting that he did break the law and would have to serve some penalty for doing so. But Gore also refused to label Snowden a traitor, which is a huge step forward in the public debate on this issue.

The court of public opinion must shift if Snowden is to be able to return to America. The one thing Democrats and Republicans seem to have in common these days is condemning Edward Snowden as a traitor and kissing up the to Military Industrial Complex.

Gore’s endorsement of the good that came out of Snowden’s action are a good start and a good step in the right direction for those in power and on the left to come around to seeing Snowden as more of a whistleblower and less of a traitor.

by @anarchyroll
5/7/2014

The last year has been full of vindication for all those paranoid schizophrenics out there.

We now know that not only has the NSA essentially been getting all the data on the internet and storing it, which is bad enough, but it came out this week that they weren’t using a back door but rather have the keys to the front of anything and everything Google. Which is basically everything that isn’t Apple.

The paranoia about what is done with our information is done online is spreading, and why wouldn’t it? It has also been found that our search engine uses and habits have changed in the wake of the NSA leaks.

I suppose I should think that unlawful spying is unlawful spying regardless. But something, and I’m not sure what exactly bothers me more than Google has been in on it the whole time. Call it naivety, and you’d probably be right or the other thing to call it is a natural reaction to massive trust violation.

This is why those agreements we have to sign before signing up for anything for free online is so long and in such small print I suppose. Fill it with loopholes so there is no legal obligation to not sell the information of every customer to a data broker or give it to Uncle Sam. What about the moral obligation? Oh, there’s that naivety again. It’s business, who has time for morals?  After all, what could be more moral than listening to one’s government?

It is sad how much Google is able to justify what they did to themselves. I suppose that there is a strong correlation with trust violation and monetary profit, not just these days, but basically since currency became the currency of the world. The amount of flagrant Big Brother going on with the NSA and telcoms physically weakens me. It makes me feel like not writing. All the more reason to write. The quality may not be on par, but if anyone learns about what is going on through my writing then it’s worth it.

Great news sources that stay on top of the NSA are: The Intercept, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and The Verge.

 

by @anarchyroll
5/4/2014

I am not old enough to remember a time when Washington DC wasn’t all smoke and mirrors for the elite to create the illusion of freedom. A great example of this is the current effort by the Obama Administration seeking legal immunity for the major telecommunication companies for complying with the NSA’s bulk metadata collection programs. Why is this typical Washington BS? Because the telcomms already have immunity because they were following the law when they complied with FISA court requests. The White House feels the need to request immunity for telcomms because of the multiple NSA reforms that are currently making their way through Congress. But if the Bush Administration wasn’t prosecuted, Gitmo is still open, and no one from Wall Street went to jail after 2008; is formal immunity really needed from Verizon, Comcast, and the gang?

So a sarcastic blog paragraph, is that it? NO. The real story here is in the earmarks. Both supporters and defenders of the NSA are trying to attach hidden bills, add ons, amendments, etc to the various bills to advance their agenda through the back doors of democracy.

This is a problem not just because of how shady earmarks are in principle, but the fact that both sides are doing it threatens to undo any and all NSA reform. Both sides are saying all the right things but are doing very different things when the doors are closed and the cameras are off, what else is new? So keep an eye and an ear on the legislation that eventually makes it to a vote that reforms and repeals the NSA’s various Big Brother programs. Will they do nothing? Go too far? Not far enough? One will have to go beyond the headline and seek out whether there are earmarks and if so what they entail to know the validity and likely the fate of any changes to the NSA’s ability quest to destroy private lives as we know it.

 

by @anarchyroll
3/31/2014

Data mining and data brokers are two concepts that everyone who has a smart phone and/or uses the internet need to at least be aware of. One need not be an activist on the subject, but these are issues that effect you whether you care or not, know about them or not, are pro or con. If you are the type who is upset about the NSA bulk collection revelations by Edward Snowden, data mining and data brokers definitely need to be on your radar.

  • Who is mining our data? Traction, Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon and Experian are the big time data brokers. But there are literally thousands of these broker firms.
  • What is data mining? Data mining and data brokering is why email and social media are free. They are why you get a discount with a membership card at a grocery store, coffee shop, department store, etc. Our email addresses, likes, retweets, pins, reblogs, and purchases are monitored, collected, grouped, and sold in bulk to the highest bidder.
  • When is our data being mined? Any time we visit a website. Any time we log in to any online account with a registered email address. Any time we pay for something with a credit, debit, or gift card.
  • Where are these data mines? The headquarters/ server farms at the HQ of Google, Facebook, and the data brokerage firms listed above. Google and Facebook keep the information whereas the data brokers exchange and sell the information just as stocks, options, treasuries, etc are on Wall Street.
  • How is this done? Digitally/electronically through cookies in your web/ios browser(s), the networked computer the card swiper in the store is attached to…you get the idea.
  • Why is this worth knowing about and/or caring about? Because it is unregulated and most people don’t know that simply visiting a website is giving permission for your information to be raided, collected, and sold. Because our privacy is not just being violated, for those who use web browsers and smartphones, our privacy actually no longer exists.

The data mining industry is self-regulated. How did self-regulation work out for the meat-packing industry? Tobacco industry? Investment banking industry? Real estate industry?

60 minutes recently did a piece on data mining that is a must see for every internet user. The videos are short, easy to digest, informative, and unbiased. Including the journey to opt out of data collection and the easier, smaller steps we can all take to protect our privacy.

The billboards one sees when driving on a highway, have now replaced the road. There is no such thing as a free lunch. We were/are all naïve to think that email, social media, and discounts at retailers came at no cost. The costs are our identities, habits, desires, physical location, history, age, sex, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and failures. All the things we used to only tell our friends and family that we now post electronically for the entire world to see. The thing about that is, advertisers are part of the world too.

We have a right to privacy. A basic human right. Many people will be and are happy to give it away in exchange for what they get online and offline. But data mining is done in secret. Big data are obstructing congressional investigations into them. If what they are doing isn’t wrong, why the secrecy? Why the obstruction? Why decline interviews? Why not let people opt out?

And before you point the finger at the firms listed above, remember the biggest, baddest and OG of the data mining industry has been and always will be, Google.

by @anarchyroll
1/30/2014

I’ve never downloaded a game onto my smart phone. No I’m not being pretentious, my overuse of social media, online dating, email, and news apps makes me no better than those who spends their days killing time Gatling gun style via game apps. Angry Birds honestly never appealed to me, neither did Farmville, Words with Friends, or anything Zynga related.

I’m sure the NSA has my metadata, along with yours, under digital lock and key by now. I only started being cautious with my web usage like two years ago, much too late in the game.  The privacy concern equivalent of wanting to buy a VHS this past Christmas.

It gave me a minor chuckle, and an even bigger headache to hear that the NSA has been using Angry Birds as a patsy for bulk collection of meta data through smart phone applications.  With reportedly $1 billion spent, I guess it should come as no surprise that the NSA and GCHQ (the UK’s NSA equivalent) is able to scoop up this information at will as well as “monitor YouTube and social media traffic in real-time” of anyone accessing the internet in any way on any device. No joke, didn’t 1984 have something just like that?

Look on the bright side, you know you should have uninstalled these games off your phones months ago.

But remember, thinking or saying to yourself or out loud; oh the hell with it, it’s done might as well go about my business anyway, is what they want. Why return to feudalism when peoples’ ego, cynicism, and self defeatism castrates their power voluntarily with the illusion of knowledge empowerment?