The age of information is a two-way street. On the one hand, we can know more about any subject in the world than we ever have been able to (or get fake information on any subject). We can also get live traffic information for places that are eight hours away, and we can talk to one another despite being in two totally different places on the planet. But all of that comes at a cost.
People and organizations can learn more about us than ever before, and we often willingly give this information to them. Very few people actually read user agreements, and we feel pressured into using services that give us little other option, especially when they are required by careers.
Facebook isn’t for free, not at least as far as your information is concerned. While the company makes money off ad revenue, the real gold mine is the treasure trove of raw information that can be mined for predicting voting outcomes and virtually any other event. If the information gets into the wrong hands, advertisers and political activists will manipulate the media (much like what we’re seeing right now) to try and convince people to give up their freedoms freely and willingly.
The media isn’t above lying to you, and soon they’re going to get better at it. They’ll know exactly how to lie to you and your loved ones, as well as your predisposed beliefs and your limits. They’ll try to dissuade you from voting or let you think that the best candidate is safe.
On top of that, we can expect advertisers to try and sell products to you using this information and many of the same tactics. Even if you think targeted ads on social media are fine, what’s next? Where does it end? One thing that’s for sure is that they’ll continue to try to engage with you more, and wherever your line is, it’ll be crossed sooner or later. This is where data mining and spying are leading us.
ISPs Know the Value of Data
As the gateways to limitless information, internet service providers know well what you’re up to, and the regulations in place to prevent them from making a huge profit off that information (or gaining another sort of advantage) are tenuous at best.
All they need to do is track website visit information to get a complete analysis of a household. For people with families, this means their household will be monitored, and children will be profiled before they’re even adults. Single people will have a more thorough document drawn up on them, ready to be shared with the world.
Beyond this, what about if other organizations want that information? Law enforcement can get far too powerful for the public good if it has this information, and foreign governments might be able to compromise important individuals.
And given their past actions, including effective price gouging, the forming of near-monopolies and the utilization of every method possible to retain and borderline scam customers, it would be no surprise to see them trying to sell your data to the highest bidder. In Washington there’s an ongoing drama related to that very subject, threatening to destroy one of the last barriers to privacy we have.
Whether you call them the Illuminati, the Skull and Bones Club, the New World Order or anything else, there’s likely more to the power structure of America than what initially meets the eye. The world’s elites need to maintain their base of power, and using other organizations, and data miners, is certainly not beyond them. Hackers can be bought, and IT professionals and statisticians can be used to various ends.
Everything is interconnected. Once one elite takes control of our data, the clear majority will use it. This trend needs to be reversed. There needs to be a fight for our very minds and opinions.
Defenses and Resistance
We can’t rely on the government to protect us (especially if they’re the ones to sell us out), so it’s up to the ordinary citizen to protect themselves and their family. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to make sure that you’re protecting yourself:
• Some people are unplugging themselves from the grid entirely, albeit that might be impossible for those of us whose livelihoods and lives revolve around IT communications.
• Others aren’t taking themselves off the grid, but they are using proxies and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to keep their actions hidden online. Considering how many organizations spy on people using their IP addresses, this is an effective tactic.
• Some are simply being especially careful of what social media networks they use and how the use them. Most of these are free, and if you aren’t the consumer, you are the product. Consider every social media platform to be a massive data mining operation. There are entire textbooks and papers on the subject.
• Misinformation and misdirection are just as useful as going dark. If you make groups question the credibility of the information they’re getting, they’ll possibly put less weight on these tactics.
There is a great deal more of information on the subject, and you are encouraged to check it out. Tactics will constantly change, and there will likely be additional ways for you to keep ahead of the game in the future. Information and preparation are invaluable when privacy is at stake.
What do you think? Are you concerned about your family’s information getting used by whatever government agents, corporate powers or shady organizations that get ahold of it? Leave a comment and engage with your fellow readers so that we can know what you’re thinking and what your plans are to confront this threat.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”
It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.
In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.
By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.
The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”
Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.