Hello again ATS!
This is a subject that I have created quite a few threads about - never mind trying to even begin putting a total upon the number of individual posts
I have made regarding this over the years. To me the issue of cyber-privacy is the most long lasting and important issue of our time. There are other,
shinier issues that come and go and which have much more of a mass appeal factor. But few, if any of those will have a long term impact in the same
way that cyber-privacy will.
Bear this in mind, as it merits it. I am 46 years old and was born into and raised in a society where the government just listening into a single
phone conversation without warrant could make national news. It didn't matter if the target was a Mafioso, mass-murderer, drug-dealer, or whatever
the case might be. People became very, very upset whenever they heard about Uncle Sam snooping where the law wouldn't allow him to.
Now, fast forward a couple of decades. We've got an entire society that is accustomed
to being spied upon. We all know it is going on. Hell,
we all know that it is no longer even isolated to the Government. Now it is fair game for our employers, our banks, our ISP's, our cable companies,
our video rental supplier, our computer operating system creators, our department stores, grocery stores, gas stations, friends, neighbors, family
members, and even the grease pit we stop at to pick up a burger for lunch - the one that offers "free WiFi" to do so too. Just stopping at a traffic
light in most towns is, you guessed it, a chance to be spied upon and recorded.
Everyone is spying on us, for a myriad of malicious and selfish reasons - all day long, every single day. And we tend to just shrug it off as
What happened? What made a society that was vehemently opposed to surveillance suddenly, over just 20 short years, become apathetic and complacent
about the issue.
Of course that question is rhetorical and the answer is easy to peg down. Our love for the Internet did it. We were seduced by little windows that
popped up and told us that providing just a little totally anonymous
information would make our experiences much faster and enjoyable. Just
some harmless and very specific things about ones computer, or general geographic location - all in the name of ease. That sucked us into the door. It
opened us up to the very next step, which was "GREAT NEWS! No longer do you have to deal with those annoying windows asking for information! We've
now created things that will store and provide that information instantly and automatically! WE'VE MADE THE INTERNET EVEN EASIER!!!!"
Most kids today can't understand the generation that made these easy-out choices because most kids today have had it rather easy. They've grown up
in a "plug and play" world - one where they've never had to master telephony, configure a winsock, or open up a DOS shell and learn programming on
the fly just to get their computer to function - often barely. I am not taking away from the amazing things that kids today can accomplish. I am just
saying that if you put most of them in a room with an old 386 machine and an early copy of Windows or DOS they'd have the same sort of tantrums that
many of us wound up having. The difference was that we did not have the option of giving up and moving onto the 64 bit machine running in the other
room. We were stuck having to make those horrible things work - whether we liked it or not.
That is why we were ripe for plucking with the word "Easy". Hell, even Staples still markets to us with their commercials and advertisements. We
were THAT traumatized by the 1970's-1990's computers.
This all leads us up to the article I just found, on CNN, that sums it up - and from which the title of this thread is taken. Please look at these
snippets and take the time to read the article. I believe it is an important issue:
(CNN) -- I'm going to start with three data points.
One: Some of the Chinese military hackers who were implicated in a broad set of attacks against the U.S. government and corporations were identified
because they accessed Facebook from the same network infrastructure they used to carry out their attacks.
Two: Hector Monsegur, one of the leaders of the LulzSac hacker movement, was identified and arrested last year by the FBI. Although he practiced good
computer security and used an anonymous relay service to protect his identity, he slipped up.
And three: Paula Broadwell,who had an affair with CIA director David Petraeus, similarly took extensive precautions to hide her identity. She never
logged in to her anonymous e-mail service from her home network. Instead, she used hotel and other public networks when she e-mailed him. The FBI
correlated hotel registration data from several different hotels -- and hers was the common name.
The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time.
Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on
our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one
Sure, we can take measures to prevent this. We can limit what we search on Google from our iPhones, and instead use computer web browsers that allow
us to delete cookies. We can use an alias on Facebook. We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters.
There are simply too many ways to be tracked. The Internet, e-mail, cell phones, web browsers, social networking sites, search engines: these have
become necessities, and it's fanciful to expect people to simply refuse to use them just because they don't like the spying, especially since the
full extent of such spying is deliberately hidden from us and there are few alternatives being marketed by companies that don't spy.
And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from
company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at will without a warrant.
Welcome to an Internet without privacy, and we've ended up here with hardly a fight.
Wise words from a seemingly wise man.
We began by agreeing for a few cookies and some information that made life easier. Now we live in a world where anyone, from the Feds to Wal Mart can
access private information and use it against us, whether to prosecute us or prey upon us. The digital devices that we carry with us everywhere leave
a footprint that anyone with a desire can access and analyze.
It's a frightening though to know the government can do this. But to know that private interests can and do participate in it on a large and
wholesale scale? Well it's time for us to redefine some things.
Maybe we do need to go back to dial up networking, configuring Winsocks, and monochrome monitors. Is having Youtube handy really worth seeing the
Fourth and Fifth Amendments - and our expectation to reasonable privacy simply evaporate?
Thanks for reading.