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Is Your Television Watching You?

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posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 06:43 PM
Could the federal government find out what you're watching on TV? Even if you're not the subject of a criminal investigation? If you're a satellite TV or TiVo owner, the answer is yes, according to legal experts and industry officials.

Under the USA Patriot Act, passed a month after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the feds can force a noncable TV operator to disclose every show you have watched. The government just has to say that the request is related to a terrorism investigation, said Jay Stanley, a technology expert for the American Civil Liberties Union. Under Section 215 of the Act, you don't even have to be the target of the investigation. Plus, your TV provider is prohibited from informing you that the feds have requested your personal information.

"The language is very broad," Mr. Stanley said. "It allows the FBI to force a company to turn over the records of their customers. They don't even need a reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior."

David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington think tank, said the Cable Act of 1984 gives cable operators greater protection against the Patriot Act. Cable companies do not have to release an individual's records unless the feds show that the person is the target of a criminal investigation. Even then, the individual must be notified of the request, which he can then challenge in court. "The Patriot Act does not override the Cable Act," Mr. Sobel said.

You couldn't blame the satellite TV industry for feeling a little vulnerable these days. DirecTV, for instance, collects a large amount of individual data, such as program package orders, pay-per-view orders and even online purchases via the DirecTV-Wink interactive shopping service. The Justice Department could ask DirecTV to disclose whether you subscribe to Playboy or purchased Viagra if it would help an investigation.

But Andy Wright, president of the Satellite Broadcasting Communications Association, the industry's trade group, said he does not believe the feds will make frivolous requests. "They still have to issue a subpoena to get the data," he said. "Even in today's environment, I can't imagine a judge would approve a subpoena that is not warranted."

However, the ACLU's Mr. Stanley said the Patriot Act is different because the government can get the order from the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court rather than a judicial court. "It's not like a subpoena. The standards are much weaker than in a criminal case," Mr. Stanley said.

But Mr. Wright contended that satellite TV viewers should not be concerned that they will be subjected to improper searches. The satellite chief added he's not sure the federal government needs to give dish owners the same protection as cable viewers. "I would have to study that more before supporting that," Mr. Wright said.

The Patriot Act, which Attorney General John Ashcroft said is crucial to fighting terrorism in the United States, has scared many civil libertarians. However, the possibility that the feds could use the law to learn about your viewing habits has been overlooked until now. The invasion of privacy might be well intentioned and perhaps even necessary. However, there's also the danger that an overzealous team of agents will abuse the law. In the spirit of the early patriots, all Americans need to remain vigilant.

Story Link

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 06:45 PM
IF you think this is something, wait until Patriot II comes along...

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 06:48 PM
Why am I not surprised. Ever since 9/11 they now have an excuse to get any info on anybody under the "terror investigation excuse".

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 07:16 PM
I have Heard of this before, I don't Mind really. I have No Interest in ever doing Terrorism, In Fact I am very Anti-Terrorist. So I shouldn't Have anything to worry about.

But what Can They get or Earn from a List of Movies or Shows That someone Has watched on TV, how can That give any evidence to anything. Or can they acyually see you, or Hear YOu?

By the Way, does this Plan work with Chater Digital Cable. I would assume so, because alot more people own Charter Than Satellite.

Like I said Though, this shouldn't be a worry to anybody. Just don't Pln to be a terrorist and you will be fine.

But it is a Little disturbing and total Lack of Privacy.

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 07:19 PM
Doesnt it bother you that something that you wish to watch in the privacy of your own home, or something you wish to look at online, or something you post on ATS may well be used against you to determine your Citizen Threat Profile, by someone who otherwise knows NOTHING about you???

Do you normally allow strangers to make such profound decisions on your future without your knowledge or consent? And if you oppose this activity, you may well be branded an enemy combatant, loosing your rights, and being shipped off to spend the rest of your days with TRUE terrorists in the sunny land of Camp X Ray, Guantanamo Bay Cuba???

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 07:24 PM
that its absolutely crazy, how far are they going to push us...

[Edited on 5-4-2003 by The Blade Runner]

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 07:50 PM

Do you normally allow strangers to make such profound decisions on your future without your knowledge or consent? And if you oppose this activity, you may well be branded an enemy combatant, loosing your rights, and being shipped off to spend the rest of your days with TRUE terrorists in the sunny land of Camp X Ray, Guantanamo Bay Cuba???

I agree. But I hope things dont get that bad.

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 07:52 PM
I agree. But I hope things dont get that bad. Posted by Ocelot

Unfortunately, the day that Patriot II passes congress and is signed into law.... IT WILL GET THAT BAD....

posted on Apr, 4 2003 @ 07:57 PM

Unfortunately, the day that Patriot II passes congress and is signed into law.... IT WILL GET THAT BAD....

I guess you have a point. Civil Liberties are being taken away left and right. Although many will say that if you're not a terrorist you have nothing to worry about.... Im not so sure about that. I dont like the idea that someone can get any personal info on me. It sucks quite frankly.

posted on Apr, 5 2003 @ 06:26 AM
A few years ago a friend of mine told me that the TV could see into a person's home, in a double interactive way. He suggested that advances in fibre optics would create a whole new world of technological advances that could both benefit, and be used against mankind. Below is some information I've found mostly about interactive TV, check the links because they are full of information.

Ground-breaking legislation in California is fighting Microsoft and AOL to stop them creating the machine George Orwell foresaw - the TV set that watches you.

At the same time, a new book titled Spy TV exposes the methods by which digital interactive television will observe and experiment of viewers. It describes how neural network software will be used to create "psychographic profiles" and then "modify the behaviour" of individuals.

This year broadcasters will celebrate interactive TV in public, using words like "convenience" and "empowerment". AOL TV is rolling out with the TiVo personal video recorder (PVR), that helps viewers find and save programs they might like. Microsoft is launching its own PVR called Ultimate TV, claiming "It puts you in control!". But while you may be sold on home shopping and chat, broadcasters have been selling advertisers their new power to monitor everything you do with your remote.

At industry conferences on interactive TV, Microsoft has been handing out specifications of its new platform. Their Microsoft TV Server, for instance, enables "optimizes revenue opportunities by providing rich personalization and targeting of content and ads to consumers based on their television viewing and Web surfing histories and preferences."

Matthew Timms, of Two Way TV in London, describes this surveillance in the home in plain English: "..Somehow they feel they're sitting there - it's just them and the television - even though the reality is it's got a wire leading straight back to somebody's computer."

Are you worried about the increase in surveillance, domestic snooping, financial scrutiny and an all-pervasive "Big Brother" attitude on the part of government agencies and corporate entities? You have reason to be concerned.

Let me illustrate just how deeply you have been penetrated. Go into your living room, family room or bedroom; anywhere in your own home where you have a modern television. The TV is off, right? Or is it on? Is it on? No, it's off right? It's off, right?

Pick up the TV remote control device, point it at the box and push the power button. Most likely a device, either the TV, a cable box or video cassette recorder would've turned on. It was seemingly off before you pushed a button from the remote. You could have turned the device on from a myriad of positions within the room. The TV which you thought was off was actually in a standby mode and you activated it with a handheld device. The box came on.

The remote control device emitted a light wave, not a radio signal. You couldn't see the light which it emitted though, why? Because the light was in the infrared spectrum. The Infrared light bandwidth is much lower than the threshold for normal human perception. But you can prove that the device did emit a light. How? Point the same remote control at a video camera and when you playback the recording you'll see a blinking red light on the screen. I advise against looking directly into remote control devices to look for the light. Even though I have heard of no specific dangers to looking in a remote control light, it is a low-powered laser emitter and one just doesn't know what the damage to the eye could be resulting from such exposure.

The red light you saw blinking on the video camera playback is infrared light. Now think about some of the movies you've seen where the infrared spectrum was translated to visible light bandwidth. The Predator movies come immediately to mind but there have been numerous. Infrared can detect that which is commonly visible to other spectrum of light but can also read temperature changes, making it accessible to that which humans normally can't see.

So your TV has a "camera" in it which monitors this infrared bandwidth even while the television is seemingly turned off. It can virtually view an entire room; remember from how many different angles you were able to use the remote control. Yes, even when the TV, cable box or VCR is turned off, it's infrared eyes are still on. Deep, huh? Wait a minute -- it gets even wilder.

Most likely your system is hooked up to cable. Does the signal just come into your house or is the cable capable of transmitting a simultaneous feed from the house back to the cable service provider? We know absolutely that modern cable systems are implementing interactive multimedia networks. This can range from cable boxes which transmit viewer queries back to the distributor (i.e. Select TV, Pay-Per View, experimental interactive networks, etc.). Thus we've established that a connection could have already been made between your infrared scanner, the device in which it has been placed, the cable to which it is connected (and the cable is always active) and the cable service provider. The cable company ultimately has the technical ability to manipulate this intricate series of connections for whatever purpose suits its self-interests.

Imagine all the times when you would particularly not welcome such prying (infrared) eyes: strutting butt-naked around the home; frolicking with your (or someone else's) lover; watching a hot porno flick; beating your kids; beating yourself; engaging in criminalized activities; talking loud about your enemies (I forgot to say, the speakers in the TV can serve as baffles which serve a microphone-like effect) -- the disastrous possibilities for such intimate surveillance are seemingly endless.

We also have the fairly recent introduction of "Web-TV" and other Internet connections between your television and web service providers. These private businesses, whether large or small, now can access your intimacy in the same manner as the cable TV provider. Theirs is a more-obvious process of interactivity.

I think I've conveyed the warning fairly substantially. We have in the most developed nations become wired up to a potentially devastating mechanism for mass surveillance. Some of us would wish to protect our ability to remain discreet in our private affairs to the best of our abilities. As such we'd really better consider the endless possibilities which the modern lifestyle provides for our enemies or competitors to have access to our intimate moments.

The solution to the infrared camera in the television, cable box and VCR is not too complicated to override. I propose buying a little strip of Velcro and a square patch of leather or thick cloth. Merely tape the Velcro just above the small red window containing the infrared sensor and when you want the lens blocked attach the leather patch so that it blocks the window. Stand across the room and test the remote control and you'll find that it no longer activates the TV. Of course you could unplug the device and the cable but that would require extra time in reprogramming it every time it needed to be utilized. Velcro, a couple of pieces of tape and a patch of cloth or leather -- a simple solution.

It's hard to believe that something so seemingly-innocuous as a TV remote would lead us to this devastating theory of deep penetration by potentially hostile forces into our last bastion of refuge in a seemingly hostile world -- our home.

Information Links Below:

TV Spying

Interactive TV

Comcast Spying on Customers

The Spy in Your Living Room

Interactive TV Spies on Viewers

Spy TV

posted on Apr, 6 2003 @ 08:54 AM
look at my signature.


posted on Apr, 30 2005 @ 08:20 PM
What if a politician said something he/she wasn't supposed to between commercials in front of one of those "feeds" that just plays constantly on satellite tv?

They could track everyone down that saw that footage if they wanted to. And not just people in the US either.

posted on Apr, 30 2005 @ 08:37 PM
Awwww, you mean to tell me that if you watch a "liberal" show you could be a target for something?

If you dont watch Fox you must be anti- whatever?

This is getting to be just a bit much. My husbands grandma used to be "feeble" and say the tv was watching her...LOL...She wasnt feeble, i guess, she was psychic and had us all fooled.

posted on Apr, 30 2005 @ 08:41 PM
You almost had me going on this thread

Then I looked at the dates! This story is almost 2 years old

posted on Apr, 30 2005 @ 08:46 PM
I have to agree with xaos.

Why? What would be the point?

In addition, why should I worry if they know that I watch the flintstones, or Digimon?

If they dont want us watching liberal shows, they will just block or modify the content by exerting pressure on the producers.

posted on Apr, 30 2005 @ 08:54 PM
Let me be the first to say "John Titor"!!! A lot of the things he was saying are coming to pass. Most importantly the loss of our civil rights.

posted on May, 1 2005 @ 01:36 AM
Just do what I do- get DirecTV and don't plug your recievers into the phone line. It means no pay per view, but no tracking what I watch as well.

I think this first gained notoriety after Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. Tivo announced it was the most replayed event in Tivo history, and the ACLU responded with "WHAT? How do you know?"

posted on May, 1 2005 @ 01:59 AM
Oh God!!! Can they see all. (member runs to pull cable conection from wall)...............Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on May, 1 2005 @ 10:45 PM
Are they watching me? .....No

posted on May, 1 2005 @ 10:55 PM
My late Dad used to say TV is the one-eyed monster, and soon you will understand why I am saying that.
I know this is being done, and live TV and certain cable reruns still are able to see into one's home.
Ever call your cable co. and have a problem w/ reception?
All they 'need' is your home phone # to send any signal they wish to your TV.
This has been going on a long time.....

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