Our privacy has been plundered
By Jane Gaffin
George Orwell was right. Big Brother is watching!
So is his sibling Big Sis of "see something, say something" fame. Her U.S. Department of Homeland Security has become ubiquitous and the United States has declared itself the official world police force.
They are in accelerated motion toward total world control that comes frighteningly close to playing out the fictional 1967 British TV series, "The Prisoner", that portrayed a secret agent who suddenly resigned his post in disgust.
Knowing too much to be left unattended on the "outside", he is captured and renamed No. 6. He is held captive in a mysterious resort called "The Village" where he struggles to retain personal freedom, privacy and identity while attempting to escape relentless surveillance.
"I am not a number; I am a free man," he rails defiantly to an invisible person. "What do you want?"
"InFORmation," booms a pervasive voice. Yet it is obvious the authority's appetite for "inFORmation" can never be satisfied and "The Prisoner" will never be freed from bondage.
Privacy, like freedom, has to be protected tenaciously. Once gone, neither can be regained, which leaves individuals reduced to a number identity in a dystopian setting.
And here we are in the horror of a technological reality. Trojan Horses have infiltrated most electronic structures on the market these days and stealthily plundered our privacy.
The masses are under constant espionage with little hope to evade the spies who want every particle of "inFORmation" from every person. Companies offering Internet-related products and services willingly do the government's bidding without giving two hoots about computer users except as a profitable commodity to be mined.
Google and Microsoft Windows should be avoided, although shunning them is not full-proof protection against the unscrupulous master thieves who offer you no say about what personal information can be collected from you or where it can be disseminated.
If minimizing surveillance is possible for computer consumers who want to retain a modicum of privacy, they should not operate seemingly magical platforms which have been infected with malicious software.
Computer specialists advise to beware Facebook; "i" products, such as iPhones and iPads; Android (virtually any portable phone); YouTube; iTunes; Amazon; Flash Player; Google; Microsoft Windows (if possible, avoid any proprietary software that isn't compatible with other software) and GPS (Global Positioning System).
There, that list should serve as a good start to hurl you back into the Dark Age, which is precisely where we're going to land when the United Stasi of America pulls the Big Plug and gives the corrupt United Nations control of the Internet. To further lessen risk of losing your privacy, stop--or at least slow down--using easily-trackable credit and debit cards. Conduct business in cash as much as possible...at least until the government outlaws legal tender in favor of digital transactions only.
As a further electronic tracking method to enslave the masses, the government will eventually dictate that a scannable, bar-coded security ID card--the precursor to a privacy-sucking microchip implanted behind the ear--must be produced before you can purchase anything: food, dry goods, gas, big-ticket items, airline tickets.
And don't accept the claptrap that these snoops are only collecting group data to target "like and dislike" trends as a strategy for aiming advertising at select categories.
The truth is that all ordinary citizens have been deemed "terrorists", a myth flowing from the "Red Under Every Bed" scare in the 1950s that ruined the lives of thousands of innocent Americans who were framed as "Communists".
Tracking behavioral patterns today is all the proof intelligence agencies need to imprison "terrorists" without having to bother with a constitution or a courtroom. Conventional proprietary software has installed "back doors" and other malicious features which allow every Tom, Dick and Harriet to track and control a consumer's every move while these "digital handcuffs" are designed to restrict the computer user's freedom.
One way to partially side-shuffle surveillance is to run a "free" program that allows the consumer the freedom to adjust the operating features to suit his needs, rather than operating Microsoft and Google programs that imprison the user to the software developers' preferences.
It's helpful to ban Google from your machine in favor of private search engines, such as Ask and StartPage, which ostensibly crunch search information--or at least don't retain it. However, once information is introduced to the system, it is virtually impossible to destroy.
But anything is better than consenting to your personal inFORmation being collected into a large vat and sold for multi-millions to government agencies, big corporations or posted online without your consent.
Google, which contracts to the United Nations and the United States government, operates a half a dozen or so data collection centers of its own. The company is the top search engine because its appetite for inFORmation can never be satisfied. And it zips through such encumbrances as passwords, subscriber only, firewalls, anti-virus software, copyrights, privacy and mobile phones in the "off" position. Seizing Gmail accounts is a cinch.
Microsoft Windows also is known to have surveillance features specifically developed for Big Brother. As far back as September 1999, leading European investigative reporter Duncan Campbell revealed that the National Security Agency had arranged with Microsoft to insert special "keys" into Windows software, in all versions from Windows 95-OSR2 onwards.
Another unsavory feature is "Remote Installation of Software Changes", a universal backdoor which gives Microsoft the latitude to do absolutely anything "for", "to" or "against" a machine operating with Windows.
It's completely out of the owner's control. Any malicious feature not installed originally can be installed later through the remote-control feature without the owner's knowledge.
Windows seemingly has zero user security, except maybe against a third-party interloper. That leaves the user vulnerable to Microsoft itself or to whoever has Microsoft's cooperation: police, FBI, National Security Agency, Homeland Security, United Nations, Internet service providers, telecommunications companies.
When the Anti Security Movement caught and confronted Apple last September about contaminating its products with malicious features, the company is alleged to have removed any sinful installations, which doesn't preclude Apple from sneaking in the "back door" and reinstalling different snoop stuff. Despite Apple not appearing on surface as part of the traditional snoop herd, the company will have to comply with the FBI's dictate for all new software to be installed with "back door" features.
Customers would gladly pay extra if Apple would clandestinely install devices in its products to protect its loyal fans against the vulturous technocrats who are purposefully usurping people's privacy.
As it is, consumers actually foot the bills to have malicious applications installed to spy on them. The price of electronic gadgetry is marked up to offset costs to the private computer enterprises and software developers who in turn benefit greatly from scooping up invaluable user information to sell for Big Bucks.
Some of the easiest and most economical ways to achieve these sneaky tasks are with spyware tactics as well as with the tiny cameras built into every personal computer (cover the lens); meters built into home appliances; Intellistreet audiovideo devices mounted on light standards; and powerful satellite cameras circling high above the earth that can zoom down on the brand name of your wristwatch. Laser-equipped military drones are operated remotely from control centers by skillful "peeping-Tom" jocks who were video-game geeks in their youth. Their infrared equipment can penetrate walls that were once intended to provide privacy for householders.
Another problem is electronic junk disposal. Hard drives--operable or inoperable when dumped--basically can never have all data permanently eradicated unless maybe the innards are pulverized with a pile driver--which is no guarantee that some techno-wizard can't patch Humpty-Dumpty back together again and use the information against you!
Already, the Big Siblings are unconstitutionally incarcerating citizens in jails and mental wards as "potential terrorists" simply for posting their private thoughts on FaceBook. Yet devious government con artists continue to encourage everybody to take advantage of FaceBook. After all, it is a super-easy dragnet for the villains to effortlessly track and nab prey.
Fool ‘em. Don't follow the crowd to any free social network services. Once "in", there is no escape route "out".
As though the myriad of data-collection centers located on virtually every military base isn't sufficient for domestic and foreign "inFORmation" gathering, the National Security Agency (NSA) has constructed a sprawling listening post at Bluffdale, Utah.
The super-sucker snoop that goes by the innocuous tag of Utah Data Center promises to siphon your every written and spoken word, and maybe thoughts, itemized computer till receipts, credit card records, bank statements. Everything. The mega-intelligence facility will permanently collect every morsel of personal information generated above ground or below the ocean and store the "inFORmation" into a hungry bottomless pit of databanks under the NSA's subterfuge of finding "terrorists".
Jane Gaffin is a freelance writer living in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.