Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother?

From an article by David Samuels in the Wired web site:

“Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people—even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.

“Still, it can’t happen here, right?”

This is one scary article. It describes today’s efforts to go beyond spying on citizens and instead actually controlling their lives. You can read it at:

Amazon-owned Ring has Reportedly Been Spying on Customer Camera Feeds

I own a Ring doorbell that has a built-in video camera that (1.) allows me to see who is at my door and/or on the walkway leading to the door as well as (2.) recording all visitors’ actions in the cloud where the videos can be later reviewed by me and I can even forward the videos to by law enforcement officers, if necessary. I also have a Ring camera in the garage where it keeps an eye on my sports car and other possessions, as well as monitoring access to the second entrance into my home.

I purchased the Ring doorbell a few months ago because I thought it would improve my home’s security by helping to identify would-be burglars as well as “porch pirates” who steal FedEx or UPS or Amazon packages from the front door. Now it looks like my belief was wrong. In fact, the Ring devices are spy devices that save video records of ME, my family members, and my visitors and make the videos available to Ring, a division of Amazon. Instead of improving home security, Ring REDUCED my security.

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Facebook Filed a Patent To Calculate Your Future Location

Many people worry about companies and governments that track their movements. Now Facebook has filed several patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for technology that uses your location data to predict your FUTURE movements and also predict when you’re going to be offline.

An article in BuzzFeed News reports:

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Next-Generation Aegis Fortress L3 USB Drive

Need a secure place to keep your digital secrets or to transport them to a different computer, possibly some distance away? An encrypted flash drive is a good solution for up to 256 gigabytes of data. However, what do you do if you have more data then that to be kept secure.?

Portable hard drives are available from a number of manufacturers at reasonable prices. Of course, if the information is sensitive for any reason (business data, personal secrets, medical records, financial information, or more), you might prefer to use a high security portable hard drive that is designed specifically for security considerations. One strong candidate is the new Next-Generation Aegis Fortress L3 USB Drive.

The following is an announcement written by Apricorn:

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Our Automobile License Plates have Become Tracking Beacons

“[Automated license plate readers (ALPR)] are a combination of high-speed cameras and optical character recognition technology that can identify license plates and turn them into machine-readable text,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “What makes ALPR so powerful is that drivers are required by law to install license plates on their vehicles. In essence, our license plates have become tracking beacons. After the plate data is collected, the ALPR systems upload the information to a central a database along with the time, date, and GPS coordinates. Cops can search these databases to see where drivers have traveled or to identify vehicles that visited certain locations. Police can also add license plates under suspicion to ‘hot lists,’ allowing for real-time alerts when a vehicle is spotted by an ALPR network.”

All this sounds innocuous. One would think the technology is being used only for law enforcement purposes. If you believe that, you probably are wrong. However, proof is difficult to find as the law enforcement agencies usually are reluctant to publicize their actions. We also can guess that law enforcement agencies probably are not the biggest source of such information sharing. Instead, suspicion exists that the manufacturers of the automated license plate readers collect, save, and possibly share far more information about your movements than does any single law enforcement agency, all without public oversight.

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Privacy International Lodges Complaints Against Seven Firms for Breaching Data Protection

Acxion, Oracle, Criteo, Quantcast, Tapad, Equifax, and Experian are all in Privacy International’s sights, with the organisation filing complaints in the UK, Ireland and France, urging data protection authorities to look into what it alleges is the “mass exploitation” of individuals’ data.

Details may be found in an article by Roland Moore-Colyer in The Inquirer at:

Thousands of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin

In Sweden, a country rich with technological advancement, thousands have had microchips inserted into their hands. The chips are designed to speed up users’ daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers. They also can be used to store emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets for events and rail journeys within Sweden. Proponents of the tiny chips say they’re safe and largely protected from hacking, but one scientist is raising privacy concerns around the kind of personal health data that might be stored on the devices.

I think I would be more concerned about the tiny chips being used to track my every movement, recording where I have been, and even recording the people I probably talked with (if they also have embedded microchips so that two or more microchips in one location simultaneously can be considered to be a meeting).

Details about this scary technology may be found on the NPR web site at: