A review of two books on what today’s technology does to privacy quotes a useful metaphor from one of the authors. George Orwell warned against “Big Brother,” an all-knowing government that wants to track your every move. Today the bigger threat is from lots of “Little Brothers,” a multitude of corporations, companies, and online mechanisms that want to track your every move. [Read more…]
If you have a newish car, you can already integrate it with your smartphone, answering your cell with a button on your steering wheel and carrying on cellphone conversations through your car’s speakers. You can even buy “apps” for your car. But when your car is your phone and your computer, outside entities are getting their hooks into you. The price of getting information from the web is that the web is getting information on you.
Now Google has announced new initiatives with auto manufacturers, turning cars into Android devices. This will allow Google–along with its client companies and its government snoopers–to collect all kinds of personal information about the drivers. Google will be able to place ads– tailor made just for you and your buying weaknesses–right into your car.
Won’t that be a great advance in automotive technology? [Read more…]
The anti-terrorism surveillance, we are told, involves just aggregate data and in any event wouldn’t be a bother to ordinary law-abiding citizens. But a Long Island woman happened to be researching pressure cookers while her husband was shopping for backpacks. Whereupon six men from an anti-terrorism task force showed up at their home and subjected them to interrogation. [Read more…]
According to British journalist John Naughton, the consequences of the NSA surveillance scheme, as revealed by Edward Snowden, go far beyond questions of terrorism, espionage, or individual privacy. They impact the nature and governance of the internet and spell the end of the “world-wide” part of the “world-wide web.” [Read more…]
David Rosen and Aaron Santesso, writing in Slate, no less, says that J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings gives us better insight into “the surveillance state” than George Orwell’s 1984. [Read more…]
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been stuck in the transit zone of a Russian airport for a week. The U.S. government cancelled his passport, so he can’t get on another airplane. He has reportedly applied to 21 countries for asylum, all to no avail. (Some would take him, but he has to get there first.) What he should have done is settle in a country that would take him and then out himself as the leaker of the NSA internet and cell phone surveillance scheme. What he should do now is turn himself in to American authorities and take his punishment like a man.
Still, whether he is a traitor or a hero, I feel sorry for him. He is truly a Man Without a Country. (Read that short story by Edward Everett Hale to get your patriotic juices flowing on this Fourth of July.) [Read more…]