Archive for the ‘RIght to Privacy’ Category

blackout graphicWordHits is joining the #CISPABlackout today. The latest threat to our privacy (online and IRL) is CISPA–a bill that will allow pretty much any agency of the government (Post Office? IRS? Forest Service) to access your personal data culled through websites.

Yes, that means all of your emails, Facebook posts, online purchase history, online search history—all will be accessible to government agencies and their employees without a warrant.

Not only is this Orwellian Big Brother scary, but also it will be a boon to stalkers and identity thieves. #StopCISPA

What Everyone Needs to Know About CISPA

WIRED: CISPA and Privacy Issues and Identity Theft

List of US Government Agencies That Will Have Access to Your Data

Security Expert: CISPA Not Needed, Would Do More Harm Than Good

ZDNet on How to Join the CISPA Protest

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Am I the only one who switched from Google to Bing on March 1? Don’t get me wrong. I loved Google, but I have no love for their new shockingly invasive “privacy” policy. As of March 1, Google is saving *and consolidating* all of your data: your searches, your phone number, any Gmail accounts on your computer, your Google+, YouTube, and anywhere that you’ve Google Mapped.

Did you browse for a divorce lawyer? Did you look up side effects of Ambien? Did you ask for directions to the AA meeting? Er, do you know what your teenager has been watching on YouTube? Google does, and they are holding onto all of this information to build a composite of you and your family. Basically, they are creating their own avatar of you which they plan to save indefinitely. Google says it’s for advertising—now you might get ads for Lunesta or for the Wal-Mart near that AA meeting you mapped. (Actually, you are already getting these tie-ins if you use Gmail.)

It gets worse. Google will identify and track your computer hardware model, operating system, software, unique device identifiers, and network information, including your phone number. Once they have your phone number, they will track and save any number that you called, any calls you forward, as well as the time, date, and duration of all your calls. It’s like they commandeered the Patriot Act, minus the semblant subpeonas and court orders. Why does Google need to know about every call you have ever made in order to pop up an ad for Disney or American Airlines???

What’s even scarier, and downright outrageous, is that there is NO way to opt-out.

OK, so it’s pretty tricky to figure out the labyrinthine, Kafkaesque opt-out of say, Facebook. But at least Facebook is acknowledging our right to privacy, sort of. Google is acting like we don’t have any such rights. They are just pushing ahead, hoping we don’t notice—sort of like a quarterback rushing to get the next play off before the ref realizes that the last catch was actually out of bounds.

So now, beware, Google is watching and monitoring your every click … and call. Heck, even the police need a warrant to search your computer or your phone records. I’m no lawyer, but it’s pretty clear Google is violating our constitutional right against unlawful “search and seizure” as outlined in the Fourth Amendment.

If this all sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because you have read George Orwell’s 1984. “Big Brother is watching you.” Or maybe you have read The Hunger Games? Or perhaps you were around 30 years ago when this sort of surveillance was regularly practiced by the Soviet Union’s secret police, the KGB, which in 1983 Time Magazine called “the world’s most effective information-gathering organization.” These tactics were also used by the Stasi, the secret police of East Germany. Note, if you haven’t seen it, this is rendered heartbreakingly in The Lives of Others, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2006.

Perhaps I’m starting to sound alarmist with a twist of conspiracy theory? It’s just Google, after all. But …

Hey, remember that time Google hired the head of the Pentagon’s research arm?” tweeted writer Chris Arnold. Ha ha, but wait. It’s true. Director Regina Dugan, who has overseen the Pentagon’s cyber security R&D for three years, has accepted a job at Google. Hmm. Arnold also compared Google to Skynet in The Terminator. Ten years ago I would have laughed at that. Now, I’m not so sure. Google saves my search data, they scan my Gmail for key words, they track all my phone calls, and they zoom in on my house via Google Earth. Logan’s Run, anyone?

Isn’t it also odd how little buzz has surrounded all this? Only a month ago we had a giant protest and media out lash against the proposed SOPA/PIPA regulations. But, of course, that was promoted on Google, by Google. This time Google is the one pushing the boundaries, and except for Bing and Twitter, there has been surprisingly little criticism from Silicon Valley.

I’m hoping people wake up and take notice. I’m hoping Google gets reigned in. The Attorneys General of of 36 states have banded together to address the issue. Also, several members of Congress have expressed concern. But so far not much has been done. So PLEASE contact them with your concerns. If not, it won’t be long before other internet companies adopt similar profiling measures. Seriously, Skynet!

Meanwhile, I’m using Bing, which I actually really like. Who would have thought that Microsoft would be the “alternative” to the Evil Empire? Or Yahoo would? I’m back to them for email and news etc. I never got into Google+, but if you use it, again, beware! Here are some tips to limit your online exposure to Google’s new tracking system.

I do miss Google. Even though I’ve deleted the apps and the bookmarks, I still sometimes land there by habit. And when I do, I type in “privacy.”

Google’s New “Privacy” Policy

CNN: Google Knows Too Much About You

UK Daily Mail: Google Will Soon Know More About You Than Your Partner

Time Magazine: The Basics Behind Google’s New Privacy Policies

Time Magazine: How to Limit Your Exposure to Google’s New Privacy Policies

Washington Post: Google Announces Privacy Changes: Consumers Can’t Opt Out

Google Hires Pentagon Director of Cybersecurity R&D

Attorneys General Join Together to Challange Googles Privacy Policy

Lawmakers Question Google’s New Privacy Practices

Contact Your Elected Officials

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