You know that feeling you get when you’re in public and realize your zipper is down? Exposed, uncovered, vulnerable and maybe even a little violated? Some of you are going to feel that way after reading today’s article. Some might accuse me of needing a tinfoil hat after reading this, but I assure you this information is credible. I have used the best sources I can find. If I had to guess, this is only scratching the surface.
There is no such thing as privacy…at least in the modern age of technology; oh and Big Brother is watching. What you say on your cell phone, data you save on your smartphone, write in emails, post to social media, search on the Internet for, say near a cell phone (even if it’s off) and more is all susceptible to being actively stored, cataloged and monitored.
I realize what I have said so far might seem a bit dramatic, so instead of writing my opinion I will give sources for the statements I have made and give you my $.02. Before I go on, I want to address what some of you may be thinking; “I’m not doing anything illegal! Why should I care who tracks what?” You may not be doing anything illegal now but there may well come a day when simply living out our Christian beliefs may be illegal. Saying that marriage should be between one man and one woman could, in the future, be viewed as a hate crime. Don’t think so? Here is an article from the Christian News network called “Canadian Supreme Court Rules Biblical Speech Opposing Homosexual Behavior is a ‘Hate Crime’.” As I will explain below, some of what you say now, can come back to haunt you.
There are so many security and privacy concerns when it comes to the Internet that I can’t cover them all. Here are some that I think you should be aware of. As Forbes.com states in their article called “Google Hands Over User Data For 94% Of U.S. Law Enforcement Requests”
“When law enforcement comes looking for evidence hidden in your Google search history, Gmail or the uncountable other Google services that touch many Internet users’ lives, don’t expect Google to turn the investigators away. In 19 out of 20 cases in the second half of last year, the company handed over at least some of the data the government demanded.”
I have read from multiple sources that in some cases, Google didn’t require a warrant.
This means that every search term, every site visited, every document in Google Documents or similar online document hosting software, every download that is done from your computer has the possibility of being compiled and stored about you. I don’t know about you but I have done some research related to preparedness and potential threats that, if taken out of context, could make me look like a homegrown terrorist.
The National Security Agency (NSA)
Here is where things get a little spooky. I have read quite a lot about the abilities, practices and plans of the NSA and it is all very concerning to me. In short, the NSA has put nearly every American on virtual surveillance by keeping track of every email and other online habits, storing them for possible future use. This has all been done without warrants and according to one of the videos shown below, one whistle blower from the NSA claims it was all done under something called “Terrorist Surveillance Program”. It’s not that the NSA is actively monitoring all digital communications, but that they are storing it and, if the need should arise, they can do a search for a suspect’s name and pull all digitally stored data relevant to that person. In one of the videos below, NSA whistleblower William Binney states that the NSA has been collecting this data for at least the last ten years.
As you can imagine this would require a massive datacenter to store all of this data, which is why the NSA has recently built a “spy center” in Bluffdale, Utah. To help put the amount of data they will be capable of storing into perspective, FOX news, in their article called NSA data center front and center in debate over liberty, security and privacy” says:
“The agency will neither confirm nor deny specifics. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. (Just one zettabyte is the equivalent of about 62 billion stacked iPhones 5′s– that stretches past the moon.”
As an example of what the NSA is capable of, the Blaze, in an article called “NSA Whistleblower Explains Chilling Interview: ‘Everyone in the U.S. Is Under Virtual Surveillance’” notes:
“Binney then discussed the recent resignation of Gen. David Petraeus over an extra-marital affair, and how his private communications were intercepted.
“As far as the actual government goes, [adultery] is not a high crime and misdemeanor here,” co-host Stu Burguiere weighed in. “It’s sort of secondary, and they’ll go to that extent to out somebody who may have had a political issue. That’s frightening.”
Here are two more articles on the Bluffdale “Spy Center”; one called “Is the NSA building a $800 million data center to spy on Americans? Utah desert facility code-named Bumblehive ‘will monitor emails of U.S. citizens’” and another called “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”.
Here is an article on NSA whistleblower William Binney from the NY Times whistleblower, as well as two videos with Thomas Drake and William Binney.
I have seen different reports of this over the last few years, but here is a good article from the Seattle Times called “Even if they’re off, cellphones allow FBI to listen in”
“The FBI converted the Nextel cellphones of two alleged New York mobsters into “roving bugs,” microphones that relayed conversations when the phones seemed to be inactive, according to recent court documents.
Authorities won’t reveal how they did this. But a countersurveillance expert said Nextel, Motorola Razr and Samsung 900 series cellphones can be reprogrammed over the air, using methods meant for delivering upgrades and maintenance. It’s called “flashing the firmware,” said James Atkinson, a consultant for the Granite Island Group in Massachusetts.”
As if that weren’t creepy enough, here is an article from the New York Times called Build Up Your Phone’s Defenses Against Hackers
“Chuck Bokath would be terrifying if he were not such a nice guy. A jovial senior engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta, Mr. Bokath can hack into your cellphone just by dialing the number. He can remotely listen to your calls, read your text messages, snap pictures with your phone’s camera and track your movements around town — not to mention access the password to your online bank account.”
Believe me, if the good guys can think of this, you had better believe that Joe Dirtbag can as well.
Here is a video from CNN where the host is interviewing a former FBI agent. He claims that when it comes to national security, “there is a way to listen to all digital communications in the past”. That means that all digital communications are stored and may be pulled if needed.
I have nothing to hide. The only “offense” I might occasionally commit is going a bit over the speed limit. So why does all of this concern me? Partly because of how the IRS was used to target Tea Party and other conservative groups. There have been accusations from different people in Washington calling veterans, fundamentalist Christians and “far-right-wingers” potential terrorists. I am sure that at some point I have said something on or near a cell phone, written something online via a forum or email that, if taken out of context, could paint me in a negative light. The fact that the Attorney General has stated the President has full authority to use drone strikes on Americans, on American soil, against potential terrorists, also has me a bit concerned.
Don’t get me wrong. I like technology as much as the next guy. But it has come at a great cost. If you’re “plugged in”, there is no such thing as privacy and yes, Big Brother is watching!
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