The impending death of the last shreds of our privacy?

Two reports have made me seriously wonder whether ordinary people care any longer about the last shreds of privacy remaining to them. The first report, ” Silicon Valley’s final frontier for mobile payments — ‘the neoliberal takeover of the human body’ “, examines the use of physical features and attributes as a payment mechanism. Biometric mobile wallets – payment technologies using our faces, fingerprints or retinas – already exist.  Notable technology companies including Apple and Amazon await a day when a critical mass of consumers is sufficiently comfortable walking into a store and paying for goods without a card or device …

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Yet more proof that we have no privacy whatsoever in public

This article dates from 2016, but I’m sure things have only gotten worse since then. The NSA and the GCHQ are able to intercept data from passengers traveling on board commercial aircrafts. . . . At the end of 2012, in a presentation, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA … disclosed a ‘top secret strap’, the term used for the highest level of classification, the content of the Southwinds programme, set up to gather all the activity, voices and data, metadata and content of the calls on board aircraft. The zone was still restricted to the regions

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What Google/Amazon/Facebook/ know about you – and what to do about it

Axios has a very interesting series of articles illustrating what major online service providers know about you.  They include the following, so far: What Amazon knows about you What Facebook knows about you What Google knows about you What the internet knows about you What Tesla knows about you Here’s a brief excerpt from the first article, to whet your appetite. Depending on how much you shop, watch and read with Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth may know more about you than any other company on earth. The big picture: Naturally, they know what you’ve browsed or bought on their main service. They

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Data: defining ourselves by what we do

A very interesting article by Jacob Ward points out that privacy, as such, is no longer the critical issue for us:  rather, it’s the data about us accumulated by service providers that results in the effective demolition of any concept of “privacy” as such. Facebook and other companies may very well be protecting your privacy — but they don’t need your personal information to determine exactly who you are and what you’ll do next. . . . First, understand that privacy and data are separate things. Your privacy — your first and last name, your Social Security number, your online credentials — is the

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Looks like we’ll pay to have our privacy invaded – whether we want to or not

Eric Peters points out the downside to all these new-fangled car gadgets and systems. There is a saying that goes, if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. But what if you’re paying for it – and you’re still the product? Welcome to your next new car – previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas earlier this month – in which you’ll be surrounded by new technology designed to “monetize” everything from your musical preferences (it knows which stations you like) to where you like to go (it keeps track of where and when) and what you like to eat. . .

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The downside of electronic drivers licenses

Miguel at Gun Free Zone made a good point yesterday. Many states are now offering electronic drivers licenses, downloaded to your cellphone.  The idea is that if you need to identify yourself (say, during a traffic stop, or when voting), you simply call up the license and hand your cellphone to the nice officer. That, right there, may be a problem if you’ve been stopped in the course of a law enforcement function.  You’ve just handed the officer your unlocked, fully accessible cellphone.  If you’re arrested, the officer can now skim through anything and everything stored on that phone.  (It may or may not

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Improving your online privacy

I’ve written several times in the past about the threat to privacy and private information posed by the Internet and social media companies who see us as the product they sell to others, to be exploited for their greatest advantage.  That’s why I’m still not active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any of the other big names in social media.  The only one I use is Gab, and they guarantee the privacy of their members, making it a much safer environment. If you’ve wondered how to improve or safeguard your online privacy, there are ways.  Many of them have been

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“Smart” gadgets versus your privacy and security

I’ve had a few things to say about the so-called “Internet of Things“, and how it threatens our personal privacy and security.  Any moderately competent hacker can use such devices as a way to spy on us.  However, it now appears that the authorities are doing the same thing, by forcing the providers of such devices to hand over what they record.  Worse still, the companies in the field are not very helpful in letting their customers know about such issues. A decade ago, it was almost inconceivable that nearly every household item could be hooked up to the internet. These

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When “fake news” and gossip kills people

Way back, in the first year of this blog, I described how township gossip led to the death of a friend, in the most horrific and ghastly way imaginable.  It remains one of my most painful memories. Now comes news that unfounded rumor has led to two more deaths, just as ghastly. Ricardo Flores’ goal was to study hard, become a lawyer and earn enough so that his parents could return from the United States — the destination of multitudes from this impoverished corner of south-central Mexico. . . . That dream came to a violent end one afternoon last month after

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