By John Schroeder June 2014
Snowden, NSA, PRISM, Target, Neiman Marcus…
Everywhere we look our “privacy” is being compromised.
However, the crucial question is how much privacy do we really have?
Now granted, when you cough up a credit/debit card for a POS sale at any store, you have done nothing to invite having that data compromised. You’re simply trying to transact a transaction so the retailer can be paid and you can pay the bill. It’s business as usual. It’s all very fair straight forward. Moreover, you never clicked on an “agreement” which said your data might not be secure and could be stolen by third parties.
That said, these credit card information breeches are inexcusable. They should never have happened. It’s simply a total breech of your trust.
And, you are quite justified in asking why such data was ever stored in the first place.
Eventually, there will be a lot of excuses made about getting marketing data so they can send you custom advertisements or it will slow things down at the check stands (not that people applying for a store credit card in the checkout line doesn’t already slow things down…and heaven forbid, they’d open more check stands)…
You get the idea.
Make no mistake the problem is a reluctance to spend money on security.
The scapegoating will be high (a high level person will be fired or will resign – – the CEO of Target has already resigned) but ultimately it will never reach the folks who wanted to have that data in the first place or question their motivation much less their successes in having such data. Those people will never be blamed or called to really account for their successfulness in having such data.
Now, we get to talking about those places where you have “specifically waived” your privacy rights.
The bottom line is that you could be waiving whatever privacy you might have.
And, if that’s the case, why should you complain?
However, sometimes when you read those agreements you might be giving up more than you ever could have intended much less imaged. Sadly some of these “agreements” have included statements that the CONTENT of your data is transferred to them. That would mean if you wrote a novel using one of their document applications, you may have granted them ownership of the content of your documents and therefore ownership your novel.
Now, let’s turn our attention to phone calls records.
The people that provide our phone service are recording our call to destinations for billing purposes. This has been going on since phones were invented. And that means this data exists whether we like it or not. And, therefore, it can be discovered or otherwise revealed.
Bottom line is that you make a phone call, information about that call is going to be recorded and at some point that information might be revealed. Now, that’s the easy side of things. It’s simply record-keeping by your provider and it’s subject to being divulged, hacked, or discovered by others.
However, the unanswered question is whether anyone is “listening” on the broadcasting CONTENT of our cell phone calls and whether that information can be intercepted and recorded.
This IS the REAL difficult question.
Accusation have been leveled at US surveillance in Europe and accusing them of intercepting business messages (in the air) and then turning that information over to US competitors.
I guess we need to stay tuned for the determination/revelation that surveillance technology exists that can “sniff data out of the air” while it’s in transit; meaning that your conversations could be “recorded” simply because they are “in the air.” And of course, the same could be said of your email or banking transactions.
My strong guess is that such technology exists and is probably being used.
And, there’s a larger question about whether such transmissions “in the air” are privacy protected?
I do realize that anyone intercepting such calls (or data transmissions) of mine would be a complete waste of time and anyone listening or intercepting such calls or transmissions would be totally bored listening to me talk about my trip to Alaska much less enjoying any fuzzy and out of focus pictures I might send to a loved one so they’d appreciate and be jealous of my boring time.
In other words … YAWN to any spy who is spying on me.
Nevertheless, when the Patriot Act was first proposed (and that Act is the source of all the current controversy), I flashed back on the Church Hearings from the 1970’s. These were the post-Watergate revelations about abuses by the US Intelligence agencies. These agencies, under the guise of “looking for subversives,” simply did anything they wanted. And the scope of their snooping and the extremes of some of their plans were frightening and ultimately viewed as historically unnecessary.
I figured the same thing about the Patriot Act; it was simply a license to snoop and snoopy people would take advantage of it and run it to extremes.
That means I’m not surprised about any excess taking place.
Although we learned a lot from the Church Hearings, there was a glaring lack of accountability after the fact. Nobody was ever punished.
I had hoped that the Patriot Act would have at least addressed accountability in advance but it didn’t. That means that as we uncover excess after excess; no “heads are going to roll.”
Still, it would have been very simple: “Snoop outside the law and YOU go to jail.”
So what are we going to do? Go back to “land lines” which still (BTW) also transmit our phone conversations “through the air?”
Are we going to go back to paying bills by check rather than online?
Are we going to go back to making banks physically handle every check rather than let merchants scan, send, and destroy our checks?
Are we going to go back to the “green stuff” with no ATM machines?
We’ve all become too addicted to the technology which makes everyone’s life easier and, at least to listen to the supporters of that technology, do reduce costs.
However, we have to move along with “eyes wide open.” This means we recognize our use of technology is risky. We recognize a herd mentality to realize that there is safety in numbers. We recognize that we will deal with compromises as they occur and/or happen.
In short, we continue to do business as usual.