The other day I shopped on-line for a specialty dog collar. I used Amazon and Google. When I was done I went to the Drudge Report, and low and behold, I was seeing dog collar ads. I then went to AOL, read an article, and was confronted with more dog collar ads. Later, using Google for research, more dog collar ads. Same thing with Facebook, dog collar ads were abundant. Here, there and everywhere, I was surrounded with ads pressing me to buy a dog collar.
This is not an unusual occurrence. If you use the internet, your being tracked. Where you go and what you do is being captured, and bought and sold by a variety of different businesses. It doesn’t matter if your shopping, researching, or having fun with social media, someone or something is tracking every keystroke. If you use free e-mail, that too is monitored. Virtually everything you do on the internet is being monitored, with the possible exception of anything purposely encrypted, and there are ways around that too.
Your devices, cellphones, smart TV’s, Alexa, and other common household electronics have the potential to look at you or record whatever is being said in their proximity. Your laptop’s camera can spy on you when your using it, or in the same room when it is on. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and other social media programs can take hold of your devices and watch and hear your activities. In fact James Comey himself said that he tapes over his laptop camera and the camera on his phone for this very reason.
If you use credit or debit cards, you bank is disseminating your information about your balances, purchases, and your credit worthiness. Grocery stores have customer loyalty programs that track your purchases, hotels have loyalty programs that track your travels, as do airlines. Most everything you do in life is being tracked by one organization or another.
The government even spies on you. The NSA was outed by Edward Snowden, who let us know that they had a bulk storage site full of servers storing cellphone conversations, social media activity, and internet use on virtually every American. To date the NSA says that they curtailed that program, but who really knows? A spy organization caught spying, telling us they won’t do it again. That promise has a credibility issue.
Needless to say this wired society that we live in has its benefits, but many of us do not consider the downsides to this massive intrusion on our privacy. We are being spied on every minute of every day. People and organizations now have the ability to profile us in ways that were impossible just a few short years ago. Our government has been monitoring what we write and say. In this electronic age, we have nowhere to hide, and we are vulnerable to powers that have the technical means to either make our lives better, or to take control of our lives and make it much worse.
Where did our right to privacy go? The right to privacy is alluded to in the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath … Are the conduct of internet companies and the government upholding the 4th Amendment, or have we as a society abdicated the right to privacy in order to enjoy the convenience of modern technology? Is the convenience worth the possible cost? Time will tell…..