About a year and a half ago, I got a new laptop. It was something of a struggle to find one that wasn’t pre-loaded with Windows 10, but we succeeded. And the first thing I did – almost literally, the first thing – was to put a double piece of tape over the tiny webcam built into the machine.
Call me paranoid, but the thought of having an electronic eye focused on me is just creepy.
Nor do we own smart phones. How many millions – or is it billions by now? – of people are walking around with personal GPS trackers in their pockets, leaving cyber trails everywhere they go?
Don’t believe me? Consider this YouTube video which tells how a representative from Snoopwall learned 500 million people (half a billion!!) are infected with a spy virus on their smart phones through their flashlight app and are entirely unaware of it. The top 10 flashlight apps downloadable from Google are all malware that transfer names, addresses, credit card info, banking info, family photos, videos, GPS location, as well as whatever info you have on friends and relatives. These data primarily go to China, India and Russia.
Creeped out yet?
Last year, a Washington Post article detailed just how much spying and tracking is taking place on a routine basis. Virtually all means of travel is monitored through cameras, license-plate recognition software, facial recognition software and other methods. This takes place in airports and airplanes, train stations, buses, car services, toll payment systems, through surveillance cameras on streets and in stores, as well as “the rising use of overhead surveillance, from airplanes, drones, and aerostats, those blimp-like craft floating above some border areas.”
Even a walk in the woods doesn’t work, especially if you have that ubiquitous smart phone with you.
But we’re not supposed to be paranoid. After all, “they” are not specifically looking for us. As the article explains, “Bear in mind that all these systems operate passively, continuously, even if nobody is looking for you.”
Unless you’re in Scotland, of course, where the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act permits legal spying on Scottish citizens, resulting in massive (but secretive) dossiers on every family. But don’t worry, it’s (drumroll) for the children.
And if “they” are indeed looking for you, be afraid: “If you are an actual target of the authorities,” notes the Washington Post article, “– be it your government or somebody else’s – there are even more powerful tools available. Surveillance companies sell malicious software to install on smartphones for tracking locations, browsing your e-mail and activating video cameras and microphones.”
But that’s not all. Apparently there’s a “smart” mattress cover in development called “Luna” that will turn out the lights for you when you go to sleep, and get coffee ready for you when you wake up. “Data is stored on the smart mattress cover itself, and then sent to Luna for storage and analysis,” notes the article. Analysis of what?? Ewww, creepy.
Or how about kitchen appliances? Who can live without their Internet-connected refrigerator which promises to “open up a world of interactive communication and entertainment”? Interactive communication with what? Your condiments? Last night’s leftover meatloaf?
Even children’s toys are not immune. There’s a new version of Barbie that interacts with children: “The tech-enhanced version of the classic toy will be equipped with a microphone so that it can pick up the audio from what kids are saying. The words will then be transmitted back to a cloud server where the speech will be recorded and processed so Barbie can respond.”
So let me get this straight. Parents introduce a doll into their home that records conversations – all conversations, not just your kids’ – which are then transmitted to a cloud server and the recorded speech is then “processed” so Barbie can respond. And no one sees the scope of potential abuse in this scenario? (“Hi! I’m Rat Fink Barbie!”)
The latest insanity, of course, is this ridiculous Pokémon GO game. Harmless, you say? Even beneficial, as it gets the electronically addicted outdoors for once? Not so fast. Putting aside the idiocy of people walking into traffic or violating private property while searching for these little Pokémon creatures, we now learn there may be a darker side to the game: mapping of interior spaces. As in, your house.
In this video (warning: some bad language), a man explains how the Pokémon GO game works to gather information wherever the player goes – including indoors. Google opens a smart phone’s camera at parts of the game, scans the room the player is in, and sends it to Google.
“This is the best way Google is now getting a complete map of our house inside,” noted the speaker. “In one year, Google is going to be able to see every single inch, every single place inside and outside, because of this game. … No one’s thinking about this. We’re just opening our camera and recording our rooms, and sending it to Google.”
If you’re not creeped out by this point, congratulations. You’ve been successfully assimilated.
I’m perfectly aware digital spying and electronic tracking are inescapable. I’m online; therefore, I’m tracked. My philosophy, however, is not to volunteer any more information, or at least any more than I have to.
Invasive technology has become so normal, people have stopped questioning it. This leads me to ask: What possible advantages could electronic addictions and invasive technology provide? I can only come up with one conclusion: It’s beneficial to have a population of dumb, incoherent, addicted citizens. It’s so helpful when people drug themselves rather than having someone hogtie them to administer a dosage.
You see, dumb addicted people don’t question things. They’re too busy being dumb and addicted.
If I were conspiracy-minded – and I’m not – I might start postulating that all this smart technology’s end result is to dumb us down to the point of utter dependency. After all, a population that can’t glance up from a miniature screen long enough to notice political scandals or the erosion of our constitutional rights won’t even notice when they’ve transitioned from free American citizen into zombie drones. They’ll vote for whatever politician promises them their next electronic fix.
In other words, while I don’t believe our government intentionally caused electronic addiction, it certainly benefits from it. And as anyone with a brain not buried in a smartphone knows, when something is beneficial to government, we get more of it (whether it’s good for us or not).
As the saying goes, “If the service is free, you’re the product.”
The government doesn’t want smart people. It wants dumb slaves. Just something to think about next time you play Pokémon GO and voluntarily send Google the inside of your house.
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