Who’s Peaking Through Your Window?

These days, you might want to ask who isn’t watching – the list is shorter.

Cameras on every street corner, satellites orbiting the earth that can see you picking your nose in the privacy of your back yard, drone mosquitoes (truth or fiction, I’ll let you decide that for yourself). Security cameras, dash cams, cell phones, you’d be hard pressed to do anything where there isn’t someone, somewhere who has got it on camera. Sorry to get all Snowdon on you, but this stuff gives me the creeps. We are living out George Orwell’s 1984, it’s just been a little later in coming than he prophesied.

Over 80% of Americans now rely on cell phones for all or most of their communications but, whether calling or texting, this is NOT a secure mode of communication. But, frankly, landlines are really no more secure these days. We all need to accept the fact that we now live in a world where a person with the right motivation can hack into just about any of our communications, and they won’t be bothering to get a court order to do it.

I remember how shocked I was the first time I called my cable provider and found that they essentially could see each and every website I was visiting, which just begged the question for me, could they see what I was doing when I was on that site, whether it be having a conversation with someone, watching a video or purchasing a product with my credit card?

Have you ever wondered just how much of the information you put out there on the internet is captured? Again, I think the shorter answer would be what ISN’T being captured. Have you ever been searching online for an item and then, like a miracle, all of the ad banners on future sites are targeted to that search? Well, we all know that American commerce will not let that sale slip away so easily, so we shouldn’t be surprised but, what makes us think that they are just capturing our web searches? For those of us who are still living in the land of Naivete, I have news for you. Sites are getting more and more bold about saving your credit card information without your permission.  The last purchase I made, the site had captured the card number, the expiration date AND the security code. How convenient. On this same site, I ran into something else that I found EXTREMELY troublesome. I was renting a house for a vacation and AFTER I completed the transaction, they insisted on me verifying my account (for the safety and peace of mind of the person who owned the property, of course). That entailed one of two things, either sending them a copy of your driver’s lic. or passport or answering a set of questions that only I could answer. I had no desire to share my license or passport with them so I opted for the questions. I was stunned. The series of questions included things like where I lived in 1975, what car I drove 10 years ago, what street I lived on in a certain time frame and where I went to school. Basically, this website knew as much or more about me than my closest friends. Please tell me that I am not the only one who finds this INCREDIBLY disturbing.

What may even be worse is that people are actively being encouraged to divulge this sort of sensitive information about themselves. Personally, I can’t think of any good reason why I should make my legal birthdate available just so that I can join a social media site or why I would ever give my social security number or credit card account number just for the convenience of checking my bank balance online. We are being encouraged to submit more and more personal information online and we are being desensitized into thinking that it is normal to do so. And we are being encouraged to do so by the very companies that should be committed to keeping that information private.

Think of the magnitude of this. It goes so much further than where you live and what your phone number is (only a few years ago, these were what I considered to be the two most important information items to protect).  Today, there are countless companies, presuming they are even legitimate companies, who know your age, your birthdate, where you live, where you work, where you shop and bank, what your purchasing habits are, what kind of vehicles you drive, what property you own, who you associate with etc, etc, etc. I can only think of about a million ways that this kind of rampant information gathering could go bad for us, what about you?

I welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences on this or anything else I’ve posted here.

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