Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's worse than we thought

Well, here we are again. We see warnings that it's possible our tech companies can spy on us. Hackers for sure. Any built-in camera or microphone can be used to pry on your privacy by anyone with enough know-how and determination to be that invasive.  There were a few news reports of people that had been violated that way, and it was a scary concept.

Then we hear that our tech companies are being pressed for access to our data by police forces and government agencies. Now at this same time there are reports of the NSA building the biggest facility out in Utah that can gather enough data on all of us to make our heads spin.  Some said they had nothing to hide, the ones that did probably said nothing but thought they could still get around anonymously. 

Then there were all the reassurances that it was just "metadata", numbers, locations and, maybe names, but nothing like contents of emails or phone conversations. Right? Okay, good. We sort of breathed a sigh of relief. Even President Obama said it was just the metadata. We can trust him, right? In all this hunting for terrorists a few rights have to be sacrificed once in a while, right? But we're still good. We'll put everything back when we're done, okay?

Last night I saw a blogger, who had a legal blog, and maybe a law firm, not sure, say after the latest "revelation", that was too much and she could no longer stay online. She was shutting down her website and going offline as much as possible. Groklaw was the name of the blog. Here's the link: Previously two other email services had shut down siting too much surveillance, can't recall their names right now. One of them had to do with Mr. Snowden.

Well, now reports come out about broader surveillance reach by the NSA than was thought before.

Now this is still under the auspices of hunting the bad guys, and that may still be valid, since we're not on real good terms with the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Queda. So a few innocent Americans get caught up in our nets...oops, sorry.

Well, it seems it's not as bad as I first feared when I saw the headline. But unfortunately, the potential for abuse is still there, and we could all be being watched and listened to regardless of what they say. That thought will always be in the back of my mind.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop,

Take care.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Big Brother 2

Okay, yesterday I went on a bit of a reactionary rant about the news reports that the government was watching us and listening to us all the time. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. Maybe it was an exaggerated story just to get us riled up. I'll get back to this idea later.

Now I'm not dismissing the allegations and stories from yesterday, but rather, looking at it with more facts in hand, and other perspectives, in the cold hard light of reality.

The other aspect of this that didn't occur to me was the terror-prevention part. There are people and groups of people that do want to hurt us, kill us, and would love to see this country in flames coast to coast, burnt to the ground with nothing left. A lot of that animosity has been thwarted, some has not. So, I guess in brief, what the government is doing now is the best way to keep us safe. That carries some weight. Maybe it's not the best solution, but it's probably better than nothing. I remember a few years ago seeing reports of buses being blown up in Israel almost weekly. So far, that hasn't happened here.

 My tempered response here comes from a conservative radio broadcast I heard yesterday. Now, I've spent over 20 years in evangelical Christianity, voting republican and counting myself a conservative. I grew up with the idea of America, freedom and liberty from a conservative perspective. Now I'm not involved with the church and I'm in a place where I've been questioning a lot of things and researching a lot of things. I don't think the republicans and conservatives have it all right, but neither do the democrats and liberals. But power and money have corrupted our system. I have more thoughts about that, but later.

Anyways, I keep an ear open to some of the conservative talk-radio folks. I don't agree with them as much as I used to, but sometimes they have some insights and perspectives that make sense. So all the surveillance, for now it is keeping us alive and keeping our country intact. Actually, that is more appealing than having our country be destroyed by those who call us infidel.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Big Brother

This is raw. I am scared by the news that our government is spying on us. I knew this day would come, but it doesn't make the realization any easier.

I read 1984 back in the '70s. It was scary back then. Up until the age of the internet and wifi, it was a bit of a joke. Then, as the internet became more prevalent, and technology began surrounding us more and more, the idea of going off the grid became more of a serious option. When I realized that thought, I began to realize how attached I was to the grid, smartphones, laptops, music players make life so handy. As a Google user I would joke with my family how "Google knows all". Some articles indicated that if it didn't already, it was on a path to. Unsettling.

With the advent of smartphones and laptops, there came the ever-present little camera lens, watching you, and the microphone,   listening to you. There were, and still are stories of people who have been spied on through their laptops doing various things. That's why I don't leave my laptop open when I'm not using it. And now, when I am, I sometimes wonder, who can see me? With my Android smartphone near me almost always, I sometimes wonder, who can hear me and see where I am and have been. Some articles give chilling details of what technology can do with those devices.

Wanting to be naive about those things I would tell myself that it could be a random occurrence, like getting a virus. But now, it's different.

People have said it's Bush's fault with those warrentless wiretaps. This is worse than wiretaps, and Bush ain't in charge anymore. Some can even wonder if Obama is in charge. If Bush opened the door with warrentless wiretaps, Obama kicked it down and the whole rest of the federal government charged in. Probably ran Obama over in the process. Seriously, our government has taken a turn for the worse, and at best it is unsettling.

In our TV shows authorities are able to find various surveillance cams to track stolen cars, abductees,  and bad guys, their assistants appear with phone records at the drop of a hat, (TV magic of course). I reference shows like NCIS and Castle. In the action-adventure movies, the good guys and the bad guys do even more incredible things; mess with the infrastructure, traffic lights, utilities, etc. I reference the movie Live Free or Die Hard. One of my favorites has always been Minority Report. I never saw the movie but not I want to. The scene where Tom Cruise's character is running past the billboards and they start talking directly to him, by name. How far are we from that?

Life seems to imitate art. How do we deal with it? Ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist, or be okay with it since "I don't have anything to hide." Think about it, and the ramifications of it, become uncomfortable and then try to ignore it. Some may want to become politically involved, contacting the government, or protesting the government. Increasingly risky propositions. Or, become healthily paranoid. Maybe not tin-foil hat paranoid, but always aware that your devices can and now are being used without your consent by Big Brother.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Greetings, it's been a while. A lots been going on and going through my head, I can barely keep up. I've been thinking about updating this blog for a while, but not sure how to go about it. What's important and meaningful? Conspiracy theories? Internet privacy and knowing how to hide when you need to?

The government has, and is passing legislation that erodes our online privacy. Makes it easier for other government entities to spy on us. Granted Google knows everything about us from what we tell them, and that our Andriod phones are always on, I know mine is, so they can find me.

Now you can get some privacy when your online, or after you've been online. The simplest is to delete your browser history. IE and Firefox you can set them to delete everything when you close the browser. With Chrome you have to do it manually afterward. And all browsers have a "private" mode, that when you close that window, all records are erased. Nice to know there's a little bit of control in those areas. Thank you IE, Firefox and Google.

Now for more serious security seekers there is a browser called Tor: I've looked at it but haven't tried it. Apparently it bounces your traffic around different places so your IP address is obscured. Another item that is good along with that is Tails: Worth looking into if privacy is really impotent to you.

Conspiracy theories, where to begin? Big government is Big Brother? The Illuminati? The Papal Prophecy? *Sigh* More on this later, I'll try not to make it such a long time.

Until then, take care.