Anybody that went to school before condoms were applied to cucumbers in class should remember George Orwell’s iconic dystopian novel “1984” featuring the fictional character of “Big Brother,” a literary representation for the mass surveillance of individuals by a decidedly abusive or tyrannical government.

Beyond the surveillance activities of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies, we are now finding out that surveillance activities which are prohibited by law are being outsourced to corporations which have little supervision or oversight and which are thoroughly infiltrated by former government agents as well as representatives of our enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Starting with old-fashioned paper-based credit bureaus, certain institutions, ostensibly under the watchful eye of the government, began collecting data about individuals ostensibly to remove the friction of commerce when extending credit to both individuals and corporations. The old-fashioned credit bureaus have gone far beyond their original function and morphed into secretive collectors of published and non-published personal information, much of which has been synthetically derived from matching data elements to individuals using keys such as names, addresses, locations, date of birth, and more specific keys such as Social Security numbers, drivers’ and professional license numbers.

Then came a unique master key, the GUID – Globally Unique IDentifier -- which is generated by most digital electronic devices and embedded in most computer text, audio, video files. In some cases, printed in near-invisible coding on printed matter by today’s modern printers. In a number of cases, the GUID is linked to a specific individual by registration (think warranties) or by scanning the individual’s files – ostensibly to provide a “better customer experience” or targeted advertising in return for “free” services.

And now we are faced with the “internet of things.” Devices that can surreptitiously surveil your activities and transmit the data over hidden electronic pathways to third-parties, known and unknown.

Consider General Motor’s OnStar system which was sold as a safety and convenience feature. Monitoring your car’s mechanical status and performance, providing driving directions, allowing you to communicate via mobile phone, aiding in stolen car location, door unlocking, and providing emergency notifications in case of breakdowns or crashes. With an embedded microphone and speaker (which can be used as a microphone), we were assured that OnStar could not be used to listen to your private conversations.

Until a drug dealer in Nevada went to court and the government was forced to admit they used OnStar to listen to conversations and track locations – under a secret warrant.

So what is different about today …

You may be contacted as a potential witness, linked to a crime by your electronic device in close proximity to a crime.

Your device may be commandeered to spy on other third parties. Consider the latest use of doorbell cams and home surveillance devices being used with the police to track package thieves or provide evidence in civil or criminal matters.

Consider that Ring, a provider of video doorbell devices, is creating a “social network” of devices that may serve as a “neighborhood watch” function – and is willing to provide captured information to the more than 50 police departments which have partnered with Ring. You may not even be aware that your security system is being used without your permission.

Even worse, you may be agreeing to surveillance and the sale of your information to unknown third-parties when you agree to the unilateral terms of the ubiquitous terms of use agreement which protects companies from the consequences of even intentional evil acts by the company, its employees, agents, and affiliates.

And, it may be more than our government watching …

In the news…

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel urged the FBI and CIA to investigate whether Google has been infiltrated by the Chinese during his remarks at the National Conservatism Conference on Sunday.

Thiel, who sits on the board of Facebook, suggested that Google’s decision to work with the Chinese military is “treasonous” and likely occurred because the company’s management has been compromised by Chinese intelligence. He suggested three questions that the authorities might pose to Google executives to expose Beijing’s infiltration.

Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI (artificial intelligence)?” Thiel asked, according to Axios. “Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?”

“Number three, is it because they consider themselves to be so thoroughly infiltrated that they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military,” he added. <Source>

Bottom line …

The government no longer has to maintain their own surveillance schemes and databases, as other third-parties will legally do it for them.

Consider that the users of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are voluntarily creating a near real-time dossier of their life – even if it is a somewhat flawed or false portrayal. It will be up to you to prove yourself a liar or deny your “intent” should false information be used to impeach your testimony or imprison you based on your own words. And, of course, your electronic devices are neutral, unimpeachable witnesses to your actions.

If the electronic record is created and retained, someone can go to court and get that information. 

For those of you who believe that your provider has"anonymized" your data by removing your name and account number, just consider that -- knowing the start point and end point of your travels is likely to be your garage or driveway. Yes, in spite of protestations, “they” know who you are, what you are doing, and in many cases, can be there waiting for you.

We are so screwed.

-- steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell