Americans, Everything You Do Is Monitored
When President Obama talked about a transparent administration during the run up
to the 2008 election most Americans assumed he was talking about openness in government
dealings. Obviously, this is not the case, as evidenced by the administrations
handling of the universal health care legislation which was passed without a single
American having had a chance to read it for 72 hours before a vote as the President
promised would be the case with all legislation, refusal to release photographic
evidence of the Osama Bin Laden raid, the Presidents own birth certificate which has
taken two years to be made public, and the many secret meetings held with Congressional
members behind closed doors.
It should be clear by now that Big Governments domestic surveillance
policies under Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are being furthered expanded by Mr.
Obama. Transparency, it seems, had nothing to do with making government more visible. It
did, however, have everything to do with making your life more transparent.
Before we itemize the many ways in which youre being watch, surveyed,
monitored and aggregated, this latest report by Alex Thomas of The Intel Hub reiterates, yet again, that digital
surveillance capabilities are not just isolated to intelligence agencies:
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Aarons, a huge furniture rent
to buy company, used software and a special device on their computers that enabled them to
spy on PC renters.
According to the lawsuit, the company is able to track keystrokes and snap webcam
pictures in the home of their customers.
Brian and Crystal Byrd, the couple who filed the lawsuit, claim that they were
never told about these intrusive spying measures.
While computer privacy experts agree that Aarons has the right to install
devices that enable them to shut down the computers remotely, customers must be told that
they are being monitored.
The couple only found out about the spying after an Aarons employee showed
them a picture of Brian Byrd that was taken remotely while the Byrds were in their home.
After they showed us the picture, I, of course, felt violated, Crystal
Byrd said in an interview Monday. There are many times I sat in front of that
computer with barely nothing on. So I didnt know if they had taken lots of pictures
of us or what, reported the Wyoming Tribune.
Brian Byrd also reported that he thinks the picture was shown to him in order to
intimidate him into an easy repossession.
Source: The Intel Hub
While we often hear protests from privacy advocates about government intrusion
into the lives of Americans, what many fail to understand is that its not just the
government. Private businesses like Aarons, as well as large corporate
conglomerates, are themselves engaging in the surveillance of Americans with the
development of products and services specifically for this purpose and often
without the consent of their customers, or, through terms of services agreements that
include dozens of pages of unintelligible fine print.
As modern technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds, just as the merger
of the corporations and the state are occurring within political circles, so to
are they becoming more prevalent in the intelligence sphere.
Fellow Americans, everything you do is being monitored.
With respect to the government, its not by choice. However, when dealing
with private businesses, we have readily accepted our own fate by accepting into our lives
the very technologies that make it all possible.
- What You Do Online Is No Secret: As you sit in the perceived
privacy of your own home reading this article, a log of your surfing habits and preferred
reading or video viewing subjects is being created. Your IP address, that unique
identifier the points specifically to the broadband line connected to your home modem, is
time stamped with every web site you visit. Everything you watch at video web sites,
everything you download online, and even your search queries are logged. You dont
even have to have an account with a major online service provider your IP is
sufficient but that user account you create is used to further improve your
personal profile and characteristics.
- We can see you. We can hear you. Not only are your actions logged,
but if you were deemed a person of interest for whatever reason, that little camera
staring back at you on top of your monitor or that microphone built directly into your PC
can be flipped on for remote surveillance at any time. While Aarons furniture or the
local school district may need to install special software to remotely view what
youre doing in your bedroom, public sector intelligence groups operating on
equipment that is technologically advanced compared to the consumer products of today is
perfectly capable of entering your secure home network and turning on those
video and audio features and youd have absolutely no clue its going on.
- Your cell phone is a mobile monitoring device. Much like your
computer, all modern day cell phones come with cameras. And they all have a microphone. It
is no secret that law enforcement agencies have the ability to easily tap these devices
and listen and watch anything thats going on. This capability is essentially
hard-wired right into the phone. In fact, it has been reported that even if your cell
phone is turned completely off, the microphone can still be remotely activated. The only
known solution is to remove the battery if you want to ensure complete privacy. Sounds
pretty far-fetched doesnt it? Up until two weeks ago, so did the notion that Apple
and Android phones could track and log everywhere you go. We now know that this is exactly
whats happening, and literally, every movement you make is tracked within inches of
your location. A log of everywhere you have been has been logged if your cell phone was in
- Phone Conversation and Email Analysis. If you havent guessed
yet, phones can be dangerous to your personal privacy. In the 1990's, the few alternative
media web sites on the internet often discussed a little know operation in Europe called
Echelon. It was hard core tin foil conspiracy type stuff. You know, the kind where
intelligence agencies were plugged into the entire phone, fax and email grids and had
computers analyzing conversations in multiple languages looking for keywords and keyword
strings. If you said a specific word, your conversation was immediately red-flagged and
distributed to appropriate intel desks. As sci-fi as this may sound, it turns out that the
conspiracy theorists were 100% correct about Echelon. Its existence has been
confirmed by the US government. Of course, no such system could possibly exist here
- Your pictures are not private. When you snap those photos of the
kids in the front yard and subsequently post those pictures on your favorite social
network, guess what? Thats right, an inquiring viewer on your social networking
account can track exactly where that picture was taken. Remember that location logging
thing with your cell phone? It turns out that every single picture you take with most
newer model cell phones will be tagged with specific GPS coordinates. When you upload that
picture anywhere online, that location information becomes publicly available. So anyone
who wants to know can now track down exactly where it is your kids were when the picture
was taken, or, where exactly you were if you happened to engage in an activity that may be
- The social network. For many, its fun to spend every waking
hour updating the rest of the world on what were doing. We publish our thoughts. We
upload our pictures. We even click a like button at the end of articles like this one to
let people know what were into and what they should be reading. As social networking
becomes bigger, connecting hundreds of millions of people across the world, so to does the
profiling of members of these networks. Have you agreed with what a certain person has
said in a recent post? If theyre a person-of-interest for whatever reason, then
guess what? Youve just become one too. Did your friend recently take a picture of
you at a party getting rowdy? Once that hits the social network, facial recognition
technology will identify you and publish your name for all the world to see, including
current or future employers. Its a social network, and its purpose is to learn
everything about you. Perhaps this is why key U.S. intelligence agencies made no effort to
hide their $5 billion investment in the largest network in the world recently. Social
networking is a critical tool in the struggle to categorize every person on earth.
- Toll tags and license plates. Even if youve given up the
cell phone and prefer to go without for privacy reasons, when you drive around town you
may have noticed those little intersection cameras at least four of them on
every major (or more regularly now, minor) intersection. While most of them may not be
tied to the computer processing systems yet, some, and especially those in sensitive areas
and toll booths can automatically read your license plate. Like your cell phone, your
position can be logged on a regular basis with either your toll tag or simply, your
license plate. Impossible? Not really. Especially when you consider that the information
required to track your personal movements are nothing but a few data bytes. All anyone
really needs to keep extensive records is a bigger hard drive.
- We know your underwear size. Admittedly, we sometimes have a hard
time remembering what size pants or shirts we need to purchase. But while our memory may
be failing, private data aggregators have plenty of it, and the processing power to boot.
Everything you have ever bought with a credit card or membership club card is sent off for
processing and aggregation to centralized data centers. While you may use a Visa card at
one store, a Mastercard at another, and pay cash with a grocery membership card somewhere
else, its as easy as finding your name and cross referencing that on your cards
and your entire shopping profile can be created. The purpose, were told, is
to better improve our shopping experience and provide market data to companies so that
they can improve their advertising. We can only guess at who else has access to this
information, which happens to be very easily accessible and widely available for a small
- Radio Frequency Identification. Say youve decided to scrap
cell phones, internet surfing and electronic payment or membership cards. And, you choose
to walk everywhere you go. Not a problem for enterprising surveillance technologists.
Large retail distributors have already begun implementing RFID technologies into every
major product on store shelves. For now, most of the RFID tracking is limited to
transportation and inventory control and is designed to track products on the pallet
level. Tracking capabilities are improving, however, and are quickly being implemented on
the individual product level. That means when you buy a soda at your local grocery store,
an RFID monitoring station will be capable of tracking that soda across the entire city,
with the goal eventually being whether or not you put that aluminum can in a trashcan or a
recycle bin once you were finished drinking it. One day, you may be issued a ticket by a
law enforcement computer autmatically for failing to dispose of your trash properly.
Again, its simply an issue of hard drive space and processing power and
technology will soon get over that hurdle. All electronics, clothing, food packaging, and
just about everything else will soon contain a passive RFID chip.
- Ripping Data Off Your Private, Secure, chip-enhanced personal
identification cards. Passports, drivers licenses, credit cards, cell
phones they all store data. Personal data like banking information, birth date,
social security numbers, pictures, phone books basically everything youve
ever wanted to keep private. As storage technology further integrates into our daily
lives, and everything from our passports to our health insurance cards contains a digital
chip that stores our private information, it will become much easier to rip that data from
your purse or wallet without ever touching you. A recent report indicated that local law
enforcement officials now have devices that, when youre pulled over, can remotely
pull all of the data on your cell phone. This demonstrates how simple it is for anyone, be
it law enforcement or criminals, to gain access to everything about you including
you personal travel habits.
- Eye in the sky. Weve previously reported about domestic drone programs in Houston and Miami. Local and state law enforcement
agencies are increasingly adding Federal and military technologies to their surveillance
arsenals. Drones have the capability of flying quietly and at high altitude, while
monitoring multiple targets simultaneously. Its been reported that domestic drones
can not only monitor in the visible light spectrum, but night vision and infrared. That
means they can see what youre doing in your home behind closed doors.
Incidentally, there have been reports of roaming ground patrols with similar infrared
technology, capable of seeing right through your walls. This is not science fiction
this is reality right now. Combine this with real-time spy agency satellites and
interested parties have the ability to see and hear you, even when youre locked
indoors with computers and cell phones disabled.
- Security cameras. Weve already discussed traffic cams. But
cameras are not limited to just the government. Residences, retailers and even day cares
are now interconnecting camera security systems with online web browsing. And, as we
pointed out earlier, these are easily subject to unauthorized access. Certain cities in
the US are now allowing residents to register their personal or business camera systems
with the city to allow for local police monitoring. The government doesnt need to
push the technology on us. The people willingly accept the technology en masse in exchange
for a sense of being more secure.
- I See Something! When all else fails, the last bastion of
surveillance is human intel. Its been used by oppressive regimes
for millennia. The Nazis used it. The Communists used it (and do to this day). It was
very effective. And now, were using it. Remember, if you See Something, Say
Something. Even if what someone sees is not accurately represented because
of mis-perception, you can be assured that when they say something rapid response
units will be on the scene to diffuse the situation.
Fusing It All Together
What is the purpose ? It depends who you ask.
Local law enforcement will tell you its to protect the safety of the public.
Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies say its to prevent terrorism.
Apple and Android tells us its so that they can produce better mobile products and
services. Retailers want more customer data so they can improve advertising and marketing.
Whatever the case, its clear that almost everything we do, whether its
in the privacy of our own homes or on public streets, can be tracked, monitored, and
As technology improves and the internet interconnects even more nodes, the
information collected by the public, private and personal sectors will be further
aggregrated, cross referenced and analyzed. Your personal profile will become more
detailed, including your shopping habits, hobbies, likes, dislikes, political affiliation,
reading preferences, friends, and potentially your psychological and emotional status.
All of this information will eventually be fused into one large database. In fact,
the government has already setup well over fifty fusion centers around the
nation. What goes on in these centers is kept strictly confidential, and there
doesnt seem to be any agency in charge of them, but we know they exist, and we know
that their purpose is to acquire, aggregate and act on whatever information they have
available to them. These are fairly new, appearing just over the last several years. But
be assured that as processing power and software technology improves, so too will the
surveillance capabilities of fusion like facilities, whether they belong to government,
private industry or criminal industry.
History has shown what tends to happen in surveillance societies. Often times,
that surveillance is forced upon the people by tyranical government. We wont argue
that this is not the case today, as governments the world over are not hiding the fact
that they want to know what everyone is doing. The odd thing is, we the people dont
seem to care a whole lot. What were seeing is that the surveillance state is
expanding in concert with the definitions for what is criminal or terrorist-like activity
and thats scary. Every year, more people are finding themselves on no-fly
lists, no-work lists, or other terrorist watch lists. Weve
facetiously noted in a previous commentary that at this rate, the terrorist watch list will exceed the U.S. population by 2019. While we
were, for the most part, trying to put a humorous spin on an otherwise very important
issue, the fact is, that as surveillance expands, more and more people will become enemies
of the state or persons-of-interest. Thats just how these things tend to work with
these types of things.
In todays world, the private sector is ready and willing to help government
achieve these goals of total control and involvement in our personal lives. In fact, it is
at times becoming difficult to distinguish between government and private industry.
But if we are to lay blame on anyone here, it must be ourselves. We need only take
a look into the mirror and well see who makes these technologies possible. Its
the American consumer who willingly adopts the technologies into his or her daily life,
often standing in lines a quarter mile long to acquire the latest in digital monitoring.
While our votes at the ballot box account for something, how we vote with our
pocket books will ultimately determine the direction of our country. We have empowered the
corporation to lobby Congress and further erode our own freedoms, whether its with
the surveillance technologies we choose to integrate into our lives, the food we buy, the
cheap Chinese goods well stampede children over, or the gas we pump into our
The problem is not government. Its us. Weve let it go this far. It can
only change when the individual does. (SHTFplan.com,
5.05.2011, Mac Slavo) http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/americans-everything-you-do-is-monitored_05052011
"The two enemies of the people are criminals and
government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the
second will not become the legalized version of the first." Thomas Jefferson