“Listen? Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?”
Those innocent lyrics by The Beatles take on a whole different meaning when you realize just how much is out there about you.
According to documents leaked by former NSA (National Security Agency) systems analyst, Edward Snowden, “the government has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk, and scooping up their emails, browsing history and social-media activity,” PBS Frontline stated in August. Their actions have heightened concerns about online privacy.
NSA says it’s doing so for our protection to prevent terrorism. Any invasion into my personal life bugs me as much as a snoopy store clerk, aka “The World Almanac of Misinformation,” did when I was a teen.
But are we stressing about the government learning too much about us when we already provide so much personal information on our social media sites?
I wasn’t concerned until I recalled the drama, “Enemy of the State” (1998). The movie played on our fears on how much the government can find out about us. It’s not just the government we should be wary of, however, if we want to keep our private lives … private.
Face recognition on social networks is just one creepy intrusion. Want to know where someone has lived in the past 15 to 20 years? You might be surprised to learn how much information is available for public consumption.
For just one thin Washington – or, maybe $3 – some websites promise to reveal much more about you. And, they promise not to tell the person that you’re seeking information about. Yeah, I feel so secure.
Many of us make it easy for them because we post our plans on social media. Planning an exotic vacation abroad? Renovating your home? Or, buying a flat-screen TV? Information is currency to the “friends of your friends” who, sometimes, are not friends at all.
No need to post a map to your residence. Google and MapQuest can provide that for whoever wants to visit while you’re gone.
This summer, I did something I rarely do. I posted photos of my family on Facebook. Before I could name the people in the photo, I realized Facebook had already identified two of them. FB got the info from photos I tagged in my own profile.
That rattled my smugness about security. It made me think of Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) in “Enemy of the State.” He plays an attorney who is in a lingerie shop looking for a gift for his wife when he bumps into an old friend, Daniel Zavitz (Jason Lee).
Zavitz, who is being pursued by NSA agents, drops a video cartridge of a politically motivated murder into Dean’s shopping bag – without Dean’s knowledge – and flees. Zavitz doesn’t get far. He’s struck and killed by a fire truck.
NSA agents don’t find the evidence on Zavitz, but they zero in on Dean when they find the attorney’s card in Zavitz’s pocket. By a click of a surveillance tape, NSA identifies Dean. They try to get the “sensitive material” from Dean who has no idea what they’re talking about. Then his life is turned upside down.
Dean’s reputation is smeared. He is fired from his law firm. His wife has kicked him out and he discovers his credit cards have been stolen.
As Dean quickly discovers, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
Private Eyes are watching you. They see your every move. A scary notion. That song by Hall & Oates should be a cautionary tale. Don’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want the whole world to know.
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Photo: Facial Recognition and Identification Initiatives – Author: Vorder Bruegge http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/Vorder_Bruegge-Facial-Recognition-and-Identification-Initiatives.pdf/page1-576px-Vorder_Bruegge-Facial-Recognition-and-Identification-Initiatives.pdf.jpg
Photo: Surveillance – Swiss European surveillance: facial recognition and vehicle make, model, color and license plate reader. In Germany and Switzerland you cannot drive anywhere without the “authorities” tracking you and logging your movement for future reference. Taken Jan. 7, 2008. Original uploader was Maraparacc at en.wikipedia http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/Surveillance_equipment_5411.jpg/640px-Surveillance_equipment_5411.jpg
Music Video: Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Private Eyes” (1981) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anLfoy2XsFw
Photo – Area 51 – restricted area – Author: Ivank888, July 2, 2013 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/Area-51.jpg/524px-Area-51.jpg