Diablog is about the good things in life. And here comes one of the best:
The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.…Everything is now being saved and correlated, and many big-data companies make money by building up intimate profiles of our lives from a variety of sources.Facebook, for example, correlates your online behavior with your purchasing habits offline. And there’s more. There’s location data from your cell phone, there’s a record of your movements from closed-circuit TVs.
This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it’s efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.
…This isn’t something the free market can fix. We consumers have no choice in the matter. All the major companies that provide us with Internet services are interested in tracking us. Visit a website and it will almost certainly know who you are; there are lots of ways to be tracked without cookies. Cellphone companies routinely undo the web’s privacy protection. One experiment at Carnegie Mellon took real-time videos of students on campus and was able to identify one-third of them by comparing their photos with publicly available tagged Facebook photos.
Maintaining privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible.
If the director of the CIA can’t maintain his privacy on the Internet, we’ve got no hope.In today’s world, governments and corporations are working together to keep things that way. Governments are happy to use the data corporations collect — occasionally demanding that they collect more and save it longer — to spy on us. And corporations are happy to buy data from governments. Together the powerful spy on the powerless, and they’re not going to give up their positions of power, despite what the people want.Fixing this requires strong government will, but they’re just as punch-drunk on data as the corporations. Slap-on-the-wrist fines notwithstanding, no one is agitating for better privacy laws.So, we’re done. Welcome to a world where Google knows exactly what sort of porn you all like, and more about your interests than your spouse does. Welcome to a world where your cell phone company knows exactly where you are all the time. Welcome to the end of private conversations, because increasingly your conversations are conducted by e-mail, text, or social networking sites.And welcome to a world where all of this, and everything else that you do or is done on a computer, is saved, correlated, studied, passed around from company to company without your knowledge or consent; and where the government accesses it at will without a warrant.
That sounds like a challenge. What do you have to do?
In one simple sentence:
As Mr. Schneier points out, they both are in this together. Happily feeding each other, aside from the little quarrels here and there. So, don’t expect Google, Facebook, Twitter, or any other company to be on your side, when you are saving the internet.
But there is plenty of good news. The best news first:
Mr. Schneier wrote this article as a wake up call. You can count him – and thousands of others – in your corner. Like who?
- The EFF, which just got a Judge to rule National Security Letters by the FBI unconstitutional.
- The ACLU, in persona Christopher Soghoian, who keeps pestering the US government with Freedom of Information Act requests.
- The CCC, Chaos Computer Club, the largest association of hackers in Europe.
- The Free Software Foundation,
- thousands of Linux people,
- Anonymous, WikiLeaks,
- and many, many more.
Here is the next good news:
You can fight politicians, in any way you want, whenever you want. Or you can fight internet corporations. Or both. Let me give you a few examples.
The surveillance – by government and corporations – is based on computers and software. Not people!
If you involve their people, making them work, the system fails. Because the profitability is gone.
You can ask:
– from the comfort of your home
– via email, letter, phone, fax
– all the internet companies you are using, and your cell phone provider, and government agencies
Let them work. Let them tell you. You can make surveillance/tracking an unprofitable business, and a pain in the butt for them. Imagine some 500 Million users asking Facebook for their data records. And then asking them to stop tracking. Mr. Zuckerberg will love you.
As soon as you are spending money, you can vote with it.
You can tell for example Amazon, that you will shop elsewhere, unless they stop tracking you, profiling you, and selling your data. Imagine the customer service rep asking his/her manager for the correct reply.
What about politicians?
You can demand the same from any government body.
What data do they store? Are they selling your data? To whom?
Do you have “balls of steel”? Then this might be up your alley:
Next, you can tell your political representatives – at any level – how you want him/her to vote on those issues. You can ask them, how they intend to vote. You are paying them. You are their boss. Let them know, how you expect them to work/vote for you. Never has it been easier.
If you have more money than time, because the above mentioned takes some time and persistence, you can support the EFF, the ACLU or others.
If you are more of an outdoor person, you can participate in demonstrations.
Our parents or grandparents had to rescue Europe from fascism.
We get to save the internet and ourself from surveillance and spying.
And yes, you will be able to tell your grandkids about it.