Login

Consumer tracking is everywhere

Modern inventions always come with unexpected and possibly dangerous side effects.  When the automobile first came out, horses were terrified and you needed to have a man walk before your car waving a red flag (I am not kidding). As speeds increased a claxon horn was employed constantly. In fact, in some countries the car horn is still used constantly. When microwave technology—first used for transmissions of data from one place, line-of-sight, to another—was employed, people in the way suddenly got headaches and got sick. I know a lawyer in the Citicorp building in NY who gave up his corner office and his headaches ceased.

We are all learning — in the news every day and part of the Mueller investigations — how viral media can be perverted for malicious intent. And we all remember that the NSA has access to every phone call made in the USA and most of the world. OK, perhaps that’s not all bad, but the possibilities of using benign cell phone call technology for unwarranted spying has been shown again and again. Now we’re faced with Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Duplex (incorporating Home and Assistant) which are, by design, listening for your commands and, of course, picking up all sorts of other information. There are stories of those “services” listening in a bit too intrusively. A man talking on the phone to his brother discussing a serious medical issue of a relative. Next time the man went online, almost every site he went to and in his email inbox was filled with medicine recommendations for the same medical issue. When he complained he was told how to change the default settings to not listen until he called the device by name. But, one has to ask, did he turn off the commercial recommendations only? Were the recordings continuing anyway since the device is always on?

And here’s a spy kicker. Every time you buy a device — like a drone for private or commercial use — the images and sounds from that drone are carried to your phone by radio signal. And where else are they being carried? Recent research of a few commercial drones show the signals are simultaneously being transmitted to another IP address in China. If that drone was used, for example, to check out quickly emptying grain silos in Kansas, the information could be used to help a purchaser make a better deal on their next purchase. What, you think that’s far-fetched?

Remember fibre-optics? When Wall Street allowed a company to install (expensive at the time) fibre-optic links to their offices in New Jersey, no one thought anything of it. But the fibre-optic links allowed 0.003 second quicker communication. That meant that computers, not humans, could spot a trend 0.003 second faster than traders on Wall Street and make a quick profit. Maybe only pennies a time, true. That company made $4,000,000,000 in the first year.

Given that most of the world’s modern technology came out of American taxpayer’s investments, isn’t it about time we tightened up our use of this technology and, especially, for the newest advances in technology we’re still paying for which will trickle down soon and later? What investment you ask? Oh, heck, this year only the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a technology development program budget of $3,440,000,000.  Oh, and the Pentagon has another “black budget” of $50,000,000,000. Collectively, that’s $438 for every taxpayer in 2018. And this has been going on since WWII.  I, for one, am not against this development, but I am a little sick of seeing the benefits of taxpayers’ money being sent to factories outside of the USA without any repayment or safeguards from the companies benefiting.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.