We all know that privacy is a thing of the past, right? Pfff. The government spying on everyone? That’s yesterday’s news. But if you think you’ve heard it all when it comes to the obtrusive police state panopticon, you’ve got another thing coming. Here are five privacies you didn’t even realize you lost.
We all know that privacy is a thing of the past, right?
Followers of The Corbett Report will see past the “it’s only metadata” lie and the PRISM limited hangout to the underlying reality of the all-pervasive Big Brother surveillance grid. CALEA and the Stellar Wind. The CIA spying on you through your dishwasher. And who can forget the dolls that spy on your children?
Heck, even the normies no longer scoff at the “conspiracy theorists” who warn that every one of your electronic gadgets is listening to everything you say and beaming that information off to third parties. Now they just think that’s a good thing. I mean, how do you order a dollhouse for the doll that spies on you? By surfing and clicking? Pfff.
ANCHOR 1: OK, everyone, who has an Alexa? Turn down your tv set just a little bit. Alexa, the internet connected home assistant device: she’s listening.
ANCHOR 2: Yes, she is the Amazon echo system which does everything from getting your weather
report to ordering more laundry detergent can also do some things that you don’t want it to.
ANCHOR 3: I love the little girl’s take on it. “Alexa, ordered me a doll house.”
REPORTER: As soon as Jim said that, viewers all over San Diego started complaining their Echo devices had tried to order doll houses.
But Alexa and their technocratic police state brethren are only the most obvious examples of how our privacy has been obliterated in recent years (even in our own homes). Here are five privacies you didn’t even realize you lost.
This is The Corbett Report.
1) Privacy of garbage
You know what they say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Especially if that other man treasures information about your personal life.
The idea that your garbage says a lot about you is by no means new. Archaeologists have always known that the refuse of civilizations past provides invaluable insight into their day to day lives, and modern day researchers apply that to their studies of contemporary urban life. Others have observed that if you want to know what someone is really like you should just ask their garbageman. So why wouldn’t a police state hell-bent on eviscerating all privacy just deputize the garbagemen to become deep state spies? 007s of the dump, as it were?
The surprising answer is that they don’t have to be deputized. In fact, in case you didn’t know, prosecutors have been arguing for decades that you have no right to expectation of privacy in your trash, and no special license, permit, warrant or secret agent badge is required to rummage through your rubbish.
This was established in memorable fashion in Portland in 2002 when the Willamette Week reported on the curious case of Gina Hoesly. She was the Portland Police Bureau officer who was a victim of a garbage raid in the 1990s…at the hands of her fellow officers. The story is as crazy as it sounds (and worth the read), but the long story short is that the local D.A., police chief and mayor all became vocal defenders of the practice of raiding the garbage of anyone under investigation for anything—a practice that had been going on for a very long time. So you’d think they would have been happy when the dedicated Willamette Week reporters dug through their trash to prove a point…but you’d be wrong.
And that was in 2002, before “the day that changed everything” had finished changing everything. As you can well imagine, things have only gotten worse since then for those hoping their garbagemen wouldn’t be recruited as an army of spies in the never-ending Homeland Insecurity war of terror. Much, much worse.
JAMES EVAN PILATO: “The city of Ogden, Utah, recently joined an increasingly popular program developed by trash collection behemoth Waste Management Corporation, the Waste Watch Driver Training Program.” This article originally coming from The New American, but here’s how Waste Management Corporation’s website describes the program: “Our trucks are on your streets every day. Our drivers are familiar with their routes, so they’re often the first to notice when something is amiss. As your community partner, we assist local police and fire departments by acting as extra eyes and ears on local streets. Through our Waste Watch program, we provide training to our drivers in what to look for and how to report suspicious or criminal activity to local authorities.” According to the local report coming from KSL out of Ogden, Utah, several other cities in Utah started the program the same week as Ogden (they just kind of seem to be the frontman for it), joining a claimed 270 other communities nationwide that are participating in the Waste Watch Driver Training Program. “So what is in this fantastic training program?” you ask. Well, KSL says the workers watch a 15 minute video explaining the do’s and don’ts of helping keep watch in neighborhoods they serve, and how to report an emergency.”
2) Privacy of location
Well, you are probably vaguely aware that your personal tracking device—err…I mean, your “smart phone”—is tracking, tracing and databasing your movements at all times. (Even if you turn the GPS tracking off.) And you’re probably similarly vaguely aware that that information is not just being sent back to corporate headquarters (and siphoned off by the alphabet soup agencies, of course) but also being shared with third parties in all sorts of weird ways. But you’re probably not aware of just how pervasive the location spying and tracking grid is becoming.
Imagine a system where a network of facial recognition cameras across the country are connected, beaming information about your personal whereabouts to a central point where it is viewed in real time, stored for future reference, and even analyzed for possible “pre-crime” activity. Imagine those central authorities also having access to microphones embedded in the streetlamps that could listen in on your conversation. Imagine how such a system would be the dream come true of any would-be dictator with a penchant for suppressing dissent, and how impossible it would be to truly move undetected through any urban area.
Now stop imagining. These technologies already exist. The network of connected surveillance cameras is called TrapWire. Facial recognition cameras exist and could easily be linked in a TrapWire network. Microphones in the streetlamps is a thing. This is all real. Today.
No, these technologies have not all been connected in a single surveillance grid for the entire country (or the planet)…yet. That we know of, anyway. But we are already well on the way.
Consider communist China, always the test case for any NWO social experiment or police state test. Now the Chinese are on the verge implementing a facial recognition camera network that, they brag, will be able to match any one of the country’s 1.3 billion citizens to their ID photo within seconds.
Think it’s all just empty boasting? The Big Brother Corporation (better known as the BBC) played a little game with China’s CCTV network: How long could their reporter stay hidden on the streets of Guiyang before being caught by the city’s facial recognition cameras and apprehended by the police?
The answer? 7 minutes.
3) Privacy of thought
This one sounds like straight-up science fiction, but sadly—like so many other once-outlandish ideas—it’s fast becoming mundane reality: Mind-reading computers will one day ensure that even your privatest of private thoughts will no longer be so private (if the helpful technocratic servants of the police state have their way, at any rate).
As you’ll recall, I chose the story of the “AI body language-reading courtroom lie detector” as my technocratic story of 2017 not because I believe the tech actually works, but precisely because I think this is a PR rollout to condition the public to accept that whatever these “mind-reading” police state gadgets tell us is The Holy Truth, just like the old-fashioned lie detectors and hair analysis and fingerprint comparisons were The Holy Truth for investigators of yore (until they were exposed as a pack of lies, that is).
But, having said that, there are real, concrete, objectively measurable steps toward “mind-reading” technology that should have you concerned. As I reported earlier, researchers at New York University and the University of California have “created a mind-reading machine that allows them to reconstruct images in a person’s mind using brain scans.” The technology is as creepy as it sounds, and the results are undeniable. And that was in 2014.
The image reconstructions were followed in short order by person-to-person “mind messaging” via digital brain connection. And then by machines that could decode and process what someone was looking at in real time. And then by computers that could translate thoughts into words. And now, as one particularly chipper Big Tech PR site tells us, we are right on the cusp of commercially-available mind-reading technology.
But for those worrying over the potential for the Big Brother police state to read your thoughts and arrest you for thoughtcrime in real time…relax. It’s all going to be used to help cripples type, just like the brain chip!…Right?
4) Privacy of transaction
It may not seem all that different from any of the other privacy invasions, but privacy of transaction is in reality the Holy Grail of all privacies. In a way, almost all of our other forms of privacy are predicated on the privacy of our transactions. If all of our transactions are recorded and databased, then the alphabet soupers already know our location. They already know who we interact with. They already know what our interests are. They already know where we’re planning to go as soon as we book a trip. They know almost everything there is to know.
This point was made with characteristic clarity by Andreas Antonopoulos in his recent speech entitled “Worse than Useless: Financial Surveillance.”
We discuss the revelations from Snowden, the revelations about broad-based surveillance of all of our societies based on the Internet, and yet the elephant in the room, the thing we don’t discuss, is that the form of most pervasive and most intrusive surveillance that exists is the international network of totalitarian financial surveillance. Every time you use a debit card, every time you use a credit card, every time you use a bank account, every transaction gets funneled to every intelligence service and every government that has access to this network.
When people criticize Bitcoin they say it will enable the “darknet.” What is the darknet? Well, presumably the darknet is a network that is invisible to most of us, that operates on top of or in parallel with the Internet, and on which massive amounts of illegal activity happen. If this is the case, the darknet’s name is Echelon, PRISM, [X]Keyscore. Those are the names of the dark web. The darknet is operated by intelligence agencies because they are on a daily basis committing massive crimes against human rights, they are orchestrating a totalitarian financial surveillance network that monitors everybody’s transactions and as a result everybody’s location, everybody’s purchasing preferences, everybody’s political preferences and what kind of porn you watch, because all of that is tied to your financial life. Because everything is tied to your financial life. This system of totalitarian financial surveillance is the darknet. They don’t fear the darknet, they just don’t want us to have one.
We already know all of this, of course. We all know on some level that all of our credit card purchases and debit card purchases are being stored and sold to creepy third parties that are building psychographic profiles of us, and snarfed up by the intelligence agencies to boot. But for some reason this doesn’t seem to concern people. Perhaps they didn’t see Enemy of the State.
If people need any elaboration as to why complete financial surveillance in the hands of a would-be dictator should be concerning, they need look no further than the Total Information Awareness program launched by DARPA’s “Information Awareness Office” in 2003. Created under the smokescreen of the war of terror and run by convicted Iran-Contra criminal John Poindexter, the program was described as “the biggest surveillance program in the history of the United States” (at that time, anyway). It was intended to compile, in the words of William Safire, “[e]very purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend” in a “virtual, centralized grand database.” In other words, the holy grail of privacy invasions.
Of course, most of the information was to be collected via financial transactions. Thankfully, even the heavily traumatized post-9/11 American public wasn’t deep enough under the spell of the Homeland Security police state to fall for such an overtly totalitarian program at that point, so the program was officially scrapped. Or should that be “officially scrapped.” Meaning, of course, that the various facets of the program were broken up and transferred over to the NSA. And I think we all know how that story goes.
JAMES CORBETT: Last week NSA whistle-blower Russell Tice conducted interviews on Boiling Frogs Post and The Corbett Report where he revealed shocking new details of the NSA spying scandal. In addition to detailing how the NSA is collecting and storing the contents of all electronic communications passing through the United States, he also revealed for the first some of the specific targets of past NSA wiretapping operations, including senior Congressional leaders, the former White House press-secretary, high-ranking military generals, the entire Supreme Court and even then Senator from Illinois and future President, Barack Obama.
RUSSELL TICE: Yeah it was journalists, it was members of Congress both houses, Senate and the House, especially on the Intelligence Committees, in the Armed Services Committees and on Judiciary Committees and as well as the senior leadership in both the House and the Senate. It was judges, federal judges and every member of the Supreme Court, all 9, of which I held the initial targeting of Judge Alito in my hand when Judge Alito was being put up for his position on the Supreme Court. So I saw the Alito paperwork in my hand, physically. It was a few members of Bush’s own staff in the White House. They went after lots of lawyers and law firms I noticed.
CORBETT: In your interview on Boiling Frogs Post you mentioned specifically General Petraeus?
TICE: Yes. They went after senior military leaders. With my satellite stuff I saw how they went after the State Department and they went after Colin Powell, Secretary of State. They went after General Shinseki and then on the terrestrial side I saw that paperwork as they were going after General Petraeus.
CORBETT: Was Barack Obama targeted by this?
TICE: Yes he was as a matter of fact. That was in 2004, probably late-summer time frame and he was a candidate for Senator. He’s already won his primary in Illinois and that’s when I saw Barack Obama’s name.
But don’t worry. At least the totally scrapped and super-seriously-no-longer-operative Information Awareness Office didn’t have some creepy official logo, right? I mean, can you imagine if an actual, unbelievably creepy Orwell-on-steroids DARPA program like the IAO had some over-the-top logo, like an Eye of Horus irradiating the entire earth or something. I mean, that would be outrageous, right?
5) Privacy of DNA
Remember GATTACA? The 1997 Hollywood yarn about a world where genetic discrimination relegates the genetic “in-valids” to a life of menial labour while the genetically superior form a ruling class? Where everyone is genetically analyzed (or engineered) from birth and undergo daily DNA screenings? Where any bit of DNA you leave behind, from skin cells to fingernails, can and will be used as part of the screening process?
Well, it’s increasingly looking like GATTACA is less science-fiction and more just science.
I’m not just talking about the DNA shaming billboards launched by Ogilvy & Mather in a 2015 ad campaign that posted pictures of local litterers constructed from the DNA on their litter.
And I’m not talking about Madonna hiring a team of workers to sterilize her dressing room after each performance to make sure none of her genetic material is left behind.
And I’m not talking about the Project for a New American Century advocating for the use of race-specific bioweapons in their “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” white paper or the fact that the US Air Force is collecting Russian biological samples for “research purposes.”
And I’m not talking about the fact that the police are now openly requesting DNA data from Ancestry.com and 23andMe.
I’m talking about the fact that if you were born in a hospital in the Western world any time in the last half century, the government already has your genetic material…and claims the right to use it for their own research. That’s right, every newborn in the US, Canada, Australia and numerous other countries has blood collected from a heel-prick at the time of birth, and that sample is stored in government archives. Although genetic screening for newborns has been going on for over a decade, researchers are now using the blood spots on archived cards–some decades old–for retrospective genetic screening on the adult population.
This is the genetic database that no one ever talks about and is already decades old.
So who “owns” these blood samples? According to a 2004 article in The Age discussing an Australian version of this program which contracts a private company, Genetic Health Services Victoria, to collect and store the samples:
While the ownership of Victoria’s cards has not been tested, an internal company document obtained by The Age says: “This (newborn screening) card is the property of Genetic Health Services Victoria . . . (access) is in accordance with privacy legislation. (The company) owns the card.”
So private companies own the genetic material collected from you at birth and the government is using it in their own research. And you thought GATTACA was just fiction.
But don’t worry, Madonna. Since you were born in 1958 you pre-date the program…but maybe you should keep sterilizing those dressing rooms.
Conclusion: So what?
As I said at the start, the normies have already started to embrace the destruction of their privacy of communication and even to buy the very tech that helps to undermine it. In the latest sign of this apocalypse, Facebook has just announced a new gadget that will come with its very own facial-recognition camera and microphones (because, evidently, relying on third-party smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktops to capture all that data was just too cumbersome).
But surely there’s a line in the sand here somewhere, right? Privacy of garbage? Privacy of location? Privacy of thought? At some point, people have to start realize that what they are giving up is not just their privacy but their humanity. I mean, even former Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted there was a “creepy line” that Google wouldn’t dare to cross.
And once people realize that with the loss of all of these privacies, from the mundane privacy of garbage to the once-inviolable privacy of thought, they are gradually losing their ability to fight back against whatever turnkey dictatorship emerges in the future, people will wake up to the reality of this coming surveillance grid and reject these technologies outright, right?
James Corbett has been living and working in Japan since 2004. He started The Corbett Report website in 2007 as an outlet for independent critical analysis of politics, society, history, and economics. Since then he has written, recorded and edited thousands of hours of audio and video media for the website, including a podcast and several regular online video series. He is the lead editorial writer for The International Forecaster, the e-newsletter created by the late Bob Chapman.
His work has been carried online by a wide variety of websites and his videos have garnered over 40,000,000 views on YouTube alone. His satirical piece on the discrepancies in the official account of September 11th, “9/11: A Conspiracy Theory” was posted to the web on September 11, 2011 and has so far been viewed nearly 3 million times.
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