The Scramble For Your Information
The Scramble For Your Information
‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty
to purchase a little Temporary Safety,
deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.‘
If I were a little more ignorant, this writing would have been entitled Big Brother or something as clichéd as that but I find ‘Big’ is too large a word to attribute to a mind so small. It’s a mind that would entertain the petty ambition of extracting information from those who are unaware of the consequences of giving it, under the guise of convenience.
It sounds like the mischievous ‘Little Brother’, so-called by the native Americans, who were also duped into giving up information for convenience in the 15th century. That didn’t end well at all.
I pick up my phone to call a friend, I’m trying to tell him I’ll be late. Instinctively, I look for an envelope or some other icon on the phone menu showing a possible missed call, something or other. I see an unfamiliar caution sign, I’m thinking maybe the battery needs replacing or there’s a serious software issue. Naturally, I explore and the alert reads ‘Enable Google Play services.’ Really, I must? I thought I’d ignore it but it kept coming back.
After spending precious time that I did not plan to, I still couldn’t disable it. Totally frustrated, I eventually gave in to the pressure as I realised, not that it wouldn’t stop but it can’t stop, it’s an alert that’s not designed to be turned off. Does this sound like a typical event in your smart (er than you) phone life?
Nowadays this type of android-human master-slave interaction gets me more and more frustrated. When I think about the number of details I’m forced to provide just to open an online trading account: email verification, card details, text verification messages, addressed utility bills and passport scans, I often think about who’s collecting all this information. Behind the request, there is no face yet we have come to accept this. We send verified personal data to unknown sources, every day.
Equally as precluding, yet much more intrusive is the fact that my phone’s message bar has a yellow symbol that stops me in my tracks, giving me yet another piece of vital information – ‘Try another level on Pacman.’ What? I quit that game last Wednesday. It was full of ads which I also couldn’t figure out how to disable. All because Google Play allows this activity to (by default) come out of the game area and run free into my personal phone space, for a fee I’m sure. And I thought that those icons were for messages from friends, family and associates, silly me.
I started thinking about those Orwellian movies of the past and unfortunately, parallels began to form in my mind. Most of the early Sci-Fi movies portrayed the future as a plutocracy of amalgamated corporations that answered to nobody, placed its stamp on everything from food and clothing to cars and property, and existed mainly to squeeze the life force out of humans for what appeared to be economic profit.
Here’s my line of thought:
After reading yet another message on my phone ‘Would you like to sign in with Google?’ for the hundredth time, it dawned on me that incessant Google software will stop at nothing and is totally devoted to keeping and storing all of my passwords and will never tire from asking. Of course, it has no breath; although it addresses you like someone is actually there, it’s a machine. It knows, better than I do, the combination of letters and digits that I’m afraid to forget and too lazy to write down on paper, let alone type in. For me, with my several writing pads, diaries, and pieces of uncategorised thoughts written on stickies around the house, noting down isn’t my best option.
So they’re all safely stored in the browser. Did I say ‘safely’ and ‘browser’ in the same sentence?
Yeah, the browser. I vaguely remember switching from the Safari browser to Google Chrome some years ago, Why? Well besides the fact that Safari only updates their browser once in a blue moon with Apple’s new operating system, Google suggested it… actually maybe more than suggested it.
After consistently trying to persuade me with the efficiency of a machine, I finally gave in and, since I was on my back (injured) in a state of submission, I also agreed to its suggestions of making Google my homepage, search engine and the father (they’ve restricted that too) of my mac.
Their software is dedicated to being a total pain until you submit to its will, with constant bullying and countless reasons to eventually make the first thing you see when you go online the G-word. You can feel an attitude of authority, it’s not asking you it’s telling you. Then again, it’s not dissimilar to the ‘Updates available’ messages from the App Store abuse I suffer every other day on my MacBook, which, if you think about it, in both cases it’s a type of digital rape.
But I’m your friend.
I always found it odd that when a felon is caught, they are often supported by their peers, and even friends sometimes, who describe them as a quiet and fun-loving character. They seem to want to stress that they could never have imagined them committing a crime.
These innocent, fun looking brands are no different. They deceive us by appealing to the emotional, needy or the fun side of our personalities. Just look at the innocuously branded Google logo, totalitarianism innocently hides in plain sight of your life, no longer needing to ask of your trust as it has been burned into your sub-conscience from years of security suggestions and friendly warnings forming that neurological bond you now have – it’s your buddy.
Like the friendly neighbour, it tries to
Oh, the price of convenience! As many would assume, all these different services are separate ones, but when you put it all together Google has many eyes and ears and is not your friend at all but the holder and keeper of your digital tattoo.
No matter how many times we are addressed with personalised greetings or how often they change and animate that logo, these are cold corporations with no feelings. But our senses take leave and are overtaken by emotions, especially when our heroes and the pioneers of our personal causes are constantly being honoured, pushing emotional buttons that turn us into little puppies rolling over to have our bellies tickled.
Whether they appear to honour Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, Che Guevara or John Lennon, Google has all the intricate details of our lives, beliefs, and influences and will use them as needed. Meanwhile, we will be ignoring voluminous cookie policies and skimming through privacy updates to login to a page or quickly get the address of that shop, allowing these violations to continue, it’s genius.
Going further with this thought, I’m still shocked at the numerous amount of passwords Google browsers must hold worldwide, by any other subsidiary name. This leads me to think about the prompt on
my their mobile phone, after opening almost any App, for me to get a Google account or log into one to access the full contents of the App that I sideloaded. Sometimes it wants to verify whether the download is considered ‘safe’ before it resides on your phone. Thank you so much God-gle, you’re so considerate.
Sorry, did I say ‘Your Phone?‘
In reality, when you are forced to download, upload, allow or give up such personal details in order to get basic functionality on a device, it is everything but your own, trust me. You are literally forced to comply.
With this, we should really be aware that the intention never was about freedom on your device but simply to employ methods to extract, collect and then store your details somewhere (normally on a server overseas). Often this is in order to further figure out who, why, and what you are doing, along with analysing your personal habits to further market to you. Do remember that the excuse for all this sensationalised security started with terrorism in 2001.
Let’s not be too overly concerned with being hijacked by foreign forces; our home security has already taken custody of our information, we just haven’t noticed.
In 2017, Forbes named Google the # 2 most valuable brand in the world which means that it’s value: your data, is of great interest to those seeking you out for whatever reason, corporate or legal.
It’s also Google that asks for your location every time you want to find a shop, travel locally or abroad and sometimes even to download a simple App. It asks you to trust it on judging an App’s worthiness to be on your/it’s phone. So let’s not get mesmerised by the bouncing letters and the cool hip hopiness of the corporate data-collecting machine, it has a very serious job and you’re it.
Speaking of jobs, it’s not just Google, Apple has its own subtle intrusions too, especially since Steve Jobs’ departure in 2011, RIP.
In 2017, Forbes called out Apple and named them the most profitable company in the world. With this kind of money, it seems obvious that their interests will be strongly geared towards collating data to secure more bespoke sales and increase their profits.
If you happen to have a logo of an Apple on any of your hardware, your updates, downloads and purchases will come with conditions, constantly prompting updates they may take a little more freedom away each time you do, again in the name of security. Aren’t you even slightly suspicious of going into a store and having to be told by a human (I think) right in front of you to go log in to be served?
Saying that it also must be said that Apple is a little less intrusive than some others, mainly because the real estate on their computer is owned by and for them and not leased out, so the experience may be considered a little more of a personal one.
On the other hand, most other PC’s (Windows) lease out space for Antivirus’s, maps and a host of other software nuisances on their computers, straight out of the box. All these are provided by third-party’s to annoy you with warnings of being infected and spied on, once again, in the name of security. Digital terrorism, no?
Facebook has it’s bullyboy methods too. Yes, you can log in to Facebook on a mobile phone but just try to reply or even view a message and you will be occluded and held on a screen that insists you download their App before you can continue. They even entice you with the names of your friends that have succumbed to their digital seduction.
But then they do make it clear in their user agreement that they own ‘EVERYTHING’ that you place on their platform. I have no idea on earth why they would benefit from owning pictures of your children, friends, holidays and gossip conversations, but even more baffling is why we allow it.
I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s because in the very likely event of their server being hacked and pictures of your loved ones turning up on some disfavourable platform, they can cede liability and avoid class-action lawsuits of an unbearably large geographical scale. FYI, at the time of this writing, Apple phones allow you to use the full functionality of Facebook, including messaging, without having to download the Facebook Messenger App.
Ok, who’s idea was it…I mean who decided that because I have Adblocker on my browser, every time I try to log into my email a big intrusive **** off pop up will ask me to switch it off, EVERY SINGLE TIME! There’s no thought that we may not want to have a relentless bully reminding us that they can make it inconvenient for us if we decide to resist their ads with an Adblocker because we don’t want their programming in our heads.
Why not login with your thumbprint, it’s safer?
From 2010 to 2011, Google acquired one company per week. That’s 52 companies in that year. It’s now seven years on and they have not gotten any smaller, go figure. Google has now been re-organized into a subsidiary of a larger holding company under the name Alphabet. Their stated acquisitions total over 400 companies including Motorola mobile technology as well as Pitt Patt and Viewdle, facial recognition systems. Why?
When I think about Motorola I think about the traditional US police communication systems since the 70’s (maybe earlier). It’s as American as the Statue Of Liberty (no, maybe French fries…Apple pie?) and seems a very totalitarian move. That along with two other face recognition companies has to at least form a question mark over the mind.
Every splinter company of Google, from phone to browser to translation software, is another eye peeping into our private lives and sending it to its central brain somewhere forever. Now I know some will say ‘So what, I have nothing to hide.’ But just think, if the Google empire happened to disagree with something you wrote, bought or even thought, forty billion dollars would easily make it possible for you, your family, friends acquaintances and the entire block you live on to disappear if need be, with added legal muscle just so it doesn’t surface in the news.
A representative from the relevant branch of its hundreds of subsidiary companies would find it quite easy to locate your front door, knowing your ETA with accuracy beyond belief. What they’d want to do – I have no idea, but you’ve logged your address, family, friends, habits, interests, frequent travel locations, purchases, favourite websites, attractions, medical/psychological conditions, your diet, politics, concerns, wish lists and so on, on their huge database.
Put it this way, if Hitler had this type of machine way back then, we would all be German subjects. It’s just too much power for anything besides God to hold. But I’m sure it wouldn’t happen, would it?
In reality, very few of us make a business of crime or choose to engage in pointless threats towards our own humankind, it seems that today those who do, tend to do this by pushing free social media platforms online to eventually steal personal information to sell on the black market. Our only crime is that some of us don’t always want to be made a study of and we like to choose who and when we want to share our sensitive and personal data and maybe want to be able to physically face those that require it without having to lose functionality on the device we are using.
By being bullied into giving up our information to an anonymous corporation brings us back to the harsh reality of how close we are to a totalitarian system, especially when you realise that you will probably never ever see those that are utilising your information. Yikes!
Mundus Vult Decipi, Ergo Decipiatur
The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived (Maxim at Law).
In 2012 Regina Dugan, inventor and technology developer, left her government gig for an executive role at Google. She had previously served as the 19th Director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). She joined Facebook in 2016 as head of their secretive hardware lab called Building 8 in 2015 (secretive).
Before she made a decision to leave Facebook, after only 18 months, she made a very worrying pitch at the Facebook F8 developer conference in 2017. One particular statement served as a peep into the strange mind of the Google and government android. ‘What if you could type by just using your brain’? She said with not a hint of satire, she was being literal. The shocking thing for me wasn’t the nonsense that was being said but who was saying it and the audience’s acceptance.
Many abstract questions are asked in asylums and institutions where people are nursed back to health with intentions of getting back in touch with reality but when a woman (mother nature) with strong working ties to Google, Facebook and NASA and the money to literally place this chip in your head makes such statements, we’re f*****.
But even more worrying is the fact that most are so conditioned to accept convenience at any cost, because they too have so lost their grip on reality and what organic life was meant to be, that they will entertain such absurdity. Or maybe they have seen Minority Report and know it’s a step closer to predictive policing. Can’t we just pretend there’s a God, maybe just as a template, then throw it out when we remember the point of life again? Maybe mother nature has a jealous rival that wants to be known as father nature at any cost, one that many women also represent because of the global retinal degeneration.
So to recap: Hollywood’s science-fiction plutocratic dictators, that you were hoping never existed, were sitting there on your browser all along. And the only reason you didn’t identify them was because of the shiny stuff and their fun, bright and friendly-looking, goofy name. And of course the motive = Information.
I hope you feel a lack of agenda here and just a small desire to share and possibly encourage us to be a little less trusting of these major corporations online and possibly get you to leave the phone at home sometimes. And for God’s sake stop walking while you’re texting on the phone.
We hate to end on a down so we’ll leave it to you to decide on the authenticity of the story from the longest/best selling book of all time.
In the final hours of the hero from the scripture’s life, Pontius Pilate – the Roman governor – cunningly asked an ignorant people to choose between Barabbus (the thief) and Jesus (the saviour) to decide who was worthy of freedom. The decision that followed was made by the mass misinformed. Their disillusioned state appeared obvious to the informed (government and the few awake). Pontius Pilate got his way and the people went down in history as the authors of the most colossal Fup in the history of time. And by that, we don’t mean Fair Use Policy.
We are at the dawn of another ignorance that keeps our focus on technology as a thing of wonder and turns us away from this wonderful revival of spirit and the waking of our inner tuition. Today, more than ever, ethereal messages are being sent out and picked up by connected individuals through the same ether that has always existed but on a higher crest. The irony is that the non-tangible realm that science has convinced us doesn’t exist is being exploited by science. It’s used as a model to replicate nature’s communication channels with waves and frequencies that you cannot touch, see or even perceive for the most part, yet you accept it as is.
I guess the point is that if we are true to ourselves everyone believes in a God, they just haven’t been brave enough to call it by its name: Technology.
For Ted Gunderson
S: Recode.net – Wikipedia Regina Dugan – Pht: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company