Verizon Is Watching And Selling Your Strokes
It’s funny how Americans become furious when they hear of government’s efforts to spy on them but are apparently okay with private companies doing the same. The motives are different of course; the government wants your info in order to make sure you’re not a trouble maker while a company wants to sell you products. But they use the same tactics and being tracked by companies, whether on our phones or computers, is becoming such a regular aspect of our lives that we’re not even shocked when we hear new information about how much we’re being watched.
I thought of this after reading this article about Verizon changing its privacy agreement back in October. Verizon recently got slammed in a high profile issue of charging extra for online bill paying, which we wrote about yesterday. Yet the privacy agreement change was released with little attention, most likely on purpose when you hear what the change is. And while a $5 per month charge is ridiculous, the privacy issue is certain to have longer implications.
Verizon’s policy change says that they can now track phone usage and location, using this information to sell to other companies. This information will then be used to provide “targeted ads” to the customer, ensuring that their days will be endlessly filled with advertisements. And people wonder why random shooting sprees happen…
How is this legal? Well Verizon has gone all slick and used the infamous “opt-in” method, similar to Facebook’s efforts to broadcast everything from your phone number to your penis size by assuming you want that stuff out in the open. Much like Facebook, you can “opt-out” of Verizon’s new deal by going here. Even better, you can install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) by going here. This will encrypt your key strokes, emails, etc. so you can ensure you won’t become Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State. But your best option? Don’t use a fucking smart-phone. I know, I know, at this point, it’s like asking someone not brush their teeth…or go on Facebook, still they’re about equally important to us.
By the way, wasn’t technology supposed to simplify our lives?
Verizon’s efforts come a month after a hacker discovered tracking software in Android phones, which recorded user’s keystrokes. While that information is kept private, there’s no telling who will be able to hack into that information. The lesson here is don’t log into your bank account on your smartphone. The company who made the software, Carrier IQ, has admitted to the tracking capabilities but has denied any wrongdoing. The funniest part of the whole thing? Allegedly, the FBI contacted Carrier IQ about their methods, not for investigation but because THEY wanted to be able to do that kind of tracking. You know you’ve done something right when the FBI is jealous of you. The FBI denied the charges but then denied a Freedom of Information Request for any information linking the FBI and Carrier IQ. Hmmm…
So this is the state we live in. We’re giving away our civil liberties, rights to privacy and the rest, so that we can have convenience and something to pass the time. We slave away to buy these flashy things, which enable the powers that be to spy on us. Orwell predicted the government would take the role of Big Brother but it’s looking as though it’ll be corporations like Verizon and Apple that’ll be doing the watching. And I guess we’re okay with that.