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Big Brother Surveillance – It Is Not Just For Governments Anymore

Big Brother Is WatchingTraditionally, when we have thought of “Big Brother technology” we have thought of government oppression.  But these days, it isn’t just governments that are using creepy new technologies to spy on all of us.  As you will see below, “Big Brother surveillance” has become very big business.  In the information age, knowledge is power, and big corporations seem to have an endless thirst for even more of it.  So it isn’t just governments that are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do.  Corporations have discovered that they can use Orwellian technologies to make lots of money, and this is likely only going to get worse in the years ahead.  Below, I have shared a few examples of this phenomenon…

Private Companies Are Using Automated License Plate Readers To Spy On You

Did you know that people that work for private companies are driving around scanning our license plates?

I never knew this until I came across an article about it the other day.  The following is an excerpt from that article

Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any ­industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.

An automated reader attached to the spotter car takes a picture of every ­license plate it passes and sends it to a company in Texas that already has more than 1.8 billion plate scans from vehicles across the country.

These scans mean big money for Sousa — typically $200 to $400 every time the spotter finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default — so he runs his spotter around the clock, typically adding 8,000 plate scans to the database in Texas each day.

Your Cell Phone Is Spying On You

If you carry a cell phone around with you, then you are willingly offering up a whole host of information about yourself.  This is something that I have written about previously, but I never realized that some private companies are now setting up sensors in businesses to purposely capture information from the cell phones of anyone that walks in.  Yes, this is actually happening according to the Wall Street Journal

Fan Zhang, the owner of Happy Child, a trendy Asian restaurant in downtown Toronto, knows that 170 of his customers went clubbing in November. He knows that 250 went to the gym that month, and that 216 came in from Yorkville, an upscale neighborhood.

And he gleans this information without his customers’ knowledge, or ever asking them a single question.

Mr. Zhang is a client of Turnstyle Solutions Inc., a year-old local company that has placed sensors in about 200 businesses within a 0.7 mile radius in downtown Toronto to track shoppers as they move in the city.

Entire “Big Brother Housing Developments” Are Now Being Designed

Would you live in a housing development with a sophisticated “video surveillance program” and that uses automated license plate scanners to monitor everyone who comes and goes from the community?

In a country that is becoming increasingly obsessed with “security”, these new kinds of housing developments are surely going to be quite popular.  The following is an excerpt from an article about one of these communities that is being built in California

A new, scenic development surrounded by winding waterways is billed as a safe haven.

Only four bridges lead in and out of the area with security checkpoints and a fiberoptic video surveillance program. Every license plate scanned on those roads will be cross-checked with a DMV database for stolen cars.

The first homes are already going up at River Islands, and the people who move in can expect to be part of a new era in policing.

Disney Implements The “MagicBand” Tracking Device

Would you wear an RFID tracking device that allows you to buy stuff and that monitors you wherever you go?

Well, Disney actually wants their customers to willingly use this technology.

They are calling it the “MagicBand”, and perhaps you have already watched one of the new Disney commercials about it.  You can see what Disney has to say about “MagicBand” right here.

In the video posted below, activist Mark Dice discusses this troubling move by Disney…

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Our “Smart Televisions” Are Spying On Us

How would you feel if I told you that your expensive new television is actually spying on you?

You probably would not be too excited to hear that.

Well, depending on the actual brand, this is really happening.  In fact, one brand of television actually sends information about every button that press on your remote back to corporate headquarters

An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family’s privacy.

He began investigating the £400 LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him ‘targeted’ adverts — for cars, and Knorr stock cubes — based on programmes he’d just been watching.

Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV — which connects to the internet — was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his set.

He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG’s corporate headquarters in South Korea.

Data Mining – Your Personal Information Is Big Business

There are huge companies that most people have never even heard of that do nothing but buy and sell our personal information.  The collection of this personal information is called “data mining”, and it is extremely profitable.

In fact, there is one company called Acxiom that made a profit of more than 77 million dollars in one recent year by collecting and selling info about all of us.

In case you were wondering, yes, Acxiom almost certainly has a profile on you too

The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.

As long as these technologies are legal and businesses can make money this way, they are going to keep doing it.

So even if we stopped the rapid expansion of “Big Brother surveillance” by the governments of the world, the reality is that private corporations are going to keep pushing the envelope.

We live in a world that is rapidly changing, and unless a miracle happens we soon will not have very much privacy left at all.

Big Brother Surveillance

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  • DJohn1

    I am glad that someone somewhere is making money.
    Any smart TV can do this. What is more they can photograph and video tape you in your own house behind closed doors!
    LG is just the most recent case of this.
    I know people who are geniuses in the computer programming industry. One person was working for GM about 20 years ago. He wanted our help. He designed and was using a sonar/computer image maker that interpreted ultrasonic sound as images. (I don’t think he did it for GM)
    He described what we were wearing over the telephone. How he did it I do not know. But he even described the color of the sweater my guest was wearing.
    That was 20 years ago. So I am not surprised that many of our appliances and entertainment media can do this. I suspect half the monitors we use with the internet can do the same thing.

    • FirstGarden

      I see a flourishing iPad debugging industry coming.

  • El Pollo de Oro

    “George Orwell would be shocked if he saw what was happening. It’s far greater than he could have ever imagined.”—Gerald Celente

    “The banksters are going to take our bank accounts here in the United States. That’s what Homeland Security is for. That’s what the drones and checkpoints are for.”—Alex Jones

    “The assault on civil liberties, which
    began under the Bush Administration, has in fact been accelerated under the
    Obama Administration. It’s worse under Obama than under Bush.”—Chris Hedges

    • FirstGarden

      In China, serious repeat criminals are lined up in a field on their knees. Each one is shot in the head from behind and their families are charged for the bullet.

      Perhaps deterrence works after all. We don’t advocate this in America, but free room & board for life for the most hardened criminals is not effective. It hardly sends a message of “Thou shalt not murder.” Then we marvel at how overcrowded our prisons are, and release many of them back into society for the sake of economic expediency. What a message that sends.

      • El Pollo de Oro

        When bank holidays, a formal devaluation of the currency and a Cyprus-style bail-in come about in The Banana Republic of America and there is widespread civil unrest, that’s when we’ll see how vicious the Homeland Security/Patriot Act/NDAA junta really is. That’s when Americans will be slaughtered in huge numbers in the FEMA camps and all the people who didn’t listen to Ron Paul and other libertarians will wish they had. And as Alex Jones says, if the BRA becomes a pure tyranny, the rest of the world had better watch out.

        • FirstGarden

          I think the camps will be chock full of influential conservatives and others deemed “enemies if the state.” Check out “M A I N – C O R E.”

  • K

    The biggest part of this problem, is the grand majority of people do not care. When it was announced that LG smart T.V.s, were reporting back to the parent company, everything you watched and everyplace you went on the net. Did you see a big backlash? Did people stop buying LG T.V.s? No, as near as I can determine, it had no affect on the Company. So why shouldn’t everyone spy on everyone, the majority are too ignorant to care.

    • FirstGarden

      Media mesmerization.

    • Kim

      Fair enough. Why do they have to be so sneaky about it? No one disclosed to me when I was looking at some of those tvs last weekend “oh, by the way, your tv will be monitoring your viewing habits and sending the data back to headquarters every hour on the hour”

      . Is there a way to disable this tracking device?

      • K

        That was the interesting part on the LG models. You could go in and shut off that option, but it never really shut off. LG says they are not monitoring anymore, but the set is still set up to do so. The honest truth is, I would not have a smart TV in my house. Basically it is a TV, with a low end computer capability. To my knowledge no add on programs work with them. So you are on the net with no anti-virus, no ant-imalware, nothing.,Under those circumstances, a lot more than just the maker of the set, will be watching your every move. Just think, there are people doing their banking on those things. Talk about totally unsecured. As to when you are buying a product, let the buyer beware..

    • piccadillybabe

      I for one would never buy an LG TV because for the most part they are way over priced, nor would I buy a “smart TV” when you can get a simple device like “Roku” and get all the TV you’d ever need. Some people think you get what you pay for and in this case, way more than they knew. There are some people in America that are truly into spying on others especially people they know and would like to cause them harm. So this NSA stuff they eat right up and feel this is a “just” way to stay safe and put the “bad” people in jail. I feel like my entire neighborhood is into this stuff as well as the city and state I live in. It’s a huge part of America these days and people should know what is going on because it is not about keeping citizens safe, quite the opposite.

  • FirstGarden

    “.. the possibility of information storage, beyond what men and governments ever had before, can make available at the touch of a button a man’s total history (including remarks put on his record by his kindergarten teacher about his ability and character).

    And with the computer must be placed the modern scientific technical capability which exists for wholesale monitoring of telephone, cable, Telex and microwave transmissions which carry much of today’s spoken and written communications.

    The combined use of the technical capability of listening in on all these forms of communications with the high-speed computer literally leaves no place to hide and little room for privacy.”
    – Francis Schaeffer (Author, historian)

  • Georgiaboy61

    Great column, Michael, about a vitally-important subject. Successful novelist, futurist and former IT executive Daniel Suarez believes that it is time for Americans to have a digital bill of rights – one which extends those liberties found in the original constitution and bill of rights – into the 21st century and the digital age. After reading this column, it is difficult indeed to quarrel with that idea.

  • Kim

    You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

  • DJohn1

    Think about what you have said. They are paying big money to know all about us . . .
    Yet if we wrote them a letter it will be filed in the trash can. It is not just government it is private industry. But if they sneak around and spy on us, they eat up anything they gain in information like it was all true. I suspect if you investigated that all these companies are spying on their own workers.
    This tendency to think anything that they gain in stealth is true is a huge weakness. When I was a Union Steward for my group I used this to feed false information to the company many times. The company thought they were getting this information by stealth. I was feeding it to them. The swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

  • FirstGarden

    Is anyone familiar with the employment blacklists known as “Do-not-hire lists”?

  • ConcernedAmerican

    Isn’t it sad that there are so many people with such boring, miserable lives that they are so concerned with what other people are doing. Too many humans want to be like God, they want to see all, hear all, and know all. Frankly, it is none of the control freaks business what everyone is doing.

  • hon788

    Thousand protested sea world due to blackfish the movie which showed some startling abuse by sea world and was watched by millions. Did sea world suffer, so far they still have soaring profits.
    So to all the complainers about everything and how the world is all controlled or write you congressman.etc..ahh no just get outdoors and enjoy…or else waste time and die.

  • Soapbox Jill

    drop technology as far as possible. buy old stuff to use. go off grid. do not support businesses that do this. live real time. “Who is john galt?” no longer means the business person fleeing, it now means the consumer fleeing the technocratic system. Used to stand up for business rights. But they have overstepped. People lived hundreds of years in a much simpler way. We can do this. STOP BUYING THE GARBAGE that is making slaves of people.