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The Surrender of Electronic Privacy

Internet PrivacyI now have six operational computers in regular use. Three of them for CNC machine control and one of them is a netbook (small laptop). Four of them run a Linux operating system. That will change to five in the near future. All my workshop computers will be Linux as I sort out and learn all the details of LinuxCNC for machine control.

I am currently building a network for the workshop computers. When that is operational, I will convert the third shop computer to LinuxCNC.

So far, I trust the Linux OS to not spy on my activities and report what I do to the Internet. I am not able to have that trust with Windows 10.

I recently purchased a used computer that had a new install of Windows 10. The first requirement was to do the initialization of operating system. There is a sequence of about 12 questions that asked my permission to share everything I would be doing on the computer with remote information gathering systems. That release of privacy was presented as a benefit to my computing “experience”. It did not include the fact I already know that Microsoft 10 could stop my computer at any time and do a system update without adequate notice or option to abort. These updates often reset, without my permission, many options that I previously turned off.

A PRIVATE computer with an OS that is a blatant component of a data gathering service, with a built in purpose that bleeds specific usage information to personally unknown and uncontrolled data systems, that creates a stored profile of my user habits, is nothing I want. It scares me to no end. Computer users please, please wake up to what is happening!

Personal computers have the ability to destroy all semblance of privacy. In many large corporate (business) networks this loss of privacy is a fact of corporate life and operating systems are designed to provide this ability without user permission. This is usually done with a Microsoft OS system.

This is because the personal computers in corporations are not personal. They are property of the corporation. The user is just that, a user. Every use of a corporate computer and its data systems is property of the corporations. Corporate users must live with this specter looking over their shoulder.

This electronic surveillance ability is now easily exploited on a private home user anytime a personal computer is connected to the Internet. Today with easy WiFi connection, this includes a vast majority of non PC computer use through a host of other “connected” communication devices. (iPads, cell phones, etc.)

Privacy invasive social applications commonly in use on the Internet is a topic for another time.

Open source Linux with its many distributions and versions has no visible corporate agenda to gather private information. But some Linux is Commercial and associated with commercial corporate system builders, so there could be some collusion in those versions. The rule is to trust nothing to be totally private when connected to the Internet.

My concern is not because I have anything to hide. That is not the point. The problem for me is I have an expectation that WHATEVER I do should be private if I want and expect it to be. It’s a right that is a basic freedom of the USA citizen.

When the tool (the personal computer and its operating system) is the method of invasion, then it is time to fix or replace the tool. If the problem is the applications I run, or the URLs I visit, then it is time to change those too. Or at least be aware that those actions are not private. The choice needs to be mine and totally under my control.

The most visible evidence is the flood of targeted marketing that is rampant on all Internet browsing activity. My individual (personal) computer use is being recorded, compiled and sold for profit. I have never consciously authorized this tracking but my permission may have been obtained in some fine print, 12 page Google release clause. But its activity is self evident. There is no question it is being done. Internet activity is considered an open public activity. It’s like walking through the open shopping mall with someone recording the contents of every window into which I take a look and deciding this viewing action is descriptive of my interests. It’s called a personal profile. The same is happening with cable TV viewing, but that is another issue.

In todays overly connected world, no electronic communication can be considered private. Governments around the world have already built huge data storage facilities to permanently store every literal bit of information generated over every communication system in existence. This includes cell telephone calls. Many uses for that information are yet to be determined. Additional and larger storage facilities are constantly being created.

Everything recorded can be used both for and against my best interest and that choice is NOT under my control. Surrender of freedom or privacy, usually presented as a benefit, can just as easily be used in a negative way.

Privacy and personal secrets used to be considered basic human rights. Those rights are constantly violated by agendas that exploit knowledge that was never previously shared. Supposedly for the “greater good” but mostly for the greater profit of others.

There is a cable TV program called “A Person of Interest”. Developed nations like the USA are closer to that scenario than most people realize… So have a great day… Big brother is recording it… Smile please.   🙂

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