I FACEBOOK, THEREFORE I AM.

Facebook Privacy1

PRIVACY:  1. The right to be free from secret surveillance and to determine whether, when, how, and to whom, one’s personal or organizational information is to be revealed. 2. Someone’s right to keep their personal matters and relationships secret. 3. The state of being apart from other people or concealed from their view.

It’s been an interesting journey, not doing Facebook. At the end of 2014 when Facebook introduced their most obscene privacy violations to date, I could no longer justify being part of the massive social experiment – or as it is otherwise known, the massive CIA/NSA data grab and surveillance behemoth. I posted articles alerting my Facebook friends to the implications of these insidious privacy violations and a small number of them showed tentative concern. However, over three years later, they are all still hard at it.

I logged on to Facebook recently to determine if anyone else had woken up to the psyop, only to confirm that now more than ever friendships are primarily conducted on social media. In those 40 months of absence from the platform they areFacebook Friendships all still at it, more intensely than ever. Yet their contact with me has dwindled to zero. I no longer even get the obligatory token “Happy Birthday” message when they are prompted to send me one.

OK, so maybe they think I will not get the messages because I have left Facebook. Many of them have my email address and my mobile number, so a quick text or short email? Nope. Many of them have my postal address and could send me a birthday card like we did in the old days? Nope again. I’m one of the few people who still have a landline, so a quick “Hi, how’s things” maybe? That’s how we used to do friendship maintenance. Buuuuuuuuuut, nope. A big fat NOPE. Nothing. It’s like I no longer exist. Like I unknowingly stepped through a space/time portal that delivered me into another set of dimensions, but I’m somehow still on the same planet.

I DON’T FACEBOOK, THEREFORE I AM NOT.

It’s not a generational thing because nearly all of my (former) Facebook ‘friends’ are my age or older, so they certainly should remember how we did it in the past. In the BFB era. You know, Before FaceBook. But they’ve all been sucked in. Posting their entire lives andFacebook Addiction children’s development online, for all to see.

To give it some perspective, let’s go back a decade or two. You know, BFB……

The thought of putting one of my family photo albums in the local library for everyone to flick through is cringe-worthy to say the least. The words ‘strange’, ‘egotistical’, and ‘show-off’ come to mind. Sending photos of my dinner through the post to 157 friends makes me keel over in laughter. The act of taking a photo of my dinner in the first place is just utter nonsense. If I’d re-posted all the junk mail from my letterbox to everyone I know I’d have been locked up as a public nuisance. And as for asking me to give over my credit card number or banking details, you’d have been laughed out of town. These details were kept private – even from family and friends.

Back then we didn’t have to surrender all of our personal details just to buy a ticket to see a band or to catch the train. We just used to hand over the cash. Anonymously. We travelled anonymously. And associated with others, anonymously. Now, there’s a record of when and where you use the train; a record of what concerts you attend. And if you use Facebook the way most people do, there’s a record of your entire life. And this is the most insidious privacy breach of all because Facebook users are publishing it VOLUNTARILY.

So who do you blame when you voluntarily publish all your personal information and it goes pear-shaped? When your details are shared with people they shouldn’t be shared with, à la the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal? Mark Zuckerberg? Do you think you can get some justice by blaming Mark Zuckerberg?Facebook Privacy?? Sure, Zuckerberg was grilled by Congress this week and he gave ten long hours of testimony. No mean feat for someone of his intellect. He got some tough questions. And he made US$3,000,000,000 (AUD$3,859,500,000) in the process, making him the world’s 7th richest person. In the time that he fronted Congress, Facebook’s total market value rose by US$23,000,000,000 (AUD$29,589,500,000). So much for justice. Do you really believe that Mark Zuckerberg gives a bugger about your personal details?

Meanwhile, as Zuckerberg ponders how he is going to spend the billions he has made at your expense, your personal details are still in the wrong hands. And so-called ‘privacy breaches’ are still going to happen. Privacy statements mean squat when there’s a hack or a security breach. After a hack or an ‘error of judgement’, your personal information will then be in the hands of people you never gave permission to have it. And there is nothing that you can do about it. The damage is done, and there can never be justice when the damage is already done. It’s like giving birth – you can’t change the result: blaming your partner isn’t going to change the result.

When you hand over your personal information, you are, by definition, losing control of it.

When you voluntarily serve up your personal details you have no-one to blame but yourself when it goes pear-shaped because you are the one breaching your own privacy by handing over your details in the first place.

The only solution is to maintain control over your personal details and to maintain your privacy in general. Like we did in days gone by. Forty months ago I realised that things had gone too far. I felt very uncomfortable with what I was routinely being asked to do even thoughThink1 other people seemed fine with it. So I decided to step out of the hive mind/collective slumber and to trust my own inner knowing: I decided to think for myself.

I stopped publishing my life on Facebook. I stopped handing out my personal details to strangers. I refused to agree to outrageous ‘Terms of Service’ and so-called ‘Privacy Statements’. I missed out on events and experiences. I started taking notice of the growth of mass surveillance, data mining and privacy breaches. I started taking notice of the general degradation of the concepts of privacy and the individual. I made many enemies by refusing to comply with outrageously unnecessary requests for my personal information. But by-and-large I have maintained an ‘old fashioned’ level of privacy – albeit with less ‘friends’.

I think, therefore I am.

I think Descartes was on to something. Thinking and doubting. Logic and privacy. If I am not in control of my personal information, can I have privacy? By definition, the answer is no. So by even the most basic process of logic, the conclusion is –

“If I give up control of my personal information then I cannot have privacy.”

It’s that simple.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

“ALL TRANSACTIONS ARE RECORDED”: What is surveillance really all about?

In 2015 I wrote an article about surveillance, censorship and privacy because I had become quite alarmed about the blatant attack on privacy and freedom that was taking place. You can read that article here. Since then there has been a drastic escalation in both the amount and the types of surveillance being forced on the population – 99% of whom are innocent of any crime. In my own life I have experienced some deeply troubling developments and so I have been moved to write an update. I hope this article is helpful and informative and I trust that it helps to open people’s eyes about what the surveillance revolution is really all about. Hint – it’s not about catching “the terrorists”!

Today I was in a Woolworths supermarket in regional Australia. At the self-checkout I was confronted with a bold new sticker which literally yelled at me “ALL TRANSACTIONS ARE RECORDED”. Shocked, I looked around and saw that all of the self-checkout screens had the same offensive sticker. WoolworthsI asked the supervising attendant what the sticker meant. She replied “it means that all transactions are recorded”. Wow, that was so helpful. Trying my very best to be patient, I clarified “exactly what is recorded about the transaction?”. And then the propaganda began to gush… “everything is recorded”… “account details”… “personal information”… “it always has been”… “it’s required by law”… “those stickers have always been there”… “by choosing to use a credit card you give us your details by choice”… etc. I was utterly shocked by the intolerant and aggressive tone that accompanied the propaganda, not to mention the blatant lie that the sticker had “always been there”. When I raised this seemingly obvious point she became even more aggressive and asserted that the stickers had indeed always been there. Something in me said “No. No more”. And I refused to allow her to get away with this aggressive campaign of shameless lies.

The only reason I was at Woolworths in the first place is because I recently discovered that my local IGA is in fact not actually “I” (as in “Independent”), so I have reluctantly returned to Woolworths in protest. I discovered that what I knew as Independent Grocers Association (IGA) is in fact now called Independent Grocers of Australia (still IGA) and it is owned by Metcash. I discovered that by-and-large each supposedly “independent” IGA franchise has little control over the stock they carry. The vast majority of product lines they carry and the stock levels they carry are decided by the warehouse managers at Metcash. My recent email inquiry to Metcash about this contradiction in their advertising campaign remains unanswered.

Propaganda

But I digress. Back to the propaganda campaign.

The supervising attendant’s manager was called and promptly appeared. They could be related. In this town they probably are.

The supervising attendant’s manager’s manager was called. The store manager no less. A very decent man who, after initially taking the same line as his subordinates – “by law we must retain and store your information for seven years” – did a magnanimous job of getting the answers I was after. When I requested to view the Woolworths policy and procedure documents outlining the government legislation that necessitated such privacy breaches as well as the documents outlining how staff are to be trained to implement the program, Mr Manager disappeared into the bowels of the store. Several phone calls later and many searches of Woolworths policies later he conceded that they were in the wrong. Whilst ripping the offensive sticker off my self-checkout screen Cash(where I had already paid for my shopping with CASH) he admitted that Woolworths had no right to store and retain my personal details. The store had apparently misinterpreted the initiative known as “Wave One”. The stickers were meant to be placed on staff-operated screens and to be seen by the checkout personnel only. “Wave One” is apparently a new Woolworths loss prevention program – to prevent cash being stolen from checkout tills by checkout staff.

Always been there, eh?

Stickers were ripped off screens.

The aggression vanished.

I was given a box of chocolates and a $20 gift voucher for the inconvenience.

But you know what? I don’t buy it. I can’t believe it. They were all so certain of the meaning of the stickers. That it was about storing the details of every transaction – credit card numbers; bank account details; items purchased. And they were so sure that “it has been government policy for twenty five years” to store the details of every transaction. The only thing that has changed is that “now we have to tell you that we are doing it”. This is the scary part: the aggressive totalitarian surveillance propaganda just spewed out of them automatically and it was only because I asked for evidence of their claims that they retreated and stopped snarling at me with salivating bared teeth.

What if I hadn’t protested? What if, like most people, I just accepted their surveillanceCensorship propaganda? What if I just accepted that they had a right to record and store my personal information and there was nothing I could do about it? Clearly everyone around me was doing that. The looks, the headshakes and general embarrassment told me that I should just shut up and get on with my day. The level of aggression and intolerance and discomfort told me to stop “questioning”. Stop “making a scene”.

Stop… making sense.

I imagine I will be waiting a long time for the Woolworths “Wave One” documents I requested. They have my email address but I won’t be holding my breath. “Wave One” of what I wonder? Will “Wave Two” be the actual implementation of such an aggressive surveillance policy? Is “Wave One” just a trial run to see how people will react to it?

(UPDATE 19/10/2017:  I was recently in another Woolworths supermarket in a different town in regional Australia and guess what? The same stickers were plastered on all of the self-checkout screens. Deja vu. What are the chances that two managers from two different stores have misinterpreted the “Wave One Loss Prevention Program” in exactly the same way? Pretty slim to none would be my answer. So I now have good reason to believe that my gut reaction was correct – “Wave One” is a trial run of an aggressive privacy-destroying surveillance program.)

Orwell. That’s what I keep coming back to these days. More and more. Orwell. 1984. It was no ordinary novel. Power. Control. Fear. And we are living it in Australia in 2017.

Since I wrote that first article on surveillance in 2015 I have been the target of surveillance in my own home. My house has been broken into several times with nothing stolen. Locks have mysteriously broken. Electrical appliances have been interfered with. I have evidence that my movements are under surveillance. Text Surveillance1messages have been intercepted and interfered with. My computer has been accessed remotely. My email files have been altered and a program has been installed that can re-direct my incoming messages, and reply to my messages before deleting them – possibly before I read them. I recently found a device that appeared to be a bug or transmitter of some sort. I didn’t have my glasses on at the time and I just presumed it was part of my son’s electronics project, so after handling it I left it in the box where I found it. It was a small white plastic device with two or three tiny aerials coming out of it, in a miniature zip-lock plastic bag. When I questioned my son about it later that day, he denied any knowledge of the device. I went looking for it to show him, only to discover that it had vanished. I turned the house upside down in a frenzy looking for it but eventually I had to concede that it was gone.

Therefore, I had to face the fact that someone had broken into my home and removed the device that afternoon when I went out to pick up my son from school.

Therefore, I had to face the fact that someone was watching my home and monitoring my movements.

As these incidents have mounted so has my dismay. Why me? Why am I such as threat? I’m such small fry. In the scheme of things I’m a nobody in the world of alternative journalism – or “fake news” as it is now called. There are so many other highly successful independent journalists and publications who reach hundreds of thousands of people with their work. I’ve written five articles (read them here) and I publish information on a Twitter account which hardly anyone reads because of the restricted reach algorithm that was applied to it shortly after I started it. Ditto for the Facebook page I abandoned a few years ago.

Truth5

Five articles. A largely inactive Twitter account and a totally inactive Facebook account. That’s it. And I’m being treated like a dangerous underworld criminal.

Many of my friends and associates have distanced themselves from me. Business relationships and transactions inexplicably go sour and are often destroyed for no apparent reason. People seem unusually suspicious and avoidant of me. The only people who still contact me voluntarily are the ones who don’t do social media of any kind. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I eventually came up with several explanations for this harassment. One is that I’ve been targeted by an asshole with too much time on his hands who has worked out that I do not entirely practice what I preach when it comes to privacy and surveillance. He’s getting some sort of sick kick out of showing me how easy it is for him to access my home and my computer, making me look like a fraud for promoting privacy in this era of surveillance. But that doesn’t explain the destruction of my personal and business relationships.

Alternatively, maybe I’m a randomly chosen targeted individual (T.I.), ie. the random victim of covert electronic surveillance and harassment. This is an increasing global phenomena and more information can be found about it here, here, here and here. Women are far more likely to be the victims of such harassment, but considering that I found the device in my son’s room he may be a target too. The other possibility is that I am/we are non-random targets of covert electronic surveillance and harassment ie. it is being done because of who we are. I was reluctant to go with this option because it’s a pretty out-there thought to think – “I’m being spied on because I write articles about the dangers of the New World Order/Global Governance in my spare time” or “Maybe it’s because I was in Moscow in 1991 during the Gorbachev coup” or “My son is being spied on because his grandfather had something to do with ASIO and they tend to recruit nepotistically, don’t they?“. Yeah, thoughts like that are a recipe for being locked up.

Truth6

Recently I stumbled across this eye-opening interview by Abby Martin about the Deep Web which may explain why I have been targeted. The Deep Web contains a small encrypted online communication network called the Dark Web or Dark Net. It is an encrypted space offering anonymised private communication. I wrote about the Dark Net, encryption and anonymising software in my 2015 article and made reference to them (and other methods for maintaining your privacy and freedom) in my very amateur unrehearsed one-take You Tube clip here. Martin’s interview outlines how so-called national security organisations such as the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) are highly threatened by individuals who develop and promote such methods because firstly, it alerts the public to the ongoing attack on our privacy and freedom and secondly, it gives the innocent public avenues for maintaining their privacy and freedom.  Outrageous precedent-setting prison sentences have been handed down to people like Barrett Brown and Ross Ulbricht who have developed and promoted methods for circumventing totalitarian anti-privacy and anti-freedom surveillance schemes imposed by the state. Aaron Schwartz took his own life after being targeted by the US government because he was a  passionate advocate of freedom, specifically, freedom of access to information. He was a brilliant code writer who developed ways to circumvent the requirement to pay for downloading academic journal articles – for which he was indicted. He also developed ways to help people protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is probably the real reason why he was targeted. Because of his actions the anti-freedom SOPA bill was defeated, and the government eventually targeted him to “make an example” of him. The pressure was too much and on January 11th 2013 Aaron tragically took his own life. In contrast, in Australia the corresponding bill – the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 – sailed through both houses of parliament on June 22nd 2015 without even a whimper of protest. Mostly, I suspect, because Australians were too busy checking their Facebook status and uploading selfies to Instagram.

So maybe that’s why someone seems to want to know what I’m up to – because I promote ways of maintaining privacy and freedom, and I give my readers the ability to access the truth. These are the things that are most threatening to the powers that be. In my original article on surveillance I sFreedomhowed my readers how to access methods to maintain their privacy and freedom, and on my Twitter page I give my readers access to sources who disseminate truth. And because privacy and freedom and truth are antithetical to surveillance and to state-sponsored totalitarian control of the population, it appears that I am now a ‘problem’. If people knew the truth about surveillance they certainly would not be begging the government for more of it to protect them from ‘the terrorists’. As I stated in my 2015 article –

“Spying on innocent people is clearly a pretty lazy, unsophisticated and ineffective approach to national security. Clogging up security storage networks with vast amounts of information on innocent people only hinders an agency’s ability to focus on any actual terrorists due to the massive information management burden it creates. It’s obvious that the extent of surveillance we now deal with on a daily basis is not really about catching “the terrorists” at all.  It’s increasingly about monitoring everyone’s movements. Monitoring what we do, where we go, who we associate with, and most disturbingly it’s about monitoring the flow of information. Recent changes to the policies of government minions Facebook and Google indicate that these corporations have actually taken the next step. They are now controlling the flow of information.”

Since I wrote this passage we have seen the rapid escalation of online surveillance and censorship to prevent so-called “fake news”.  This is what I meant back then by “controlling the flow of information”. In other words, denying access to ‘unauthorised’ information; forcing a particular version of events on people; telling people what ‘the truth’ is; controlling what people can know; influencing what people believe.

It’s a form of mind control.

And that’s what surveillance is really all about. Control. Control of people. Their thinking. Their behaviour. Control of their entire lives. It’s 1984 in action. Surveillance is about keeping the public dumbed-down, fearful, powerless, too afraid to think for themselves, and unable to identify the truth. We used to call it igRebellionnorance or stupidity and it was a much-maligned state of being. But according to my former friends and the shoppers in the regional Woolworths store I was in today, it’s now highly encouraged. In the past we used to make up our own minds about issues. Now groupthink is forced upon us through fear-laden war porn and propaganda from monopolised media outlets, as well as through new phenomena such as social media, ‘political correctness’, targeted advertising and ‘advertorials’, and politicised school/university curricula. The intrusion of power-hungry corporations into our lives under the guise of ‘knowing what’s best for you’ because ‘experts know best’ and ‘the research proves it’ is particularly insidious and confusing for most people. I spent many years in academic research and I know damn good and well how easy it is to conduct fraudulent research in order to get the results you want. The non-disclosure agreements that researchers must sign ensure that the public is never alerted to dodgy methodology or ‘inconvenient’ outcomes.

So this is the sad and sorry state of affairs in 2017. As I have discovered, if you dare to step out of ignorance you will be ostracised, treated with suspicion, and potentially become the victim of covert surveillance and harassment. If you want to ‘fit in’ and not draw attention to yourself then don’t think for yourself and always believe what ‘authorised’ sources tell you to believe. Don’t rock the boat and don’t question authority. And above all, don’t engage in any behaviour that even remotely resembles the promotion of freedom and truth.

Is this really the future you want for your kids?

GlobalistAgenda