THEY’RE SPYING ON US … DOES IT MATTER?

THEY ARE ALL OUT TO GET YOU. OR TRYING, ANYHOW.

Google is spying on you. So is the government. And Amazon, and almost every single website you visit … even if you don’t actually visit it but just pass briefly through a photo that’s linked to the site. Every bit of raw data is collected by some database (search engine). Usually more than one. I know this because I helped build these databases. No kidding, I really did.

So unlike most civilians who didn’t think all this data mining would get personal, I figured it would inevitably spread to pretty much everything.

google-search-screenGoogle was the winner in the search engine war because it was, from the beginning, better than its competition. It still is. No one has created a better search or data mining engine, though this doesn’t preclude future competition. Technology never stops trying to build a better whatever.

Google built an empire on their engine. The best, fastest, most complete database in the world. Knowledge is power, so it is said. Google has continued to add to that base and use it in many profitable ways. Mostly, by making advertising personal.

ABOUT THOSE UGLY SPYING RUMORS THAT AREN’T RUMORS

Does Google spy on us? You betcha. ALL the Databases everywhere are collecting information about everyone around the world. Don’t think for a moment it’s just an American phenomenon. Not hardly. Google does it better and more thoroughly and more openly, but spying via computer has become the way the world turns.

 

google is watching you

Information gathering is a million times (or more?) faster than it was in the early years. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. But does that translate to everyone knowing your secrets?

EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYONE, RIGHT?

Not really. Your buying habits are public even if you don’t shop online. Those discount cards and other store ID cards track every purchase you make using any kind of plastic, including your debit card. This information is mined by a parent company, sliced and diced and sold to other companies. Data mining a huge industry and you are both a product and a target. (Think about that for a while.)

But as for the rest of our lives …

Just because we can accumulate information at warp speed doesn’t mean we have the ability to do much with the raw data. The ability to collect information has far exceeded anyone’s — Google’s or the government’s — ability to analyze and make sense of it. Piles of raw data are accumulating on servers, but it isn’t doing anything.

I laugh at the idea that the government is tracking each of us. Personally. They are so buried in their own data, they are barely keeping their collective and individual heads above water. By trying to monitor everything, they effectively wind up monitoring nothing. The amount of data collected by satellites alone is overwhelming.

The terrorist they caught the other day wasn’t on the radar and probably, neither will be serious future threats. There’s so much information it has effectively become no information. Huge heaps of raw data is the same as no data. To make that data useful, an army of analysts would have to start working on it yesterday. No government is hiring an army of analysts, which means the data will grow old and meaningless without anyone having so much as skimmed it.

drone spy

Solving crimes and dealing with terrorism will continue as it always has. Live agents, police, the military — aka people — will use the same forensic methods “as seen on TV” to get the job done. They will rely on informants and citizens to report suspicious activity. They will follow clues, leads, and try to find people who are doing dangerous stuff. Let’s hope they are successful.

Relax. They are tracking your shopping, but they don’t give a hoot about the rest. If there’s information about you out there? Odds are no one will ever see it or be able to find it. You would have to do something to bring yourself to their attention — which I highly recommend you not do.

Meanwhile, all the information gathering engines are busily gathering everything.

Everything is, practically speaking, identical to nothing. Your secrets are safe from everyone except companies who want to sell you stuff. They can always find you.

38 thoughts on “THEY’RE SPYING ON US … DOES IT MATTER?

    • No, I don’t know about Five Eyes. Enlighten me, please. Oh, I looked it up. So they are sharing that mountain of data. But they still can’t possibly even begin to sift through it. They really need to stop collecting everything and start collecting specific stuff. Filtering the data because if they don’t, it’s meaningless. Sharing a mountain of meaningless data won’t make it more meaningful. Good news? It’s all in English.

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  1. Pingback: THEY’RE SPYING ON US … DOES IT MATTER? — SERENDIPITY – The Stray Russian Blue

  2. What amuses me are the people that partake online and say things like “I don’t belong to Facebook, they know everything you are doing” or I avoid this and that on the computer, because they are spying on you. The same people refuse the extra points system in the local supermarket because they know what you are buying. Does it really matter? You can just as well be computerless and if the supermarket does not know what you are buying, their shelves would be empty of the goods you want.
    It is all a matter of common sense. The Swiss government once collected fiche on its suspicious citizens, the ones that belonged to the wrong political party, or liked to comment stuff in a way that was not citizen conform. It was discovered that it was all stored in a government area on the top floor somewhere. The government had to admit it had been spying on certain people and the fiche were destroyed, but you could write a letter to the government telling you you wanted to see what they had written about you. It was unbelievable who they were spying on. I did not ask for mine, but probably from my Zürich days as an emigrant, I was probably observed and listed somewhere. There were really swiss citizens that were spying on the others. They were the good old pre computer days. Today it is done much more clinically.

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    • The shopping and advertising software is annoying sometimes, but it doesn’t make my temperature soar or raise my blood pressure. That’s what the world is about selling stuff. Buying stuff. Making new stuff and selling it too.

      Our government collects tons of stuff but it always seems to be the wrong stuff about the wrong people. Only in TV shows to they seem to get it right most of the time. I think that in the end, live law enforcement people and other human agents are much more efficient at spotting potential trouble. Computers do what they do … but they don’t make judgments about what they see. Human beings recognize subtle differences and nuances … and computers NEVER will be able to do that.

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  3. I just wish Google would start unencrypting those search terms that no longer appear in my stats page due to them “caring” out our privacy three years ago. So many entertaining funny and bizarre terms that I’ll never know about anymore… all to protect the privacy of someone I’ll never know…

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    • I know. Those old search terms were great fodder for funny posts. I didn’t know they were protecting someone else. I thought they were just getting rid of some of the weirdos and scammers. Today as really reminded me of how many weirdos are OUT there. Some very bizarre messages from people who think they know me, but I’m sure they don’t. Lord, I HOPE they don’t! These are the aluminum foil cap people. Eek.

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  4. I found your post very interesting. My thoughts on the subject are as long as we are living our lives properly and according to the rules our parents taught us, especially, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, who cares who is watching us.

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    • We live such a boring life, I can’t imagine what anyone could possibly find by looking at us. Two old people watching oldies channels and BBC murder mysteries with a dollop of cop show and a soupcon of late night comedy. If we were both still working, we might be more interesting, but we don’t go anywhere or do very much. The thing is, because the spy programs use such huge all-encompassing nets, the odds of them trapping important and dangerous people is relatively low. I think they need to hire some better developers to find tune the programs they use to find stuff that matter and not “everything.”

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    • And if it were in English, I would read it. I notice Google Translate didn’t offer to change the language for me.

      I would not be surprised at ANY of the agencies provoking actions. I think they have always done that, at least as long as I’ve been reading about this stuff … like 50 years. Probably before then, too. They certainly did it a LOT during both world wars. It’s a classic technique for getting groups out from under cover doing something that makes them “arrestable.” You have to wonder if they hadn’t been provoked if they would have done anything, or just been one of the groups that talks the talk, but never walks the walk.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have yet to be impressed by the ‘tailored to me personally” ads I see ANYWHERE online, be it google or Yahoo, or Microsoft. When you are bombarded by Russian Brides, laxatives, and auto ads none of which I have ever expressed an interest in, except to hit delete, my concern about personally tailored ads sorta wanes.
    And I do try to keep my browsing sites to a minimum, and delete the history every night. For what it’s worth.
    Beyond that, I don’t pay a lot of attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They always know exactly what I’ve been looking at. It’s pretty funny, sometimes, when I actually finally buy something I’ve been pondering for a long time (it can take me years to buy a computer, for example), they will offer to sell me the same computer every day for a year. They apparently can track what we look at, but not when we really buy. Or the databases are very slow to update. I no longer get random ads for erectile dysfunction medication, which is actually an improvement. These data mining products that analyze you, personally, are getting more and more sophisticated. IF we are going to be bombarded with advertising, it might as well be stuff in which I have some slight interest. Penis enhancement and porn never really did it for me.

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  6. I’m beginning to wonder if the encyclopedia that I have on our book self should be kept? However, there is a lot of information missing from it now. Maybe the internet will go down.
    Leslie

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  7. The other day I called to get an insurance quote for a car, the guy on the other end said “Will you be the only driver, because it looks like there are five other people in your house, Elena so and so and Michael so and so” and. Whoa!! I stopped him right there and said I don’t know how you got that information but I am hanging up now. Marilyn, my thought process was, the last thing I need is for my landlady, Elena, to know that my insurance company knows her business. I’m more concerned for her though it did seem a bit creepy to know this insurance man had access to that type of information over the phone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The creepy part of all that is, the information people now get is indiscriminate. They know that five people live where you do, but not what the relationship is of any of them. and it’s way easy to get that info now. Just check out Spokeo, or WhoIs or any online search engine that majors in humans.
      Type in the name of a friend, and you will be able to find out family names, possibly (if you use Google Earth) where they live, who they live next to. Former addresses. Pay a few bucks and you can get wildly detailed reports on them.
      It sounds like the insurance people utiliized one of those search places.

      Bottom line, there is no more privacy. Even if you don’t use a computer, someone else does.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Agreed. That’s pretty much my point. Unless you are living in a cave on a mountaintop in the wilderness — and you never go into town for groceries — someone knows you’re there. If they really WANT to find you, they will find you. Of course, you may not actually be who they are looking for. You may have the same name as someone else (and if you have a common name, it happens a LOT) … or someone lived there at some time, but no longer. I get calls trying to collect bills from people who haven’t lived here in many years and who owned this house in the early 1970s (and I don’t even know if they are still alive — and I never met them).

        Mainly, most of us are of little interest to governments or terrorists, but we are important targets for those who want to scam, sell, and collect. They sell and scam groups are absolutely RELENTLESS.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Maybe Google was the winner in the search engine war in the early days but I believe this is no longer! Lately there has been designed a better, faster and more reliable search engine with newer technology that will not collect any personal information.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have yet to find any other search engine that actually FINDS stuff I’m looking for. Maybe they don’t collect personal data, but honestly, the day i signed up for Facebook and then became a blogger? I also resigned a certain level of privacy. you really can’t have it both ways, you know. If you put yourself “out there,” then you ARE out there, like it or not. That’s the price of admission to the online world.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. OMG! I just wrote an article entitled ‘Have consumer profiling gone too far?’. It sort explained how stores take your data and use it towards predictive analysis. They don’t really care about the person, but they just care about taking your money. Data is everywhere and it’s not going away.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Data mining has been a major (and ever growing) business for decades. Most people don’t realize all of those store “discount” cards are actually tracking us. Cookies on the internet, “discount” cards in the mall. Everyone is watching us all the time. They know more about my habits than I do!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I strongly feel the same way Marilyn about the government tracking us and along with the stores too. It’s like we can never get away from being followed. Those “discount” cards at the stores are just one way they are mining our data. It’s no wonder companies like Amazon.com are the top of sales today. By the way who doesn’t like Amazon they have sweet deals sometimes.

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