STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism
By - July 05, 2017

Editor’s note: The following comes from a longtime journalist who specializes in writing for major media outlets and private companies about robots, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Would you allow a government official into your bedroom on your honeymoon? Or let your mother-in-law hear and record every conversation that takes place in your home or car – especially disagreements with your husband or wife? Would you let a stranger sit in on your children’s playdates so that he could better understand how to entice them with candy or a doll?

Guess what? If you bring your phone with you everywhere, or engage with a whole-house robo helper such as Alexa or Echo or Siri or Google, you’re opening up every aspect of your life to government officials, snooping (possibly criminal) hackers, and advertisers targeting you, your spouse and your children.

The following is not a screed against technology. But it is a plea to consider what we’re giving up when we hand over privacy, wholesale, to people whom we can neither see nor hear… people whose motives we cannot fathom.

The widened lanes of communication, and the conveniences that Smart Phones, wireless communities, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have fomented are indeed helpful to some extent. They allow, for example, for remote working, which allows people to spend more time with their families and less time commuting. In areas such as the energy business, the field of predictive analytics, born of Big Data and the Industrial Internet, helps mitigate the danger of sending humans to oil rigs at sea. 

And on a personal level, of course, the conveniences are innumerable: Grandparents living far away can “see” their grandchildren more often than they could in years past, thanks to technology such as FaceTime and Skype.

People save money: As you walk by a restaurant, a lunch coupon suddenly appears on your phone.

And they can save time: Someday soon, the Internet of Things might tell your coffee maker and alarm clock to go off before its normal time, because bad weather is coming and your son’s school bus will arrive 15 minutes early to avoid the fog.

But there’s a corollary we must think about. (Two corollaries, actually, one being the long-term effects of Electromagnetic Fields on our health, and especially on our brains. But so far, few studies have been funded to examine this.)

We must acknowledge that we’re gaining all this convenience at the expense of our privacy.

When you ask Siri or Echo or Alexa or Google (and others of their ilk) something, it’s great to get an immediate answer… but the corollary is that Siri and Echo and Alexa and Google are listening to every conversation you’re having with your spouse, every fight you’re having with your kids, and every bit of heavy breathing that might be taking place in the dark.

That response inherently grants legitimacy to the search in the first place. The implication is that if you have nothing to “hide,” then the tech companies, the advertisers, the government, etc. should indeed have full access to every aspect of your life. 

Note that the word in the phrase is “hide” and not “protect”, thereby implying that all that is not shared with any intrusive party must be something nefarious, something you’re trying to keep from those who have a right to it.

And if you think about it, “nothing” is the wrong word, too: Forgive the vulgarity here, but would you use the toilet in front of your mother-in-law? Would you allow an IRS official into your bedroom at night? Or to move into your home and record every conversation that takes place? Would you open your private diary to your spouse’s ex or to your children? Clearly, there are some things we do indeed wish to keep private.

In other words, if it’s OK to want to protect the privacy of one’s genitals or one’s private thoughts, why is it wrong to want to protect one’s conversations or whereabouts?

Totalitarianism and Tech – Caveat Emptor

Privacy is the first thing that a totalitarian state attempts to destroy.

Ask anyone who lived behind the Berlin Wall or in Stalinist Russia. If you know what parents are teaching their children, you can intervene and destroy the family, a primary goal of totalitarianism. If you know someone’s secrets or vulnerabilities, you can manipulate him. Knowledge truly is power, especially if you are a big state wanting to control people.

As a child, I was a huge fan of figure skating, and in particular of the great, then-East German champion Katarina Witt. In an interview a few years ago, she revealed her shock that the Stasi collected thousands of records of all her comings and goings and private conversations. The spies even noted when she had been intimate with her boyfriend. When the government knows all, no one is immune, and everyone can be controlled.

And just think, they were documenting Miss Witt’s activities and conversations by hand, back in the 1970s and ‘80s. Now, nearly every single aspect of our lives is being recorded in real time. Every email, every text, every phone conversation. Every time you allow your phone to know where you are, your whereabouts are noted. Soon, that Internet of Things — IoT — which already connects 50 billion “things” through an internet of its own, will be coming to your refrigerator, your dishwasher, your coffeemaker. Happy Alexa and GE “smart fridge” commercials are airing as we speak.

And not only are we letting all of this happen, we’re welcoming it. Twenty years ago, it was Miss Witt’s friends who recorded her personal conversations, and strangers who spied on her. But as she has noted, these days, we give a lot of our privacy away of our own free will. If someone were parked outside your house, surveilling you day and night, it would be unnerving, no? But we’re fine keeping our phones on us 24/7, and telling Facebook personal details about ourselves.

We do this because of the convenience, which will be increasing in scope as quickly as do the various surveillance mechanisms. Will it be convenient when your fridge tells your phone that you’re running low on orange juice (as the bottle will have a sensor, too)? Perhaps.

But will it be convenient when that same fridge tells your health insurance company that you’ve got ice cream in the freezer? And when your rates go up because of it?

Worse – will it be convenient when that fridge listens to your kitchen conversations and tells the government that you’ll be organizing a political discussion group on Tuesday? Or when it tells that bizarre man you went on one date with, who hacked your system, that your daughter has a recital this Friday night?

This is not a conspiracy theory. This is an extrapolation of what happens when people who crave power gain access to vast amounts of personal information.

The more you tell Facebook, or Siri, or Google, or FourSquare, or your phone, or your washing machine, then the more of your own personal power and privacy you’re giving up. (And the more photos you post of your young children, the more of their power you’re relinquishing. So, parents — stop. Now.) 

Bottom line: Once the state (or a company) knows your weaknesses, they can exploit them. They can go after you in myriad ways. And I don’t just mean to “punish” you… I mean to manipulate you.

If a politician has access to your personal proclivities, then he can easily craft, via Artificial Intelligence, a targeted campaign that caters to exactly what the data tell him you want to hear. In the future, he could even warp news stories, video and even audio in real time to appeal to you for gain.

If a potential employer is considering you for a job, then she can (already) access every YouTube video you’ve ever watched, every public post you’ve ever made, and, soon, everything else you’ve put online. In the future, she might be able to access everything you’ve ever said in your home or in your car, or every video of you taken by your television when you think it’s off. 

Those conversations and images will be sold as commodities. “Data” = “money” and “power.” Companies will soon specialize in mining all that personal data; they’ll be paid to flag “inappropriate” conversations, texts or images. Think about it.

A private banker I spoke to in Asia is proud of the fact that his bank is working in concert with FinTech to develop Know Your Customer technology on steroids: It will find every single email, text message, photo, post, and even online search that you’ve ever done so that it can (and this sounds so innocuous) “paint a holistic and predictive picture of client needs.”

That predictive part is critical. Not only do data tell those who hold them where you’ve been, but AI and Big Data analysis can predict where you’re going (both physically and psychologically)… and here’s the really scary part… before you know it.

That gives the data holders real powers of manipulation. The winners of a battle are nearly always the ones with the advanced information, the ones who can launch the surprise attack.

Technology can lead to convenience, but it can also lead to abuses of power. In its extreme, that is called totalitarianism.

In the end, we must take precautions if we’re to have anything close to liberty. Some of you have, no doubt, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent book from 2007, Liberal Fascism, the hardcover of which features a smiley face graphic with a Hitler mustache. In the introduction, Mr. Goldberg quotes a segment from a Bill Maher show in which George Carlin says, in essence, (and I’m paraphrasing) that “when fascism comes to America it will be wearing a smiley face.”

I’d go a step further — it will be cloaked in an emoji seemingly innocuous, friendly, and ubiquitous.

We must stop giving away our privacy. We must start thinking about personal “data” as the commodity that it already is, and even as a weapon that can be used against us.

If we don’t stop and reconsider what we’re giving away, not only will there be nothing to hide, but nowhere to hide.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • James Clander

    How true — excellent article that should be acted on.

  • We should meditate on these things – but there’s a lot not considered in this article, like how if businesses or governments can have this technology, well given software is software, and thus copyable (which let’s face it, AI is), then won’t this technology be democratized and usable by ANYONE out there so that we could ALL ‘manipulate’ each other in realtime if we really wanted?

    That’s the beauty of the Internet (and AI, and 3D printing too): it actually gives power to the masses.

    So instead of being manipulated by the mere knowledge of this technology itself (see what I did there), let’s be more powerful than that. Let’s use our brains to realize this is an information war and USE our independence of thought and sense of agency, and realize that fear (one’s choice) only is more controlling to ourselves than any other meta reaction.

    Our real power (in the face of this technology) is FREE CHOICE, to NOT be swayed or manipulated like a ragdoll no matter WHAT phenomena is in front of us.

    • Phil Scott

      Perhaps we should all start targeting our politicians and start the manipulations!

      • SnakePlissken

        The politicians are already being targeted. If a politician doesn’t vote for a bill the Elite wants, they just show them their browser history and personal emails.

        • Phil Scott

          Brilliant. I didn’t know that.

          • LawrenceNeal

            ALL politicians are owned, top to bottom.

        • That is true, it is why their behavior seems so erratic from the outside.

      • MetaCynic

        I think the real targets of all this data vacuuming are powerful and rich people such as government officials and business people. The objective here by the deep state is to blackmail these strategically placed people into carrying out the wishes of the real power behind the throne. We small fish will be ignored unless we get uppity and make waves.

        There is a reason why the rich and powerful seem to have more hidden scandals in their backgrounds than the masses. Scandal is the price of admission into the Big Club. The controlled members of this club, who do have something to hide but whose status the masses envy, probably have less sovereignty than does the average Joe.

  • Double Jeopardy

    Already ARE doing some of the tasks described in this article. Law enforcement agencies investigating whomever they please without warrants under unofficial Bills of Attainder, presumption that all are guilty and must prove innocence in order to remain free. Multinational corporate entitities are extracting deeply private information through their legal teams that research court cases involving their regular customers. All of this information is used to “craft” how the customer is even treated by identified personality traits. The intrusions are out of control – or I should say in total control of super-wealthy law firms and their super-wealthy international corporate entities.

  • AmeriKa, The Rogue State

    Arguing That You Don’t Care About The Right To Privacy Because You Have Nothing To Hide Is No Different Than Saying You Don’t Care About Free Speech Because You Have Nothing To Say

    “Some might say “I don’t care if they violate my privacy; I’ve got nothing to hide.” Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they “need” a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority”. ~ Edward Snowden

    The U.S. government claims if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. While that same government imprisons whistle blowers. Ironic?

  • georgesilver

    Another “scare” promotion for the “powers that be”. If you can convince a person that their every move is being watched then you can control them. It doesn’t really matter if any of this is really true. The idea is enough to control people.
    In my ‘working’ life I showed that if people believed they could be penalised for not sticking to a rule for cheap airline tickets they would invariably conform. In actual fact there was no way of policing it cost effectively.
    It’s obvious that governments haven’t got a clue as to who is in a country or even where they are or what they are doing.
    I’m wondering lately if the Daily Bell has gone over to the “dark side”.

    • We think this is worthy of discussion. As it says at the beginning, this is not anti-tech or a scare tactic, it is to bring up the real issue: what is our relationship with the data industry, and what should it be?

      • georgesilver

        Fair enough but wouldn’t it have been more enlightening and positive to have done an article on how the “all powerful state” is not as powerful and all seeing as it likes to advertise itself. I know people who are frightened to look at their bank accounts online because they have been continually bombarded with scare stories. They really believe there are at least 100 snoopers looking over their shoulders every time they log-on. As fas I’m concerned the “control system’ is being run by the Wizard of Oz…. just a guy behind a curtain pretending. Governments most of the time haven’t a clue what’s going on and as for banks they usually have no idea what their employees are up to. We are constantly being fed by the corrupt media and also much of the ‘alternative’ media that Big Brother is real.
        ps. Did they ever find bin Laden?

        • JohnnyZ

          Well,
          The state strives to be “Big Brother” and in the areas the state desires to be such, it is. It also gathers a lot of information that later can be analyzed or used. The fact that it has not been used yet, does not mean that the practice is not potentially dangerous and should not be discontinued or one should not protect oneself from it.
          On the other hand, and if you are not up to speed, bin Laden was just another”boogeyman” and he died most likely late in 2001. He was also a CIA agent and his family has close tie with the Bushes. For example, the bin Ladens were flown out of the USA by a special charter flight, while all other flights were grounded (if I remember correctly).

    • Sam Fox

      George, how much data can the NSA installations hold?
      Don’t forget, big brother is just getting started.
      I don’t think Daily Bell is ‘dark side’ because of this article. DB didn’t write the piece, but I surmise they published it to wake us up to what is now over the digital horizon & though not 100% disseminated, is heading that direction.
      SamFox

    • Prestidigitation. The key to all successful control of all.
      We call the social application propaganda.
      I WILL post more under a new post (not buried response as here)

  • TimeToWakeUPAmerica

    Welcome to the Technocratic “Jew” World Order.

    Read the book: _ALBION & ZION UNITED: The Brizi/Jewzi World Menace_, by Veronika Kuzniar.

    After reading THAT book, you’ll completely comprehend how it happened, that “Jews” took control over the so-called “British” Empire, and thereby HIJACKED the entirety of Western Civilization, including ALL its primary institutions. This is why America is now supposedly $20 TRILLION in odious, unrepayable “debt”. You’ll read about the usual suspects: Rothschilds, Warburgs, but also about not so frequently mentioned families, like Montefiores, Sassoons, Samuels ~ and MANY of them ~ along with the Old Aristocracy or “Nobility” of England, which intermarried with the wealthy BANKING & MERCHANT “JEW”-ISH families. You’ll read about the Opium Trade with China. You’ll read about the inner machinations of the creation of the State of (Rothschild-)Israel, and what the REAL! purpose is, behind the State of Israel. The book was originally written in 1940, in Germany, during WWII, from an NSDP or NSDAP perspective. PRICELESS. (NOTE: I am a TRUTH-SEEKER, a researcher, an historian, not a “skin-head” or “Neo-Nazi”, btw. Those terms are used mainly by those who also use the term “anti-semitism” to suit their purposes). Here is where I obtained MY copy: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=22455860822

    Like I said: Welcome to the Technocratic “Jew” World Order!

  • TimeToWakeUPAmerica

    It’s called “Smart Technology” or the “Internet of Things”.

    It’s right in front of everyone’s face, and yet many still can’t see it!

  • Bill Smith

    In addition to the ridiculous cost, yet another reason I don’t own a cell phone. And my home computer has no camera or microphone.

  • mesimpson

    “They don’t call it a web for nothing”, said the cyber spider to the fly.

    Meanwhile, the government still spends tax dollars maintaining the “Do Not Call Registry”, as if that’s going to protect anyone from commercial predators this day and age.

    • Bill Ross

      Hah! In Canada the “do not call registry” is for sale. Telemarketers buy it, harass these people who have chosen “no harassment” and, then, when they are flush with cash, the gov’t pounces

  • R. Shultz

    Using and relying on this level of technology is what makes ‘one’ stupid….Can’t read a map?..Can’t set your alarm clock?…No longer interact with people for real/personal information?…Welcome to the Idiocrasy.

  • crabcake

    Do you “think” about your chores rather than doing them? A list is just a list–it does not get it done.

  • Sam Fox

    Just because I have ‘nothing to hide’ does NOT mean I should be forced to live in a digital house of glass.

    As I see it, all this is fulfilling satan’s ambitions as found in Jeremiah 14–

    12 How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer and daystar, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, you who weakened and laid low the nations [O blasphemous, satanic king of Babylon!]

    13 And you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of assembly in the uttermost north.

    14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

    Since the enemy of mankind is NOT all knowing, all powerful or all present, it uses technology to weakly imitate those attributes. Attributes that belong only to Elohim the Creator God, the all invincible I AM.

    Here is a link to the whole chapter from the Amplified Classic Edition at BibleGateWay–

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+14&version=AMPC

    This battle cannot be won with human strength or ingenuity. Though the spiritual war for control of the planet was won by Yeshua Messiah at His resurrection, the full implementation of His victory has yet to be fully revealed.

    SamFox

  • Alleged Comment

    You got it ass-backwards. Government should be worrying about citizens spying and keeping an eye on government officials.

    Can work two ways you know. Why not start PROMOTING the other one??? Afterall, according to AVR citizens are the MOST powerful people in the world.

    The rest are manipulators.

  • Bill Ross

    I have a technical solution for this. https://www.rossco.org/modules/publisher/item.php?itemid=3

    Beta test starting soon

  • crabcake

    Get away from your cell phone. Leave it at home when you run errands. Yes, it might come in handy if you have a problem with your car, but you will survive.

  • Prestidigitation. The key to all successful control of all.
    We call the social application of it “propaganda”.
    We happily accept it under another name which has the same protective powers of itself called Advertising.
    Given the right “spin”, anything can be sold – anything. As proof I give you:
    “United Nations Agenda 21”
    Finally, “Political Correctness” – the ultimate gag. So easy.

loading