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Privacy Lost! - The Piracy of Privacy Revisited - Now Everything is Listening in!

By Hector Cisneros
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In John Milton's Epic Poem, Paradise Lost, we see the dilemma that Adam and Eve found themselves in when they chose to partake of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of  Knowledge of Good and Evil. Mankind today has also found itself in an ethical dilemma where we have to choose between the convenience of using Artificial Intelligence to make life "easier and faster" at the cost of giving up our ability to live private lives without big brother listing in on our every word? Today we live in a world where every smart device tracks our movements, listens to what we say and records all of our actions with our families, friends and co-workers. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will discuss this dilemma and explore ways to recapture some of the privacy we have lost. So read on and tell all  your friends that all is not lost. There is still time to take back some of what has been given away.

In my article "The Piracy of Privacy - The Looting of Privacy in America", written back in 2014, I explored  how we were losing our liberties for a multitude of reasons, including the rise of modern spying, multiple, ongoing wars, the rise of computer technologies, the dependence created by accepting free internet applications and the increases in trust placed on big businesses and government. What was lost in our haste to embrace this brave new world was that fact that these advanced technologies were riddled with tracking and recording mechanisms designed to develop profiles of our lives. A profile of what we do, who we interact with, where we go, and what we buy gives the compiler of the profiles new measures of control with which can then be used to influence and manipulate our lives.  Some of you reading this are saying to yourselves that, "Hector is just paranoid!"  Read on and make up your own mind. 
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We have written about this subject on several occasions. Privacy is closely tied to freedom and personal responsibility. Its the respect of our freedoms and then taking responsibility for keeping them safe, is where we are falling short as a country. This is an important subject because our country was founded on the principles of personal freedom and responsibility. Now these two attributes of American life are all but gone.  Here is a short list of previous articles that are still relevant today.

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There was a movie that came out in 2010 called the Minority Report starring Tom Cruise in the leading role. The central theme of this movie was that the world was protected by a police force that stopped crimes before they happened via the use of three psychics tied into a computer system that could predict future crimes. In essence, it gave this society the ability to convict people of "Pre-Crimes", before a crime could happen. 

Today, there are multiple companies that have developed "Predictive Crime software". A simple Google search (which is recording your query and following actions) will bring up a multitude of listings including; "Motorola Solutions - Public Safety Command Center Software Suite", PREDPOL - What. Where. When. software, and HunchLab's - Shot Spotter among others. That same search will also bring up a list of articles discussing the dilemmas of the prejudice and bias that these artificial intelligence analytical applications may be creating when they are being used for police work. 

Watch this video about Algorithm Helping Police Predict Crime | NBC News

For example, in the online version of Smithsonian you can read; "Artificial Intelligence Is Now Used to Predict Crime. But Is It Biased?, and in Wired, you can read: "How the LAPD Uses Data to Predict Crime".  Both of these articles discuss how hard it is to produce artificially intelligent predictive software that is not biased to people who live in high crime areas. These products are far from perfect in their capabilities, but regardless of how fair or biased these applications are, they are being implemented or experimented with by police forces throughout the country (and the world). Check out this article from Motherboard Tech by Vice; "Dozens of Cities Have Secretly Experimented With Predictive Policing Software".

The bias created by using these applications has already started. In the online magazine, you will find several articles about how several police forces are being sued because they allegedly made mistakes while using these types of applications. Two articles worth reading are; "LAPD officials defend predictive policing as some groups call for its end" and "Police departments sued over predictive policing programs". Similarly, in the Washington Post, you can read: "Police are using software to predict crime. Is it a ‘holy grail’ or biased against minorities?".
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Surveillance and the use of A.I. software and devices are not limited to the police force. In fact, our government is one of many entities that develops and uses surveillance applications. Whether you believe the US attack that happened in 911 was caused by terrorists or by some super secret covert government organization is irrelevant. Today our government (as are most others) is up to their ears in secret spying programs, including spying on its own citizens. 

Whether its the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, or our military, our government is spying on us in a multitude of ways. My Google search brought up many recent articles about how the NSA has been ratcheting up its data collection of US citizens. A New York times article had the headline; "N.S.A. ‘Unmaskings’ of U.S. Identities Soared Last Year, Report Says" and another article's headline boasts "N.S.A. Triples Collection of Data From U.S. Phone Companies". In fact, the New York times has a whole section devoted to Surveillance of Citizens by Government

The 2016 election is another good example of how  both the government and media giants try to influence the public opinion. In a recent article found in "Real Clear Politics", you have the headline - "Media Refuses To Admit Government Spied On Trump Campaign Because They Were Complicit In Russia Hoax" and in the New York Times you can read; "F.B.I. Sent Investigator Posing as Assistant".
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Now I don't want you to think that its only our government that's doing this. If you read a few of the early listed articles on our Working the Web to Win blog, you will find articles about foreign governments hacking our government, utilities, infrastructures, municipalities and business entities. An article I wrote in 2016 called "Can Internet Giants Google & Facebook, Steal the Election?", I discussed how media giants used A.I. algorithms that demonstrated search bias against then candidate Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders while favoring Hillary Clinton. 

Now lets not forget the multitude of privacy and security articles we wrote about how artificial intelligence can be a double edged sword that provides useful information and actions while at the same time stealing our privacy.  If you type in the phrase "Privacy and Security" in the search box on our blog, you will find more than three dozen articles worth reading that delve into this subject.

And just in case you think that corporate surveillance on us was taken care of by the aftermath of the election, you would be sadly mistaken. A recent Washington Post headline proclaimed;  "Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time", which talks about how one of America's most beloved A.I. tech devices have been spying on us since day one. If that headline doesn't scare you, how about this one from The Register - "You know that silly fear about Alexa recording everything and leaking it online? It just happened", and from NBC online with, "How to see everything Amazon Echo has recorded on you", plus from CNN online - "Amazon reportedly employs thousands of people to listen to your Alexa conversations". I don't have anything against Amazon, in fact, I am sure the Google Assistant, Apple SIRI and even Microsoft Cortana have gotten into the recording act from time to time (if not all the time).
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In three previous articles on our blog, I provided lists of solutions you can use to improve your personal privacy and security. In the previously listed article the “Piracy of Privacy - The looting of Privacy in America”, I provided  a dozen ways  that you can use to improve your privacy. In a later article entitled “Is Google Watching you”, I further provided another half dozen ways to protect yourself when using the internet. And finally in  my article called "The State of Internet Privacy & Security in America Today", I provided another seven ways to increase your privacy and security.

I want to be clear. I am not anti-government nor anti-big business or even anti-artificial intelligence. I have written this article in the hope that all citizens of the world will demand that governments and businesses be held accountable for any abuses of power they take part in. No entity should be accumulating vast data stores on citizens of any country. The mere act of creating profiles leads to assumption that are often erroneous. 

We must demand that our government stop surveilling us without due process of law! We must demand that businesses inform us when they profile us and in turn give us control to stop it we so desire. We must demand that businesses be held accountable when they allow their databases to be breached by hackers costing countless individuals to lose financial data. And finally we must demand that the use of artificial intelligence to be used only for the betterment of the citizenry and if it is found to be otherwise, that repercussions be implemented against the companies gathering said profile data. 
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Again, I don't want you to take my word for anything written in this article, I want you to do your own investigation! I want you to awaken to the facts that we live in a world that is absent of privacy and that our freedoms are at risk. Do yourself a favor and read all the articles linked in this blog post. Better still read and share this with as many people as you can. Our Privacy may be Lost, but it doesn't mean that all hope is lost as well.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
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This article discusses the loss of privacy and how all Americans no longer can depend on our government to protect our privacy and security which show how much freedom we have already lost. It provides many links to dozens of related articles and includes a link to the accompanying BlogTalkRadio show for this episode.

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If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. I recommend checking out the links on the blog, along with checking out other related articles on our Show Notes Page.  Also, don’t forget to listen to the BlogTalkRadio show on this subject. If you have a related useful comment or opinion about this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog. Also, don’t forget to share us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.

Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success” and the co-author along with his business partner Carl Weiss of their hit book also called “Working the Web to Win.”

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