Monday, December 23, 2013

THE NSA, METADATA AND OVERSTOCK.COM

Quite a while ago, I bought a titanium ring from overstock.com. You can guess one of the unintended consequences. Everywhere I went on the interweb, ads from overstock.com popped up. I bought a ring once. I'll buy a ring again, won't I? Google will make it easy for me.

I don't live on the interweb but I shop and I communicate with friends there. I have, in other words, surrendered segments of my privacy for convenience sake. Harsh words but they are accurate. Google knows more about me than anyone except my wife and, to be honest, there are things that Google knows about me that my wife doesn't.

It won't be long before face recognition software will scan me when I enter a store. Coupons that are tailored to my shopping history will be sent to my phone. There will be no bothersome lines at cash registers. My phone will be the equivalent of an EZ Pass.  I'll just walk with my purchases past a certain line on the floor and my bank account will be debited on the spot.

The retailer will have me in his/her database. The wholesaler will. The manufacturer will. My bank will use my purchase for its own nefarious purposes. And so on...

I can avoid the interweb ads for titanium rings fairly easily. Ad blocking software has kept pace. But what do I do about the metadata? Go off the grid? That's much harder than it sounds. Cathey thought that she was a relative unknown until I searched her...on the interweb. To REALLY get off the grid you REALLY have to work hard. So what's the Risk/Benefit Analysis?

I've done no reporting. But when you think about it, what are the odds that I'm going to make just the right phone call or email to just the right address using just the right key words in just the right order to raise a flag? Pretty long odds, I would wager. One must take into account the odd security-cleared Peeping Tom who, in a moment of pure ennui, decides that my communications might make for an interesting diversion. But again, long odds.

Yes, I know. It's the principle of the thing. Slippery slope. Fascism.

Nah, I don't buy it. Our politicians are already bought and paid for. Being true fascists would be too much like work.

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