Archive Monthly Archives: January 2016

Is That A Two Way Mirror In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

I wrote in a previous post about hackers breaking into the webcam on your computer. Well, I think it's almost more of a concern that the camera on your smartphone is hackable to that same person.

Just so we’re clear here- everything is hackable. Everything. Where there’s a will…

Most of us use the camera on our phones a lot more than the camera on our computer, which makes covering the phone camera more of a nuisance. Special stickers are available to purchase for computer cameras that I’m sure work fine. I’ve always opted for a simpler approach to the sticky part of a post-it note stretching across the camera. It stays on there as long as I want and peels off with no issue of residue at all. Then I just get a new piece when it’s time to replace it. Extremely simple and costs next to nothing.

That same problem affecting the smartphone camera isn’t so easily remedied. Who wants to remove and replace a piece of tape every time you use your phone camera? It’s just not practical at all.

We need a little ingenuity.

I figured out a way to fix this with no hassle. I’m a big fan of the company Saddleback Leather. Been buying up their products for years. They sell an iPhone case that slides down over the top of the phone, like a mitten over your hand. I don’t want to make this sound like a commercial, but I do think this case is worth checking out because it is awesome. All their products are guaranteed for 100 years. A warranty second to none. So they’re made extremely well. They fit kind of snug at first, so to help the leather form properly to the phone for optimal protection.

As you can see, the case is designed to cover the whole screen, for purposes of protection. It also works with the matter we’re discussing here as I figured if you slide the case up all the way to the point that the entire screen is visible, you can still utilize the whole screen while blocking the camera to any hacker. So when the phone is not being used, the camera is covered. And when you want to use it, you can slide the case up, able to block the camera if you wish and conduct your business at the same time.

There’s always a solution.

Are You Opting In To The New World Order?

These days, if you’re on the internet, you’re doing it. You can’t set up an email account, join any social media site or shop any major online retailer without doing it. You also can’t bank without doing it.

The state of “Privacy Policies” today is not any particular websites policy about protecting your privacy. On the contrary, it’s their statement about how they may use any information you provide to them, or they can gather from your other internet activity away from their site and sometimes even your computer. Much, much more often than not, these are cleverly written and physically formatted so that no one wants to read them, so it’s now common practice to just automatically click the box to accept the conditions. But more and more we are learning that many companies are up to “other than good” intent. At least, not in our favor.

It’s not a matter of morality for the people in these businesses. It’s, “if the law lets us do it, then we will do what we can get away with until we no longer can, or until the slap on the wrist hurts too much.” So they are forcing legislation by way of a lack of moral judgement. That is another way the “World Wide Web” is like the wild, wild west. There is little to no policing, so it’s up to the individual to protect herself. When you accept the “terms and conditions” put forth by a website, especially a “free” site, these days, you could reasonably ask yourself if you are opting into the New World Order.

I recently watched the documentary “Terms And Conditions May Apply” again. You know, the one during which the filmmaker goes “undercover” to meet Mark Zuckerberg and ask him about Facebook’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy?

It also shows an IM chat with Zuckerberg where he refers to Facebook users as “dumb f@$%s” for trusting him with their personal information.

It also has a few “interesting” anecdotes with former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Check it out. It’s a valuable primer on the subject and will get you thinking, discerning, about how you conduct yourself online.

It’s kinda like the adage, “you can’t make a good deal with a bad guy.”

The Illusion Of Safety

Get someone scared enough of everything and they'll submit to anything.

I saw a video this morning of a segment on Good Morning America. The story involves a 10-year-old girl named Vendela Brainerd-Payne at an airport in North Carolina with her father. A bottle of juice that she was carrying set them off and the next thing dad and daughter know she is getting the old TSA pat-down (which lasted almost 2 minutes.)

Apparently her cell phone went off during the whole ordeal also.

Now, I wanna make a point, but before I do, I will acknowledge one thing. In 2016, we should all, by now, be aware that the TSA will give you a hard time if you have liquids, at least over a certain amount. And we probably shouldn’t be surprised if they give us a hard time if our cell phone starts ringing or making noises. Personally, I prefer to go incognito. When I get to the airport, I take my belt off, remove everything from my pockets and put them in my carry-on bag and turn my phone off. I think it’s ridiculous and silly, but it minimizes my risk of being singled out for stupid reasons as forgetting to take my belt off. Or a few coins set the metal detector off now I have to be frisked.

So with that said, let me say this- the TSA as an organization, is highly suspect. What has happened in this country for us to “reasonably” suspect that a ten-year-old girl carrying a pouch of juice needs to be “violated” and made “uncomfortable” by being frisked?

Nothing.

There is nothing that has happened before or after the Dept. Of Homeland Security or TSA was created to REASONABLY warrant a little girl to be frisked for a carrying a pouch of juice.

Vendela

On Good Morning America, Michael Strahan, the cohost says he wouldn’t mind his two daughters being subjected to the same treatment as Vendela because it’s better to “err on the side of caution.” Because “people could use a child to get things through the TSA.”

That is what I call the “illusion of safety.”

Americans have too often and for too long been willing to trade their liberty, rights and sovereignty for the illusion of safety. When one doesn’t have any (again) REASONABLE references for frisking a 10-year-old girl in public at an airport but does so, that is called major, massive, total defeat of consciousness and it’s happening on our collective watch. How does that father explain to his little girl why they did that? He can't tell her about the time a little girl smuggled lighter fluid in a juice pouch onto a plane and killed innocent passengers. 

The deeper fear roots itself into our minds, the further we will reach for safety by any means, at any cost, no questions asked, no other aspects to consider. Safety above everything. Get someone scared enough of everything and they'll submit to anything.

This experience alone isn’t the only landmark reference she’ll have going into her future. The discussion that she has with her parent(s) as to finding a meaning and explanation as to WHY it happened and why we live in a world where someone would physically violate her for carrying a pouch of juice onto an airplane.

This is the world in which our children are being born.

What does this have to do with Clearing Your Tracks online, in the digital world and the Illusion Of Safety? Well, there’s obviously the invasion of privacy factor. But furthermore, it’s a directly related matter because similar rules apply. In the physical world of the TSA, it’s just more concrete and visible. Except with the digital world, we go a step (or more) further. There is the NSA, which has tremendous abilities for spying and tracking. But virtually anyone, should they choose, could be a potential TSA-style invader of your digital self. Such invasions are happening in the physical and digital worlds. It’s just on a vastly larger scale in the digital world. And it’s getting worse. Largely because of complacent people that blindly trust their government or are too scared to act and speak out.

That works extremely well for the “powers that be” if one holds the correct perspective and iterates phrases of complacency like, “err on the side of caution” “better safe than sorry” “no harm, no foul” “they’re just doing their job”. These attitudes lack the careful and thoughtful attentiveness needed to improve these conditions.

What we need is a thoughtful and self-informed citizenry. As you’ve read this, I congratulate and thank you for being one in that tribe. I stand with you.