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“When you use Google services, you trust us with your information.”

Google privacy policy. Here I am again at the hurdle I have so far refused to jump, of, more aptly, the hoop I have refused to go through. Thought I could download an app from Verizon called Family Base which gives parents control over their children’s use of the internet and apps, allows them to turn access on and off, create a schedule, curfews, etc. All for the good of the children, to follow up on research that shows that too much screen time decreases their ability to concentrate, makes them read less, interferes with their sleep, and so on. The protections against cyber bullying and access to developmentally inappropriate or generally inappropriate content being a part of that, in case trust and integrity in those areas lags.

But to get the app, even for the free one month trial, I need to have and register a Google account, which means giving Google access to more information about me and everyone connected with me than I want. Always it comes down to that, and there isn’t an app to deal with it.

I share my dilemma and objections to my loved ones, who are in the living room watching a football game and the advertisements (which are now as entertaining as the game, if not more, so why bother with leaving to get a bite to eat or change over a load of laundry?). I get an annoyed look from my daughter, who suggests I drop it and get over it. My response is that smarter people than I objecting who have objected to what “everyone else” was doing had been told exactly the same thing, but they’d gone on to change the world, so why should I listen now? You can’t change the world, Mom. No, not by myself, I answer, but why not try, and see who might be interested in helping? How about coming alongside those who see the danger, and help them change the world for the better, or at least slow its slide toward chaos or bondage?

Back to the privacy policy. I’ve never read the whole thing before–never had to, before a blatant breech of privacy rights was named as part of the agreement. All in terms like, “We collect information to provide better services to all our users” and even “”like which ads you’ll find most useful [definition of ‘useful,’ please?], the people who matter most to you online [Celebrities? Candidates? Relatives? Political dissidents? Religious leaders? Thinkers, writers and activists who threaten the power of the corporations?]

Info Google lists as collectibles (some optional, but required for enhanced access to services):

  • Name, email address, phone number, credit card information
  • Google profile with name and photo (Google may use face recognition on all posted photos and analyze associated info)
  • What you look at, how often, and for how long
  • What you search for online
  • Information about your device, including unique device identifiers
  • Whom you call, when, types of calls, locations, and duration
  • Your location, by using IP address, GPS, other sensors, Wifi network and cell towers used
  • Information on how you use your computer (by means of cookies, pixel tags, etc.)
  • Detailed information on how you use your device, including apps and online sites, by complex analytics programs (Google Analytics, etc.) that accurately infer more about who you are, what you think, how you feel, what is going on in your life, and how you are likely to or can be induced to think and act in the future. This information is sold to other customers for their own purposes, leaked by hacking, and/or yielded to government intelligence agencies on demand. Also may be published for purposes of advertising services and products of Google and/or its business customers, with your photograph
  • Contents of your emails

All information collected may be processed outside the country

How to limit the collection of this info:

  • By not using the internet for searches or viewing content
  • Not sharing information with others using your electronic devices
  • Not clicking “Like”

Google concludes, in large print:

“We keep you personal information private and safe — and put you in control.”

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Culture & Society, Technology

 

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How not to be tracked

I just completed several completely untrackable searches and movements about town. I slipped by Google, Microsoft, Asian hackers, global mobile device corporation IT departments, data mining specialists, even Homeland Security and CSIS. And I’m willing to share my techniques with you. In layperson language, easy to understand and with step by step instructions that even tech-challenged information users can follow.

The enormous divide in levels of privacy between inputting queries to the web and my method is startling. You know it is, from watching “Mission Impossible” and all the newer films about what can be quickly discovered about anyone who uses the internet, cell phones, credit cards, GPS equipped vehicles and other devices, membership cards, and even digital home electric meters. Think about that…with the meters, for example, someone can remotely tell when you’re home using your appliances, and when the house is likely empty with the lights dimmed. Vehicle and mobile device GPS is good for ascertaining your location on the move, credit cards or store membership cards good for tracking location plus purchase habits and linked characteristics, such as whether you have children and their approximate ages, special dietary needs in the household, pregnancies, sexual activity, physical or mental illness, reading and viewing habits, and occasional or frequent incontinence.

With Microsoft supplying laptops and Google supplying Chromebooks to schools and developing a plethora of student-friendly apps, classrooms are also a trove of trackable data. When linked with lunchroom records, attendance and activity logging and eye movement trackers, it’s only a matter of time before the corpsy corps that run that part of the Cloud will be able not only to test kids keyable knowledge, but predict test results ahead of time. As well as determine every market-relevant trend coursing through school kid culture.

Those of you who see all these changes with giddy acceptance, as the “smell of progress” (what our great grandparents called the stench of the pulp mills and factories of that era), can stop reading now. The rest is only for those interested in restoring some portion of their private lives and narrowing the circle of society that is able to watch over their comings and goings.

When I share my techniques, they’ll be surprisingly familiar to you, but you may see them in a whole new light, as I did–as beacons of freedom, places of safety in a hostile world, havens from the rat race, miraculous privileges conferred instead of just your right, your natural right. These practices may be known to you, but they are in danger of being lost to this generation. So this is in a sense an opportunity to re-skill.

First there’s the travel aspect. Whether you choose to walk, ride your unregistered bicycle, or pay cash fare to ride the bus, you will be minimally tracked in each case, dependent on the number of security cameras along your route.

Second, it is sometimes possible to purchase goods at stores or markets and pay with cash, avoiding giving one’s phone number, membership card, or zip code. No one but the merchant need know, and they have too much to do to remember anyway. Trading and bartering is even better, as even your bank need not know you are making an exchange.

Last, it is possible to obtain information and cultural content without being tracked in several ways. The most secure source of information is your own mind. Your mental repository of experiences, memorized facts, figures, music, skills, and methodologies may be out of practice, but the human mind is a powerful tool and can be reconditioned. Even more powerful is the resource of contemporary community knowledge which we may access through sharing information with other live human beings using the medium of spoken or unspoken language. Further non-trackable information and other types of searches are possible with the use of books, radio, an other free broadcasting, while those media continue to exist.

Perhaps, like me, you already joined FaceBook or some other social media site and listed your birth date, educational, employment, residence and travel history, your list of family members, friends and associates, all your likes, and personal photos, for the benefit of the Facebook advertising department, and are now receiving startlingly relevant advertising popups. Even if you later removed your information, it’s no doubt been collected and is being stored by someone for some purpose or other. Well, it can’t be helped. But this is the first day of the rest of your life, and the whole world is still open to you. Enjoy it, and may we never know anything about it unless you want us to.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in How to, Ideas, Media

 

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Escape from Facebook

I should have listened to my inner voice when I first visited Facebook and decided it wasn’t for me because of privacy issues. But I was excited by the prospect of connecting with old and new friends, and feeling some pressure to get signed up to I could access information that wasn’t coming in email any more. I gave in, signing off my rights to images, posts and information I might share on the site. It was so fun to post this and that, to get attention and “likes” to use the timeline to organize my whole life like an album, but for what? So I’m searchable? I do love the web, love the instant access to information, cross-referencing what I think I know, the chance to say something that people may find helpful or interesting, and another way to connect with people that matter to me, without interrupting them. But as for Facebook and such, I kept coming back to that agreement I’d made giving up privacy rights, as well as the issue of being barraged with ads. I tried getting rid of those, clicking “not interested,” but the flow was infinite. Every word and expression was used to find out my market niche.

I decided to look for a social site that would let me own my information and be in full control of privacy levels, then I’d switch. I tried to delete my account, but “close account” was the only option listed. Facebook informed me that they and my friends would miss me and that even though I was closing my account and my posts no longer visible, it would all still be there for me if I chose to come back. Eery.Then I accidentally reactivated my account by I clicking a link to find out more about 4-H in my area, and voila, Facebook welcomed me back. If it hadn’t been the end of a long day, I probably would have started scrolling down that page without any end, scanning updates, glassy-eyed. Finding out who’s sick, who’s cooking something yummy, and who likes Mitt Romney, whatever.

I decided to remove posts one by one, and was apparently successful at deleting a good number, except my birthday and any posts having to do with schools I’d attended or former employers. My son suggested replacing those with fictitious entities, but I didn’t want my friends to get false information. Finally through a web search I located the delete account link (which I could not see on Facebook itself) on the My Digital Life website. I completed the security check and Facebook promised my account would be deleted in two weeks, as long as I didn’t log on in the meantime. Good bye Facebook. If I can find a way to use the site without feeling so used myself, I might be back some day.

Reminds me of the weeds I pulled today–just had to keep following each root running underground, gently loosening the soil so as to get the whole without breaking it. Otherwise, as soon as it rains, up they pop and spread again.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Technology

 

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