Online Privacy – Why big media is ignoring the issue

Online spying and privacy is the biggest issue that media is not talking about…at all.

There is something big coming around the bend. Our online privacy, freedom of speech, Constitutional rights and our very personal freedom is now inches away from being lost forever. This is not conspiracy theory nor is is some tin-foil-hat crazy talk.

We are embarking on a new terrible reality: everything we do and say online can and will [ultimately] be used against us in the court of public opinion, by our employers, by our prospective employers, by our government. But you won’t hear about any of this in the main stream media. You won’t hear any of this coming on your local news but it is the most important issue facing our collective rights and our very democracy. Why is this not in the news and why are we all terribly uninformed?

What is happening out in online privacy land?

Wired recently reported on the NSA building the nations biggest spy center. The center is designed to protect the US from cyber attacks but holds incredible computing power and can spy on US citizens as well. So you may think, well a little loss of our privacy and freedom in exchange for our collective security is okay. You should reconsider and quickly.

After 911 our world was turned upside down and the events of that day haunt us all and the impact is much greater than we could have ever possibly thought of or considered. In a recent article on The Raw Story, describes a journalist who was targeted by the US government for her work on the Occupy Wall Street movement. The US agency tied her work on OWS to some  type of terror group…which in turn led to her termination.

“There is no provision in there to protect journalists at all, or anyone. Anybody can be swept up under this. You don’t want to hand these kinds of powers to the state, because history has shown that, eventually, they will use it.” Chris Hedges from The Raw Story

The National Defense Authorization Act allows the US government to indefinitely detain US citizens without trial, without council…without evidence. Moreover, the content you post online via social media, blogs or online articles can be used against you. In other words…watch what you say online as your words can be used against you.

Employers and potential employers want to spy on you

It is not just the US government who wants to spy on you – employers are asking for Facebook passwords. CNN and several other news organizations have recently reported on job candidates and current employees being asked for their passwords to Facebook and Twitter accounts. To compound this massive intrusion of privacy, the US House of Representatives recently shot down a proposed law which would make asking for passwords by employers illegal. Facebook states that-

“You will not share your password, (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account,”

This is not stopping would-be employers,current employers or the US government from spying and is as good as pouring acid on the Constitution. Where is the media on this? The main stream media is busy blowing smoke at all of us with the year long presidential election cycle. It has juicer headlines and makes for a continual loop of ‘he said she said’ which continually keeps many of us literally turned off from potentially important information.

We as a society have decided to become stupid and have an average reading level of 8th to 9th grade. We buy everything that is put on the media sales block and look no further than our selected sources…which are primarily based on closed world views and not on facts. Case in point: Fox News views know less than those who don’t watch news at all.

We as a society need to make a big decision…and it will be a decision that will impact all of us, our children and our concept of democracy. Where does our privacy begin and exactly what is privacy? What is the media’s responsibility to report responsibly? The longer we collective ignore the massive implications of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression…the closer we get to a totalitarian government.

Your off your rocker and are throwing out conspiracy theories.

In order to call an event a conspiracy we only need: 1. act of plotting 2. two or more people planning an illegal or wrongful act 3. an agreement by two or more persons to commit such an act. The Supreme Court recently ruled that [Citizens United] corporations are people.

If this is the case…then Verizon, AT&T and other massive entities have and are continuing to cooperate with the US to spy on Americans. The very same companies have shares and are owned by major cable providers which control media and communication methods. Consider NBC Universal who is owned by Comcast. Moreover, these very corporations are not covering the online privacy issue because it is not in their best interest. If our government can data mine from it’s citizens…then the corporations can to right? Right.

It is our duty to pay great attention to our rights, freedoms and hold those accountable for failing to tell the truth and for withholding the truth. We may have very few opportunities to protect ourselves form very dark and sinister results. My post [possible rant] is not about a rebellion or revolution…it is about protecting ourselves and our freedom. Knowledge is power. Knowledge in the wrong hands is dangerous.

Meanwhile…Goldman Sachs may have ties to an online sex trafficking ring…but this type of activity or association poses no direct threats to national security…therefore let us look the other way.

Online Privacy & Freedom – Now At Risk

Most of us are aware of the Occupy Wall Street [OWS] protests and their message of raising awareness of the vast chasm between the rich and poor. The 1% get all of the breaks and the 99% get the boot. I am not one to argue their point. I am not one to say that there isn’t something truly amiss with the disparity between the very wealthy in this country and those less fortunate. There is…and it is systemic, ongoing and desperately needs to be addressed at the highest levels.

While most of us may believe that the aforementioned is a major issue…there is a bigger issue that is NOT being covered by the mainstream media and issues that are much closer the the very core and fabric of our nation. Our very freedoms are under direct assault by those who hold political office.

What I find interesting and a little frightening is this: the Occupy movement has awakened sleeping giants. The giants – those who seek to stop any type of protest in its tracks. The Bill of Rights allows freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably protest, right to petition our government and freedom of the press. These are the rights of Americans and this is not up for debate…until now.

Over the course of 2011, there were hundreds of protests in the Middle East which toppled governments and dethroned dictators. It was called the Arab Spring…and it’s primary communication tool was the Internet. Demonstrators and protesters used texts, social networks and Twitter to topple oppressive regimes. On one hand it was a true force of democratic will, propelled by well oiled and socially connected people. On the other was the most basic desire for freedom of oppression.

Simple desire created massive change and the vehicle that helped the people do it was social media.

When the Occupy Wall Street started to pick up steam…those in power in the U.S. started to get a little unhinged and are now pulling the plug on freedom, privacy, the press and you. Politicians [left and right] and corporate America do not want to change how we do business nor do they want to change that was once promised.

Don’t believe me…take a look at some recent stories –

  1. Freedom Index for the United States [now ranked 47th].
  2. Drones patrolling New York
  3. Homeland Security can now keep track of those “reporters” using social networks and social media outlets
  4. The new National Defense Authorization Act which allows the president to kill American citizens and indefinitely detain them with out trial or council.
  5. Failed attempt at full blow Internet censorship via SOPA.
  6. Failed attempt at additional Internet censorship with the Protect IP Act.
  7. Chicago’s mayor added on higher fees and stiffer penalties for the G8 summit.

The good news is items 5 and 6 failed. The bad news is we are teetering very close to a point of no return. Every move we make…as a reporter, blogger, or social media hipster or college student may be watched, monitored, collected and used against us in a court of law [if we are lucky]. In addition, you may end up held without trial, without legal council, without even being told why.

All of this seems like it has been specifically created and designed to curb, stop or totally shut down any unrest the current political and socioeconomic climate may bring about. By any means necessary. By all powers available. All in the name of security.

Social media and social communication has provided people around the world with a new voice and new tools to cause change. These new communication tools are extremely potent and to those in power…may be deemed dangerous. The status quo types don’t like change. They are making way too much just the way things are…thank you.

As Americans may agree, terrorism is a real threat. The individuals who darkened our skies on 9-11 are not unique…they succeeded. There are others that wish to do the U.S. it and its people harm. That is beyond tragic, sick and inhumane. However, as Americans…our parents, grandparents and millions before our time, bled to provide us the very freedoms we enjoy today. Online and offline. In private, on our person and within our own homes.

Freedom is that warm blanket of security we have all enjoyed for so long but have continually failed protect ourselves from ourselves. We are the government [as they are elected by us] and now they are digging into everything we hold dear in the name of security.

Let’s be honest. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Many of the top Al-Qaeda rank and file are dead or in GitMo. Many of the treats we once faced are now the size of a small kitten. Sure, there are more bad guys…there always will be. But what are we willing to give up for JUST A LITTLE MORE SAFETY?

I am not writing this post out of fear or conspiracy or hysteria. No. I am writing to sound the alarm that something is coming and it will be a fight for our online and offline privacy and freedom. Lets hope we as Americans are up for the fight. Paying attention is the very first step.

In closing, New Hampshire’s licence plate reads – Live Free or Die. I don’t think it will ever come to that again. The American Revolution ended in 1783…and if we continue to ignore the signs…we may not be able to stand up at all – as we will all be in Internet shackles with no one on the other side to hear our message or help.



Presidential Internet “Kill Switch”

The Huffington Post recently reported that Joe Lieberman is sending in a bill to the Senate to allow the President of the U.S. the ability to shut down portions of the Internet when needed. What would the President need to shut any part of the Internet down for? I could understand the need to kill the Internet for something like cyber crimes or CIA cyber infiltration but nothing else. Lieberman may have offered this up for consideration because of a major leak from Wikileaks (the U.S. is currently seeking the founder of Wikileaks for unknown reasons).  No matter the reason, this would be unacceptable for our Internet liberties, freedom of information, and our collective right to seek truths wherever they may be.

Currently we all enjoy the Internet on a regular basis, I for one am online up to 16 hours a day. I could not imagine attempting to log on and see the following notice:

Your Internet is shut down. You will not see Google ads today. You will not see your emails or pay your bills. You will not be able to waste any time at work. In fact, due to the manual shut down, don’t bother going into the office today, Don’t bother contacting your service provide because your U.S. Government is now in control.