SHCC WYSIWYG Article from October 2015

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the October 2015 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Is There Any Privacy Anymore?

by Don VanSyckel

Recently the perfectly good traffic lights at Mound and Metro Parkway were ripped down and new traffic signal were installed (with the help of federal money). The new stout and stiff poles have arms that extend out over the road. This is reported to be for mounting the traffic lights. This is all needed because the old setup was said to be totally inadequate. The reality of it is the sturdy non-swaying arms are suitable to mount cameras on. These cameras are capable of recording all the traffic that goes through the intersection. With the cost of storage going down and the capacity going up banking of history is feasible. I'm all for keeping an eye on traffic so issues can be responded to, but the resolution available and the storage is not needed just to monitor traffic. The system is designed to collect information; information about you and me.

Do you use Gmail? Many people and organizations do. Gmail is owned by Google. The organization that attempts to catalog all the information it can find on the web. Anyway, Google has massive amounts of storage. I can't quote a source but I've read several accounts that reported that Google saves all Gmail data; that's emails in and emails out. Combine that with government subpoena powers, it gets scary. But before a subpoena is even needed, the Google management is sympathetic with certain reigning politicians so information get passed quietly. Don't put anything important or incriminating in any email going to a Gmail account. There are other places to get email accounts on the web both for free and fee.

The third area I'll mention that is becoming computerized is the electric utility meter on you house. The claim is its a cost saving feature. To save money the meter needs to report the consumption for the month. One time, one amount. The meters being installed in the area go way beyond this. These meters are capable of profiling your electrical usage and in some cases these meters can determine the devices you have in use in your home. Another feature of these meters is they can receive commands from the control center. The last feature is a switch to turn off the power to your house. These last features the electric companies claim won't be used. let's be frank, the more features a device has the more it costs. So the powers-to-be would like me to believe that an electric meter with extra features that won't be used but which costs more because of these features were purchased for the most cost savings. Also the claim is out there that their system can't be hacked by someone in China or Russia. If hacked and someone gets in they could turn off the power for hundreds or thousands of homes. I can certainly understand why the electric company claims they can't be hacked when other organizations such as the Pentagon, a major credit card company, and a major retailer have all been hacked.

The last area is personnel surveillance in and around your home. These systems can now report to a security service or be monitored by you from a PC or a phone. Computers make this possible.

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