How Facebook “taps” your phone… The bitter fruit of the Internet Age… How the feds plan to make you a good little lamb… In the mailbag: “If there only could be a surplus of common sense in Washington”…
This time, it’s not between people in the East and the West.
It’s between folks the government considers “trustworthy” and those it considers “untrustworthy.”
As we’ve been showing you, China is rolling out the most ambitious mass surveillance and behavior modification program the world has ever seen.
It’s called the Social Credit System. Think of it as an extension of your financial credit score. But instead of just tracking your financial performance, it will rank your “trustworthiness” in the eyes of the state.
It divides people into two distinct classes – those that the state trusts and those that it doesn’t – by way of a reputation score.
And it’s hooked up to one of the most advanced digital surveillance networks in the world.
Get too low of a score – by criticizing the government on a blog… paying a worker under the table… even buying too many video games – and the Chinese feds blacklist you.
Once you’re blacklisted, you’ll find common activities – such as traveling by plane or train – off limits.
As the Communist Party bosses in Beijing put it in 2014 (when they first officially floated the plan), its aim is to “broadly shape a thick atmosphere in the entire society that keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful.”
According to Global Times, a Chinese state-owned English-language newspaper, there have been about 15 million incidents of people with too low of a social credit score being banned from getting on planes and trains.
And Channel NewsAsia, a Singaporean news outlet, reported a further 3 million have been banned from taking business-class flights.
The punishments meted out to the “untrustworthy” are not just travel related. The authorities may also slow your internet connection, bar access to good schools for your kids, even take away your right to own a pet.
They just don’t think about it.
But if you’re a user of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, or any other Big Tech platform, the level of surveillance is off the charts.
These companies know your age, your gender, your birthday, your phone number, your email address, your mailing address, your location, your relationship status, your income level, your education and your contacts…
They know your chat histories, your search histories, what photos and videos you upload, your purchase history, the music you listen to, the ads you click on, the web pages you visit, your race or ethnicity, your religious views, and your political views…
They even know what your fingerprint looks like, how to recognize you from a photo of your face, and what your voice sounds like.
For-profit surveillance company Facebook is in the news again for all the wrong reasons.
This time, it’s over a cache of emails – which date mostly from 2012 to 2015 – that a British parliamentary committee made public as part of its investigation into the social media giant.
And contrary to the do-gooder PR nonsense about “connecting people” the company likes to pump out… the emails reveal a ruthless operation with utter contempt for its users and their privacy.
According to the leaked internal emails, in 2015, a team within the company responsible for growth wanted to release a new Facebook app for the Google-owned Android smartphone operating system.
And it wanted to use this app to harvest your text message and phone log history.
But Android’s privacy policies meant that users would have to give Facebook permission to collect this data – something Facebook execs feared would cause a PR nightmare.
So instead of being upfront with its users about what kind of data they were handing over to Facebook by installing the app, they found a sneaky workaround.
According to an email by the head of Facebook’s privacy program, Yul Kwon, the growth team discovered that if Facebook just collected users’ call logs – and nothing else – they didn’t need to request permission upfront.
“Based on their initial testing,” Kwon wrote, “it seems this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog at all.”
That’s Facebook drone speak for stealing people’s phone log records without their permission.
What Facebook and Google are doing is the opposite of what the pioneers of the Internet Age claimed would happen online. Bill…
This is the bitter fruit of the Internet Age. It seems clear now that the internet didn’t pay off as expected.
When it was first introduced back in the mid 1990s, people thought the World Wide Web would be a huge boost to the economy. They thought productivity would go way up… and all of a sudden we’d get higher GDP growth rates, higher incomes, and higher productivity.
That didn’t happen. Instead, the internet – which was supposed to work to weaken centralized power by freeing up information – turned out to be a boon to a government who wants to keep track of you by using these big data sources to monitor everything you do all the time.
In other words, the only thing George Orwell got wrong was the year.
Doug is Bill’s fellow co-founder here at Legacy Research. And as a self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” he was one of the first on the team to warn about the encroaching Surveillance State.
Here’s more from one of Doug’s must-read essays published last week in our Casey Daily Dispatch e-letter…
The problem – and what amazes me – is that people are putting these devices in their homes. Alexa, Siri, and their friends, are designed to pick up information from you and about you. That data stays in the cloud forever.
It’s like inviting Dracula into your house. Trusting the goodwill of some corporation is utterly and completely foolish. We’re nothing more than digits to them.
It’s a bleak scenario. But it’s not so bleak that you can’t do something about it.
The best defense against the Surveillance Society is to “go dark.”
Strictly limit what others can find out about you by thinking carefully about your internet use, in other words.
Remember, today’s China could be tomorrow’s America. We’ll leave Doug with the final word on that…
We know what’s happening in China with its social credit system. It’s going to spread all over the world. People will want to get “Good Little Lamb” points, the way they now try to earn airline frequent flyer points. I just don’t know how you evade such a major trend.
This trend is coming to America whether we’re ready for it or not. So if you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on our guide to going dark.
You’ll learn the four steps you can take now to shore up your privacy online. And you’ll begin the fightback against the online snoops.
The debate between Daily Cut readers about whether pot should be legalized… and what role the feds should play in regulating it… shows no sign of dying down…
So, the question now is if society should have regulatory control over drugs we put into our bodies. I find it amusing how this can even be a question when we see all the wine bottles in the grocery stores, and beer in quick stops, yet the drunk driver is still out there. Let’s not forget the other poisons we ingest such as Cinnabons, hot dogs, and other junk foods that lead to a society that is plagued with obesity.
And we quibble about a drug that actually can eliminate the use of Percocet or OxyContin when applied as CBD oil, or the elimination of seizures when used medicinally? Here’s an idea: How about we itemize the legitimacy of these “harmful” substances and then decide what should be regulated by society? If there could only be a surplus of common sense in Washington.
– John B.
I’ve been amused by all the back-and-forth on this, but after Royanne B. makes a spurious claim about recreational users, I have to offer my two cents. Her comment, “no one can convince me that the use of recreational pot doesn’t lead to very poor personal decision making and to more advanced drugs” begs for a response from someone with first-hand experience. Clearly, she believes the propaganda and should indulge to see for herself there really is nothing to worry about.
To Royanne: Does the fact that I have a degree in mathematics, a full-time job as an actuary, a family, a $400,000+ home, plus a 55-acre cattle ranch, plus two rental homes, qualify as poor personal decision making? And this was all achieved despite the fact (or maybe because) I smoke weed daily. Would you classify me as irresponsible? Does being successful in life “go against your values”? You have no idea who “are the ones using pot” or how successful they are. Try keeping an open mind and you might actually learn something!
– Michelle F.
Do you agree with Royanne that using pot recreationally leads people to make bad choices? Or are you more concerned about the rise of the Surveillance Society in the U.S.?
Send your thoughts our way at [email protected]. As always, we read every email we get.
December 6, 2018