Monday, April 16, 2012

Americans Love Chips


One thing I have experienced is several people explaining to me they are paranoid about the concept that the government one day will install chips in everyone so they know their every move.  What could be more frightening than a fascist government, following in the steps of Nazi Germany, with the power to track your every move?  The problem is that most of the people complaining to me about this have already bought in.

Every day people buy mobile phones, log into Skype, log into Facebook, log into Vkontakte, pay for Skype using their credit or debit card, buy books at, and secretly worry about microchips being implanted in under their skin.  Yet they don't consider that they might already be carrying one!

What would you do if today you logged into Facebook and there was a message saying someone accessed your account and you needed to change your password?

What would you do if the location that accessed your account was a local or foreign military base?

This happens regularly because people allow such free access to their information.

I know; I worked developing software for a Search Engine Optimization firm for three years.  While you're wondering how to find a turnip on Farmville corporations are gathering information about you.  Who are your friends?  What products do you like?  What books do you read?  What cafes do you frequent?  How often do you travel?  Do you like the current President?

All of this data is being exchanged, and with very little knowledge of programming languages this information is accessed very easily.  Of course tying this information to your credit card is ostensibly illegal, yet many governments insist on tracking financial transactions 'for safety'.  The United States National Security Agency, one, if not the most, advanced cryptography agencies in the world, has agreements with numerous commercial corporations to exchange information visitors think is private.  It is not even obliged to explain with whom as it is one of America's 'black ops' programs which does not need to explain what it spends money on.

Americans frequently insist that the Soviet KGB kept records on all citizens, and perhaps they did, but anyone meeting your average former Soviet employee can tell you there is no way they could in a matter of seconds whether you purchased a book promoting fascism, or liked a comment that was critical of Stalin on your mobile phone while you were at work.  They relied on gossiping grandmothers for their information.

Recently in America a man was furious that Target, a popular American store, was sending his daughter, coupons for expecting mothers.  Why would they send coupons for strollers, and diapers, to a 15 year old?  Upset he confronted to the manager of the local store manager as to why their store was promoting his child to become pregnant!  Only a couple weeks later, after a very long conversation with his daughter, he returned to the store to apologize.  The store manager was confused; in fact the man's daughter was expecting a child and was reluctant to tell her father.

The store, it turns out, has automated software (the same kind of software I used to be employed to write) that examines simple information you have already said you concede to give.  When the average American checks 'terms and conditions' they think nothing of this.  The software this corporation used examined the buying habits of people they knew were expecting children to develop a program to predict whether someone might be pregnant.  This software knew this teenager was pregnant before her own father, because she used his debit card to purchase items.

The totalitarian governments of the technology age do not need a chip to track their citizens, or to influence their thoughts, or prevent them from being able to complete simple financial transactions.  They do not need secret informants in every clique. Every day mobile phone stores, and banks are filled with citizens who are begging for that privilege; 'the chip' is already in your pocket.  

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