Way back in the 1990’s my friend at work Brian introduced me to a game called Colonization still one of the best games ever to come out from the magnificent mind of Sid Meier (and a game that still holds up will 20 years later although an updated version with 3D graphics and multiplayer mode is available as well) but in those old DOS windows 95 games to an old Avalon Hill gamer like me Colonization was tops.
We were both hooked and would often talk about our various games at work. During one of those days he mentioned causally that he would leave his PC on overnight connected to the net. Now I was years removed from my previous and my next tech job but I told him I didn’t like the idea of an open line that others would have to my PC data without me noticing, but my suggestion that anyone could get in via that internet connection to his PC was scoffed at in those innocent early days of AOL.
Over the years I have repeated various versions of those warnings to people like
Just because a machine is made by Apple it doesn’t mean you can’t get a virus or a hacked
If you’re cellphone acts as a PC it can be hacked like a PC
If you can remotely access your appliances and doors then so can someone else
If Alexa or your TV is listening to you when you’re talking to it that means it’s listening when you’re not.
All of these propositions have invariably been greeted with reactions as if I was some kind of conspiracy theorist but of all the warnings I have given over the years the one I have repeated the most and is the most evergreen of them all is this:
Never write anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your wife or mother to see.
This is a lesson that John Podesta learned to his regret during the last election cycle and that James O’Keefe and Project Veritas has reinforced by his sting of Twitter.
Pranay Singh, a Direct Messaging Engineer for Twitter corroborated Haynes claims in a meeting with a Project Veritas journalist on January 5, 2018:
“Everything you send is stored on my server… So all your sex messages and you, like, d*ck pics are on my server now…”
“All your illegitimate wives and, like, all the girls you’ve been f*cking around with, they’re are on my server now… I’m going to send it to your wife, she’s going use it in your divorce.”
“So, what happens is like, you like, write something or post pictures on line, they never go away… Because even after you send them, people are like analyzing them, to see what you are interested in, to see what you are talking about. And they sell that data.”
Remember Twitter, Facebook snapchat are not public utilities nor are they charitable organizations. Somebody is paying for all those people and all that infrastructure and if it’s not you it’s someone else, and the product they are selling is YOU
According to Twitter software expert Mihai Florea, “To actually charge the advertisers the money we have to prove it was you, and that’s why using email address, or like a cookie or something that can track you.” Florea continues, saying, “You’re paying for the right to use our website with your data basically.”
Now these are such basic common sense facts that the idea that tens of millions of people don’t realize this is astounding to me. Moreover given what we’ve seen from the social justice warriors at Twitter and/or Facebook the very idea that a conservative would trust them to handle their data fairly is about as laughable as it gets.
And as Jazz Shaw reminds us, it’s in your car too:
What sort of data can the manufacturer assemble from your GPS? They can hone in on your driving habits, how often you exceed the speed limit, where you like to shop or go out to eat… and all of that information is tied to your real name, financial data and contact information. This might have remained one of those stories which only suggests possible bad behavior were it not for the fact that the WaPo is quoting somebody from a data firm which is already selling this information to advertisers and splitting the profits with the automakers.
and asks the ultimate question
So your phone and your car are both spying on everything you do and ratting you out. At this point I can’t blame you if you’re wondering… what next? No need to wait, citizens. The answer is already here. Thanks to the Internet of Things, your refrigerator is already tracking what you’re doing and will be preemptively preparing shopping lists and menus for you. What’s the harm, right? I mean, it’s just going to help you avoid drinking spoiled milk. But if it knows what you’re buying and how often, don’t you think there would be a buyer for that data as well?
So let me close with with one final fact that every should remember at all times
All of your data, from the stuff on your phone, game system, computer, cloud and even from your car and appliances are only as secure as the least careful person with access to your passwords and the least ethical person with access to it via any company that you have either stored it with or given access to via an end user agreement.
Should you get batshit paranoid about it, no, but should you be aware of it and act accordingly, YES!
Closing note. You can still buy the original Colonization and the new version Civilization IV Colonization on Steam (subject to the user agreement of course). I highly recommend and endorse both games.
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