Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Paranoia, Not Just For The Mentally Ill

As the old saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you aren't being watched, and Eugene Robinson's column expands on that idea. The sad part is that most Americans think it's okay to be watched that much, suffering from the delusion that it will protect them from terrorism when in reality what it does is allow them to be tracked through almost every aspect of their life. Every financial transaction from Starbucks to the bank with the laundromat in between, all under the guise of preventing theft.

Some seem incapable of understanding that it isn't just on television or in the movies and that being innocent won't help once you fall under suspicion. Almost everything you have done on a computer can be retrieved and used against you. A person can be tracked visually leaving a parking garage, turning right at the light, getting on to a bridge or toll road and all the way to their next destination. The handy cell phone with its GPS signal pinpoints them within a few meters and also has the dual purpose of enabling the government to listen in on their calls without oversight.

Conveniences of the 21st century have made it possible to build a psychological profile on anyone in just a few minutes and use it against you. Viewing habits can be tracked by way of Tivo and movie reward cards. What you eat and drink can be determined from several sources such as shopper's reward cards and when eating out the debit or credit card transaction reveals the type of food as well as the location. Credit cards are used so frequently that even after watching all the popular police procedurals, people still don't realize that those same techniques can, and will be, used against them. For any reason and at any time. No justification needed. What's innocent today might not be tomorrow. And at the rate we're going, it won't be.

It is just a short step to the regulated behavior of a bad science fiction movie, or for those who fear being left behind, being forced to wear the number of the beast in order to proceed legally through their lives.

Oh well, off to change the tinfoil.

Crossposted at the 3Bs.

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