A few months ago, the Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for taking its sweet time to give information to the FCC about an interesting project Google had been working on.
Most of you are probably familiar with Google Maps, where you can search for directions to wherever you need to go and even get a street view of the area. Google literally paid for trucks to go around with cameras on them in order to record this information. Not a big deal, right?
Well it wouldn’t be a big deal if those trucks didn’t include technology on them that could swipe all of your personal information off unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
Just in case you don’t know what that means, if you have Wi-Fi in your house and it didn’t have a password on it to protect it, odds are that Google has all of your personal information.
What do I mean by personal information? Everything. Passwords, websites you’ve visited, financial records, absolutely anything that you have ever done on your home computer, Google now has.
Think about it this way: If you can’t live without the Internet, odds are that Google has your life.
The FCC Did Nothing
Apparently, according to the FCC, Google did nothing wrong. That’s right. According to the government (which, by the way, has millions of dollars’ worth of contracts with Google), the company had a right to spy on you.
Actually, that’s not quite right. Google did do something wrong, according to the FCC, it delayed the information it gave to the FCC.
The world’s leading search engine said that searching its own employees’ emails and getting statements from them “would be a time-consuing and burdensome task.”
The company can gather all of your personal information in a nanosecond from the air outside of your house, yet it said it would take too long to get the information about why it did it.
For delaying a Federal investigation, Google, of course, was fined heavily and people were sent to jail, right? Wrong. For all of that, the company was fined $25,000.
What does that “hefty” fine mean to Google?
Take all the money you have out of your pocket. Now take the lint out of the bottom of that pocket. That lint has the same value to you as a $25,000 fine does to Google. It’s not even a slap on the wrist; it’s more like an endorsement.
When contacted, Google’s employees refused to make statements as to why they were recording this information. That sounds like they have something to hide, doesn’t it?
Oh, and don’t think Google has pulled this trick off just in America. It did the exact same thing in 29 other major countries. Google doesn’t just spy on U.S. citizens; it spies on the world.
No one has rights in a Google-run world. And our government (which, let me remind you again, contracts Google to supply it data) is doing nothing to stop it.
It Isn’t Just Google
In 2002, an AT&T employee couldn’t understand why National Security Agency representatives were suddenly visiting his office in San Francisco on a regular basis. He had never seen them in the office before and couldn’t figure out why they would have anything to do with the phone and Internet provider.
His curiosity got the best of him, so he followed a few people around his office building, which led him to discover that the sixth floor of his building was under considerable construction and security.
This made no sense to the man, who kept poking around until he found documents describing what was in the room. What he found should shock you.
The NSA had contracted AT&T to build this secret room and collect all of the data from 16 major phone and Internet companies.
That’s right: all of the data. Every phone call, every Internet site, every password, every financial record. You get the idea.
Basically, any piece of information that came from you, AT&T collected and sent off to the government.
The NSA says it doesn’t read through information that has been given to it. It says that a computer sorts through this information and that it is never really looked at by human eyes unless it’s linked to a terrorist organization. If the data weren’t linked to anything criminal like that, it was deleted; or so the NSA says.
Fast-forward to a directive from President Barack Obama in 2012. As was reported a few weeks ago on Absolute Rights, the President signed an executive order that allowed the NSA to keep non-terror linked information for up to five years.
That’s an interesting number, isn’t it?
The data that has been stored from AT&T since that mysterious room was built has most likely been sitting on a shelf all that time.
But who needs that old data anyway when Google is updating it daily?
What Can You Do?
You need to protect your privacy. Sure, that’s easy to say; but there are things that can be done to help secure your data.
First, know your rights or the lack thereof.
Know that people are out there ripping off your information. So protect your Internet with a password. Don’t keep connections open. Clearly, the government isn’t going to stop companies from spying on you; what makes you think it doesn’t already do the same thing?
You should know that you have little to no privacy over everything transmitted over the Internet. That means emails, data and even phone calls.
Yes, phone calls on the Internet on what is called Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, are up for grabs to whomever would like to listen to them.
The only phone calls protected now are those on land lines and some cellphones.
The next thing you can do is to not put personal information on the Internet. If you don’t need to bank online, don’t.
Sure, things seem convenient when you are sitting at home ordering whatever you need off of the Internet; but how convenient is it when you’re being tracked by everyone and everything who has the technology to do so?
Finally, base your life in the real world and not online.
That may sound silly; but if you can’t live without the Internet, you’re in trouble.
Make sure that you can really function without the Internet. Don’t rely on it for everything. It should be common sense that if a luxury like electricity goes away, so do things like the Internet. If you can’t make it without the Web, not only will you not survive a major disaster, but you may not be able to survive even a minor thunderstorm.
It’s important to know that your information is out there. With the recent discoveries about how Google and AT&T operate, odds are that all of your information is already out there. Make sure you take the proper precautions to protect yourself from all of the eyes that may be looking over you.
It isn’t a safe world out there, and knowing that your private lives have been spied on by Google and other companies doesn’t feel good; but it is good to know.
If you know what is going on around you in the world, you can prepare for it.
Be smarter than they think you are.