Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Deep Data Mining & Personal Privacy: The NSA has NOTHING on BIG BUSINESS

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 8, 2013

Much ado about nothing.

That’s how I describe the recent ruckus & hullabaloo made about the recent UK news story that “revealed” the U.S. National Security Agency is “spying” on American citizens at home.

The reality is, that the information the NSA is creating is called “metadata,” is a set of data that describes & gives information about other data. Phone numbers called, dates, times & length of calls is NOTHING by comparison to what BIG BUSINESS knows about us already.

Why do you get certain junk mail?

Ever got junk mail from the AARP?

If you’re near age 50, or older, you probably already have.

Ever gotten junk mail from Social Security, Medicare, FDIC, or even your Congressman or Senator?

I dare say you have NEVER.

When you bought your car, if you borrowed money to purchase it, the bank or credit union which loaned the money to you performed a background credit check on you before they loaned their money to you.

Where do you think they got such information? The federal government?

Please… don’t insult my intelligence.

When you applied for a credit card, did you happen to list your age or birthdate on the application?

What about the life, health, auto, or house insurance policies you have? Did you mention your relationship status, number of children, their ages, specifics of your health including medicines, treatments, surgeries, income & source, length of residency, height, weight, or even the size, color & consistency of your last bowel movement?

I would imagine the answer to ALL those questions – at one time or another – has been “yes.”

And yet, unless you’ve served in the Armed Services, or as a federal employee – Uncle Sam does NOT know any such information about you. And for the exceedingly vast percentage of the 300,000,000+ Americans in these United States, that is the case. Less than 1/2 of 1% of ALL adults have ever served this nation, either in uniform, or as employee.

If you’ve ever filled out a warranty card for a coffee maker, washing machine, microwave, or other household appliance, your name and any information you may have filled in is in a database somewhere – and has likely been sold to other companies.

If you own a cell phone of any shape, size, or brand… the cellular provider has records on your every phone call, text message and movements.

If you’ve ever walked into any of the millions of big box retailers, gas stations, restaurants, mom & pop shops, or small retailers in remote areas… you’ve been video recorded.

If you’ve ever used a credit or debit card for any transaction, or ever used an ATM machine, your every purchase and withdrawal is recorded and monitored… including video, date & time.

And goodness knows, if you use the Internet for any purpose – whether for business or pleasure – your online habits are being monitored by your ISP, the websites you visit, and the software you use.

And yet, NONE of those are government.


Why now, in this era in which we clamor for “privacy” are we suddenly alarmed by what has already happened?

It’s like boiling a frog.

Put it in a pot of cold water, and gradually turn up the heat, until it’s cooked. Because temperature change is gradual, it will never notice, and will quickly become acclimated to the environment.

However, put it in a pot of boiling water, and it will quickly jump out.

I challenge any reader to show me in the Constitution exactly where it says we have a “right to privacy.”

Among all our Amendments, there is none.


Any so-called “right” to privacy has been construed to be within the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. And while I do not necessarily disagree with the interpretation, I would hasten to add that if we agree there is a “right” to privacy, then why have we given it away – not sold it – but given it away freely for a stone cold bowl of porridge?

As a matter of fact, the origination of the “right” to privacy began with Griswold v Connecticut, a 1965 Supreme Court Case which challenged the state’s 1879 criminalizing of a married couple’s use of contraceptive devices. Justice Hugo Black‘s dissent in the case is notable for the reason that, as one of our nation’s most highly regarded Constitutional scholars, he specifically found no such right privacy, and in his dissenting opinion wrote,

“I like my privacy as well as the next [man], but I am nevertheless compelled to admit that government has a right to invade it unless prohibited by some specific constitutional provision.”

Read more about the topic in this entry: A Short History of “Privacy” in American Jurisprudence

Additional information may be found here: Goodfellas: Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Hugo Black, Joe Pesci, Mama, Daddy, Jesus

The next big national intelligence debate

By Vivek Wadhwa, Updated: June 7, 2013

My iPhone keeps track of everywhere I go and everyone that I call. It knows when I sleep, when I wake, and how active I am. It has the names and numbers of all of my friends and access to all of my emails, social networks, and even to the health information collected by apps that I’ve installed.

Google has a one-up on my iPhone. It reads my emails before I do and knows what I am thinking by analyzing what I search for on the Internet and which Web sites I visit. It “knows” what other people think about me. If my friend and noted futurist Ray Kurzweil succeeds in his mission at Google, it will also understand my wants and needs. It will be able to predict what I want to search for, where I want to go, and what I want to eat. It will understand how my brain thinks and know me better than my wife does.

Apple and Google would make Big Brother jealous. Yet we voluntarily offer these companies, and others, our deeply personal information because it makes our lives better.

We can debate whether government access to our phone records and web data is making us safer or obliterating our civil liberties.  But the reality is that in the tech era, which we have already entered, what we used to think of as privacy is becoming a relic.

Before we know it, products like Google Glass will record everything we see and hear. Expect cameras and sensors to be everywhere in public places and office buildings and on drones. Face recognition technology will identify and track us.

Even our appliances will be connected to the Internet and “talk” to each other. Speaking at and In-Q-Tel event last year, CIA Director David Petraeus said:

Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing. In practice, these technologies could lead to rapid integration of data from closed societies and provide near-continuous, persistent monitoring of virtually anywhere we choose.

In other words, there will be nowhere to hide. There will be all sorts of data collected about us from many sources.

The real debate we need to have centers around what is being done with these data. We will readily allow Google to track our searches, learn our likes and dislikes, and incorporate the advice of our friends so that it can recommend where we travel or what restaurants we choose. But should these data also be used to market to us? Should Google be allowed to share our data with third parties—and governments? And then the bigger question: how do we reign in government? We can’t stop the gathering of data, but we can surely limit its use. We can also put limits on the time that tech companies and governments are allowed to keep these data.

That is the real battle that needs to be fought.

I personally worry less about data that I know is being collected than what is being collected surreptitiously. Hackers, for example, who have the ability to turn on the camera and microphone on our computers without our knowing it. The Chinese government is hacking into government and corporate networks to download every piece of information that it can. The data that the U.S. government is gathering is likely being used to protect the public and many tragedies may have been prevented. But the Chinese are using our data to give their companies a competitive edge and find ways to disable the U.S. infrastructure. Organized crime is reaping billions by hacking banks and robbing from individuals. That is what terrifies me more than U.S. government snooping.

Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University and Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. His other academic appointments include Harvard, Duke and Emory Universities as well as the University of California Berkeley.

READ: Files show U.S. mining Internet data; firms deny giving access


5 Responses to “Deep Data Mining & Personal Privacy: The NSA has NOTHING on BIG BUSINESS”

  1. You’re blogging like crazy! How do you find time?


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hey Moik! Good question. I reckon, that after a period of time – a time in which I have disciplined myself – it comes a bit easier than it did at first. It’ll likely be the same with you. One thing that dedicated & serious writers to is discipline themselves to write. While what I do is not as high level as some, I have continued to stick with it. And as with anything, there are times in which one seems to struggle. With writers, it’s struggling for thoughts or words. But there again, life is cyclical.


  2. Say, I hate to leave this as a comment here as it is kind of off topic – but do you have recommendations for sidebar items or “widgets” for my blog? I’m think that since my goal is for it to be a static reference (as opposed to an ongoing journal) I should have some key entries linked there – what do you think?


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      No problem, Moik. I use a couple widgets, one for Flickr, one for Twitter, and one that shows tags as a “cloud.” The available widgets may be found linked from the admin page in the upper LEFT hand corner of the page, under your blog’s name, which is situated beside to the RIGHT of the WordPress logo. Simply hover the cursor over the blog name, and a drop-down menu will appear. The 5ifth item down is Widgets. Here’s a WP URL for help on the topic. http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/

      On the “static reference” thing… because information changes, it might be worthwhile considering whether or not an “ongoing journal” might be more appropriately suited for your intended audience.

      Respecting the idea of “key entries,” there’s a way to highlight such entries by posting them to the front page of the blog. In the admin section (Dashboard), under Appearance > Menus, there are options to allow such “key entries” to be organized and linked.

      BTW… what’s happened to your Windy City bubba? I’ve not seen anything from him in a while.


      • Okay thanks – widgets – looking at them now.

        Static reference – when I first went into a fib it was hard to find one place where there was the info I was looking for – like “can I still run marathon and ultra distances in a fib” and “can I still mountain bike on anticoagulants?” There’s a lot of scattered and mixed messages there.

        key entires- thanks. Exactly what I’m looking for.

        Danny is doing a lot of freelance writing which takes from his blog writing. He’s a “ghostwriter” actually. Isn’t that interesting?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: