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You Should be Freaking out About Privacy

You Should be Freaking out About Privacy

Guest post by Kurt Brand, Executive IT Consultant and Interim CDO/CIO/CTO/CISO
If you want to do yourself a big favor, please invest a short moment of your precious time to watch this 12 minute New York Times video published on Dec 20, 2019, under the heading “You should be freaking out about privacy”:

The video explains i.a.:
▶︎ How your #privacy is invaded at an industrial scale 24/7 and 365 days/year ;
▶︎ How your personal information is raided, traded and used against you in terrifying ways, while you are reading this posting ;
▶︎ How advertising companies, intelligence services and criminals are able to combine small information pieces for building up complete profiles of you (“digital twins”) ;
▶︎ How advertising is used to predict and manipulate your individual mood and behavior by addressing your (sometimes even subconscious) weak spots ;
▶︎ How the combination of information from different sources can bring you into serious trouble – deliberately or accidentally ;
▶︎ How you can be identified even within masses of people by analyzing videos from public #surveillance cameras utilizing AI-based face recognition and match this information with publicly available photos of you.

Note: At the end of 2019, the USA FREEDOM Act (former USA PATRIOT Act), that provides the legal basis for government surveillance, was renewed again.

How much of your private information are you really comfortable giving away? Where is your red line? Do you believe it’s okay, if the entire population is being placed under general suspicion and under surveillance to identify and track a small minority of outlaws and criminals?

Imagine what today’s surveillance technology in the hands of authoritarian regimes mean for civil rights activists, journalists or lawyers. Surveillance is a means of control and suppression.

The U.S. Constitution comprises no “Right to Privacy”, even though some US-Americans believe they have such a right. As long as Tech companies spend tens of millions for lobbying the government, the likelihood for effective legislation for protecting citizen’s privacy is close to zero.

We don’t need to compromise privacy and liberty to achieve safety. We just need three iron rules :
▶︎ Privacy is essential to democracy and liberty ;
▶︎ Everyone should be given the ability to discover who is using his/her personal data and how ;
▶︎ Our privacy is not something that can be traded in exchange for access to a “free” social media app or a smartphone.

Our freedom to think, speak and act, as we want, is key. A society of surveillance is just one step away from a society of submission.
From 1933 onwards, Germany was not only ruled by the most radical anti-Semites in history, but they brought about two decisive changes :
1. They intensified the latent anti-Semitism in the population, which had developed since the founder’s crisis in 1873 through the influence of Otto Glagau, Wilhelm Marr or Gustav Freytag, by inciting the Jews as scapegoats
2. With the help of the Gestapo, SA and SS, they succeeded in intimidating and keeping the (much larger) passive-critical part of the population in check through a system of surveillance, denunciation and threat.

Source and complementary readings :
▶︎ “How was Adolf Hitler possible?” published on November 12, 2019, in German:  (English translation ) ;
▶︎ “How the U.S. government discredits the U.S. American IT industry” published on August 20, 2017 (in German ) ;
▶︎ “The spy in your pocket” published on April 25, 2017: (in German) ;
▶︎ “The digital disruption of warfare” published on June 11, 2017  (only in English so far) ;
▶︎ “Digitalization strategy for countries” published on February 21, 2018:  (in German) ;

With thanks to Kurt Brand.