Getting real about Surveillance

There has been so much noise in the NZ media about surveillance, the GCSB and NSA and what is or isn’t being done.

Seriously? 28k searches in a month?
Seriously? 28k searches in a month?

In the meantime we are all blindly using the internet with no real thoughts about keeping ourselves safe. I don’t use secure email and I only know one person who does. I don’t use anonymous browsing, I’m always logged in to Google – and it can give me some scary stats about my own internet use. There wasn’t even 1 day in August where I didn’t search for a thing?

How many of us really understand how the Internet works – or give a thought to the mechanics of it all? We pay our ISP and magically we can connect with computers all over the world to get information. We are more realistic about how websites pay for themselves and somehow teens talking about makeup become YouTube sensations and earn not just a living but a fortune.

Lets take a typical web request to facebook – most of us have accounts and use it.

When I request a facebook page my request goes through 13 “hops” which are networking hubs that handle traffic. Most of those have some information that would allow me to identify the country they’re in, and little else.

Traceroute to Facebook
Traceroute to Facebook

I’m sure somewhere, somehow, there is a legal agreement on what the people owning those hops are obliged to do with the information that passes through but do we know?

Do we know how they pay for the machines, the running costs, the staff and the building? Presumably they have bandwidth fees?

So, if we don’t know squat about this how do we know there isn’t surveillance? You can probably manipulate the hops if you really want to, but how would you know which are monitored?

I personally don’t mind if they are monitoring to catch the child pornographers, the spammers, the drug dealers and the terrorists – who would?

At the back of your mind there is the whole Big Brother thing and what if, sometime in the future, there’s a lynch mob against people who do certain things? Things that at the moment are acceptable? What if they’re collating data on what I like, where I go?

After all we’ve seen Afghanistan turned from a progressive society to an impoverished Third World nation. Could being a tech literate woman be seen as evil by a future society?

So next time we talk about Surveillance and who is tapping into what – remember that the Internet is wide open and absolutely anything could be happening out there.

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  1. November 5, 2014

    Couldn’t agree more. I don’t think much I do online is all too secure haha. Sounds like I do what you do. Maybe we just hold to the truth, that if you don’t do anything “too” bad (relative 😉 ), there’s no reason to worry.

    I like this line,” At the back of your mind there is the whole Big Brother thing and what if, sometime in the future, there’s a lynch mob against people who do certain things?”

    That’s funny you put it like that, because you really never know. One thing could be “evidence” for something > that you never actually did…sort of thing.

    I think it’s just best to assume everything is watched…as long as it’s not debilitating 😉

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