I have been privileged to Post as a guest on ATW, David’s blog for a few years now. Some of my posts have been received with bile and acrimony, one has even been withdrawn because I was blogging about something I have neither great knowledge of, nor sympathy with; namely Sport, and more importantly Olympic Sports: but on the whole my posts have been received by the ATW community of readers with a keen eye for detail, some amusement at some of my stances, and, in the main, consideration, respect and tolerance.
During these many blog postings, the extent of knowledge about my private life has always been controlled by myself. I have stated that I live in Durham City, but that is all. You are aware that I have three adult kids, along with three grandsons, all of whom I am inordinately proud; but apart from a very small number of photos, the wider world knows nothing of my family, or its circumstances apart from what they choose to display. That is how it should be, because my two sons each have their own families and their own lives to control. But more and more, our lives; in this most intrusive of digital ages, are becoming like as an open book.
Firstly, some statistics. In August last year, Facebook was closing in on one billion subscribers. That is an astonishing number; 1,000,000,000.00. True, most of this huge number comprise millions of small ‘circles’ of ‘friends’, although it beats me that a measure of your own ‘popularity’ is to check whether a certain number of people who have probably not only never met you, but live elsewhere upon this planet, have clicked on, or asked to be, your friend. As an elderly, but still both alert and mentally active man, I just don’t see the point! Perhaps the billion ‘friends’ would number less if they ever learned that they were viewed as ‘meat on the table’ for a bunch of cynical marketing men whose sole purpose in funding the immense Server Farms necessary to organise and corral all these people’s details is so they can target them with adverts for goods and services. Needless to state I am not on Facebook, nor will I ever be. Everyone else can do as they please, but I not only have enough real friends, but I don’t wish the whole world to know what I am doing every second of the day.
Google is approximately the same as Facebook, not in what it does but in its targeted adverts on gmail as well as on every page of ‘search results’ produced by its huge computer networks. At least Google is being honest, or as honest as they will ever admit to, with their statement that adverts can and will be ‘tailored’ to the individual consumer, but they have only just been made to ‘come clean’ over the hoovering up of personal data through unprotected WI-Fi systems on thousands of British and American homes. If they weren’t going to use it, why on earth did they specifically trawl for it while sending their camera cars out for ‘Street View’?
Apple is planning to send camera-equipped planes and satellites over you, wherever you may be, and photograph you in 3-D, whether you like it or not. Those high-grade images will be available world-wide, and just imagine what use say, a local British council will do when, by use of this free gadgetry, they establish that you have built an extension, a conservatory or a swimming pool without planning permission? I should think that Charles Farr would be having serial wet dreams at the very thought of having that sort of information at his Departmental finger-tips. This Coalition Govt’s plans for an intrusive array of spy systems which would make the Chinese blink at its all-encompassing width do not sit well from a bunch which stated that they would be reducing State intrusion into our private lives.
So, as from this morning, with regard to the snoopers and especially to Charles Farr, I am going ‘incognito’ whilst on the web, and will be adding such words as ‘nuclear’, terrorist, bomb, plutonium, allah akhbar, 72 virgins, jihad, etc. to every e-mail I send, so that when Echelon is triggered, my data, along with all the other totally irrelevant messages, will fill up the data farms far quicker than David Cameron or Theresa may could ever imagine! If you wish, you too can be invisible; click the spanner on Chrome, then go to ‘Incognito window’ and you are, to all intents and purposes, invisible! Same thing is available on IE9, or whatever browser you use.