Digital Changes We Can’t Control

It is a beautiful mid-January day in Salt Lake City, Utah; sunny and verging on 50 degrees. During lunch with my adult daughter today I heard the medial news story that the NSA is suspected of adding radio wave tracking software to over 100K consumer computers in 2013. Why would the NSA need to track random computers sold to consumers? Whose hands are they hoping these new computers equipped with secret radio wave tracking software will fall into? Furthermore, news stories such as these leave me wondering what other secrets the media knows about our cyber protection and or intrusion that they choose not to share with the American public.

Just a few days ago I was conducting a search online when a banner ad appeared for the neighborhood development where I live. I was surprised to see they even had banner advertising so out of curiosity I clicked on the flashing ad. Unfortunately and to my surprise, it took me directly to, not the builder’s website, but the developers site, which had a “live cam view” of my street and house.

Time for some local public relations outreach in my neighborhood! It is uncomfortable knowing the developer is showing my street, home, and my comings and goings live 24/7 for anyone in the world to view and track. I contacted the developer and left a message but have not received any return calls. Now that I know where the  web cam is positioned I notice it every time I drive by. If they don’t take it down they are doing a disservice to everyone living on my street. I’m currently preparing letters for all of my neighbors to sign to request the removal of the camera. I highly doubt my neighbors like being watched as much as I do! In fact, in the event that the local SLC based developer chooses not to remove the live camera feed, this would be a great evening news story for Utah’s Get Gephardt.

Lastly, a week or so ago I was watching Shark Tank, a TV show featuring aspiring entrepreneurs. A bright-eyed man pitched a cheap piece of plastic that fits onto the edge of a laptop, iPad or tablet to cover the camera. In his sales pitch he stated that the U.S. federal government currently uses the technology and camera inside our smart phones, computers, laptops, tablets, and iPads to monitor users. Lori, one of the show’s investment sharks turned to another investment shark Robert–who is involved in the security industry–and asked, “Do they really use our cameras to watch us?” Robert nodded his head in the affirmative. Then the not-so-tactful entrepreneur asked Lori if she was ever nude in front of her computer to which she replied yes. Needless to say, this is just one more way for Big Brother to keep tabs on each of us without our knowledge.

Hearing this made me happy to know that for the last seven years I have covered the camera on my laptop with electrical tape because I don’t like Skype calls to automatically show video unless I want it to. I had no idea internal software allowed hackers to access the camera inside my computer or tablet and keep tabs on me, my family, my home and my office. Now that I know this is happening I will be adding tape over the rest of my portable device cameras for added protection.

With all three of these experiences in less than a week of each other, it makes me wonder what is next? Will they randomly embed cameras and radio software into our contact lenses or the dashboards of our vehicles? Who knows? Maybe they already have tracking cameras in newer vehicles through technologies such as Lexus Support or Onstar and GPS programs. Glad I drive an older vehicle! Back to the title of this post: It is sad but true. We can’t control the digital changes even when they encroach upon our own privacy!