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  •   A recent article covering the latest in personal privacy protection techniques can be found here.

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Are You Paranoid Yet?

You can be tracked wherever you go by your cell phone.

In case that's "old news," consider this.

By either remotely installing spyware in your computer or taking advantages of existing vulnerabilities in your software programs, it's possible to record your passwords, turn on your computer's camera and microphone, and even steal documents from your computer.

>>You are even more at risk from your smartphone because you tend to carry it everywhere and the microphone and camera can also be turned on remotely.

Think about that the next time set you have a private conversation with a friend or when you set your cellphone on the bedside table and have that special friend over.

>>Could this vulnerability be fixed?

Yes, but the government and some telecommunications companies don't want it fixed, because the information collected on individuals is valuable when sold to third parties.

  • A 2013 film that delves into this is called Terms and Conditions May Apply, available on Netflix, which takes a close look at the lengthy fine print agreements which we  routinely agree to when we install software or use Internet services.  This film will open your eyes on how much of our privacy we sign away in clicking on "agree."  

Terms and Conditions May Apply is one of a number of recent films that shows the erosion of our civil liberties and how people can get in trouble by exercising perfectly legal acts of disagreement with government policies.

Although whistleblowers are supposed to be protected from recrimination, by redefining "whistleblowing" to "leaking" in some cases jail terms have resulted.

You might believe that a warrant is necessary before the government can hack your files or seize your computer.

Not only is that not necessary because of some interpretations of the Patriot Act, but it's even against the law to report these efforts.

This, of course, sends a strong message about reporting government and corporate malfeasance and clearly illegal activity -- especially considering the symbiotic relationship between the government and some major corporations.

>>For coping with this surveillance state, see Yellow dot Thwarting Electronic Eavesdropping on this site.


If none of this makes you paranoid, you might join the conspiracy theorists who point to the unfortunate consequences for some journalists on the verge of breaking major stories.
 
We'll cite two recent examples.

>>Audrey Hudson, a reporter for the Washington Times, had key files removed from her home on a story she was doing about institutional corruption.

The government, which had taken the files, reportedly turned them over to the very people she was investigating.

The government was supposedly not investigating Audrey Hudson but her husband. 

At the same time her work on exposing scandal was clearly referenced in the government's pre-dawn Department of Homeland Security and Maryland police raid.

Audrey Hudson's files had the names of government sources documenting how the Federal Air Marshal Service had lied to Congress about the number and nature of airline flights.

>>Another recent example involved the award-winning journalist, Michael Hastings. Hastings was a highly respected 33 year-old American journalist who broke a number of major stories including one that directly led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2010 resignation as US commander in Afghanistan.

In 2013, Hasting's Mercedes inexplicably blew up and crashed into a tree, burning Hastings and his car beyond recognition.

Although the FBI said Hasting's death was an accident, several observers say that certain facts do not support the "accident" explanation.

A friend said that Hasting was doing an expose on CIA director John Brennen and his role in cracking down on investigating journalists.

The anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks said one of their attorneys was contacted by Hastings just hours before his death.

Added to this is the fact that Hastings told friends shortly before his death that he suspected that he was being followed and he thought his car had been tampered with.

It would appear that trying to expose corporate and governmental wrongdoing can not only result in some rather negative consequences for reporters, but make them think twice before trying to expose wrongdoing.

Is this not the opposite of what the founding fathers clearly had in mind when they singled out a free press in the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments?


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