Permanent Record

Update. I added the following as a comment, but am pulling it up for those that might not see it otherwise:

Author: Brent Logan

Engineer. Lawyer. WordPress geek. Longboarder. Blood donor. Photographer. More about Brent.

9 thoughts on “Permanent Record”

    1. Business opportunity?! Haha! That’s why it’s going in my permanent record(s)…

      Let’s think for a moment about the sorts of things being captured and stored in internet-connected databases. Being an Android user who also uses Gmail and Chrome, Google probably knows the most about me:

      • Every website I go to including the contents, how long I’m there, whether I scroll, where the mouse pointer goes, etc.
      • Whether I go to church, and if so, how often and where
      • When I go to the doctor, the hospital, or specialists
      • Every search I enter (Btw, from this data, correlated with others’ search data and where they’ve been, Google can know whether I have a serious medical condition before I do)
      • Everywhere I go with my phone, when I’m there, and likely, who I’m with
      • My transportation habits, whether I drive (and how I drive) or use mass transit
      • Who I communicate with via email and the contents of my emails
      • What media I consume on my computer using my browser, on both Google-owned sites (e.g., Youtube) or others (Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc.)
      • What pictures I take, how I edit them, whether I look at them later, and who I share them with.
      • Who’s in my pictures
      • Everything on my calendar and to-do lists, tasks, and reminders. Whether I get things done on time or whether tasks regularly get pushed a day or two. And which tasks those are.
      • Everything in my Google Docs, Sheets, etc. Plans, tracking spreadsheets, shopping lists.
      • All my social media accounts, who I’m connected with, who I communicate with, like, block, mute, etc.

      My ISP knows a lot, too, though I’m hoping to minimize that through providing my own DNS protected with encryption.

      Verizon knows who I call and text and my location at all times. At least, when I have my phone with me. Yeah, that’s all times. Being the ISP for my phone, they know all the sites I visit using my phone.

      My bank knows all my finances, who I work for, my pay, and where I spend my money. How often I maintain my car and whether I make charitable donations and to whom. Where I like to go out for lunch and how often I go to Starbucks.

      Honeywell knows what temperature I keep my house and at what times. From that data, Honeywell knows when I go to bed, when I wake up, when I leave the house, and when I return. Honeywell knows when I’m on vacation.

      My grocery stores know what I like to eat. Fred Meyer’s also knows what sizes of clothing I buy.

      Starbucks knows where I am in the morning and what I order. (In an attempt to change my behavior to buy more and different items at different times of the day, Starbucks offers me stars. Interestingly, during last January, the lost all of this stream of information by offering the refillable coffee travel mug. I wouldn’t be surprised if this next year I have to scan my card/phone to use the travel mug.)

      Don’t forget the license plate scanning cameras that know where you are when you drive, the cameras with facial recognition, and the Stingray phone trackers.

      None of this includes the sorts of information we intentionally put on the internet using Facebook, Twitter, or our personal blogs. (Of course, Google crawls my blog and adds that to my permanent record, too.)

      So no, maybe not everything, but it’s getting closer every day.

      1. At this point the amount of data that’s pouring off of us is insane. Of course its much less coherent than it might seem, but.. that will come. I’m not sure I believe all of the marketing or Cambridge Analytica claims, but.. I do believe motivated individuals with white or black hats can stitch together a pretty good story about anyone with enough time and money.

        If a good business builds around a clear pain-point, I certainly feel like the current situation w/ my privacy is a total pain. I might be in a minority tho. Would I pay extra to have all those experiences — ie my identity and transaction — you outlined above to be anonymized? Distributed ledger systems could do this if there was the right business motivation.

        You seem pretty sanguine about your personal data bouncing around the interwebs. Would you pay to be anonymous? Like — $1/day? $10/day? $100/day? Or you’re happy with the state of affairs?

      2. Yes, it’s insane the firehose of information streaming off of us. Yet, I think a lot of it is coherent. Google gets an all-encompassing view of me. Facebook tries to follow me around the internet. Thanks to Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin, Facebook doesn’t get to see as much of me as they’d like. It used to be pretty easy to see what Facebook thinks about you, but it’s no longer a top-level menu, if it’s available at all.

        Anonymizing my life would require me to make some significant changes:

        • Get an iPhone. Apple isn’t in the business of selling me ads so it doesn’t try to collect the same amount of information that Google does.
        • Stop using Gmail. There are alternatives, see ProtonMail, that are pretty good, but don’t have the same level of spam protection that Gmail does. And it costs, but I don’t think too much.
        • Stop using Google Chrome, at least for personal purposes. (Work still uses G Suite, so the integrations with Chrome are fairly compelling.) That’s harder because Chrome has awesome developer tools, including the mobile audits, that are hard to find elsewhere.
        • Stop using loyalty cards. That’s probably not a very big deal, and quite frankly, I don’t think I’m leaking much important information there. Tell me how I’m wrong… ;-)
        • Stop intentionally publishing information on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and here on my blog. At least I’ve drastically decreased the PII I’m leaking, but some already-published stuff I’d need to delete.

        So would I pay? Unless I’m willing to do the free things listed above, paying for anything else seems pointless.

        Asking a blogger what he’d pay to be anonymous seems to be asking the wrong question… ;-)

      3. Between Gmail and Chrome I agree that Google has a pretty comprehensive picture of me. Thank goodness they’ve pledged to not be evil! I guess I bought it.

        Blogging is different. That’s voluntary self-publishing. How much you choose to reveal, or if your site is really just a way fake out everyone with the Brent Logan persona — you could be a 13-year old girl for all I know!

        Re: privacy tho — I have a couple (at least 4?) friends that are super private — don’t allow digital pictures taken of them, have zero social media accounts, use only corp email for work and things like protonmail for private mail, etc. Not sure I’m headed that route yet, but I like the idea of leaving a light footprint. Obviously moving off of The Google would be a first step.

      4. I have some sad news for you: Google removed the “don’t be evil” line from its code of conduct. I suspect that helps when they want to provide censored search results for repressive regimes…

        I don’t see a big difference between intentionally publishing personal information and knowingly using internet services that gather it from my behavior. In both cases, information about me exists on the internet that could be used with bad intent.

        I could be a 13-year-old girl?! You must have seen my Pokemon Go avatar. :-D

        I also know of someone (intentionally being vague here to respect their wishes) that doesn’t want pictures of them posted on the internet, or any other information, for that matter. Some see anonymity as their superpower.

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