[This is a guest post by our long time Roving Reporter, Rosalind]

It may have been the moment I found a private drone filming me at night through an upstairs window.

Or the medical receptionist’s surprise when I wouldn’t sign in on the touch pad until she showed me a copy of what I was agreeing to, saying I was the first to ever ask for this.

Or at the end of a recent physical therapy session, after an hour divulging the most private and confidential health information, when I bent down to put on my shoes and discovered an Amazon Alexa blinking back at me.

Doorbell Surveillance Cameras and Microphones. License plate readers. Delivery robots. Security robots. Dashboard cams. Bike helmet cams. All recording our every move. Our personal privacy is being striped-mined, data-mined and packaged up for corporate profit, and we the people are assisting all the way.

I am not a technophobe. I AM someone who has the perhaps radical idea that before any device that permanently collects our biometric info is put out in the world, the company must first provide verifiable proof that their widget actually does what it claims, and fills a true societal need.

As the Amazon/Apple/Google panopticon leads the way in creating ever more horrific ways of monetizing our individual selves, we must collectively hit pause and consider the ramifications. The technology feeding our Brave New AI (Artificial Intelligence) Algorithmic World isn’t being built by benign super geniuses. Ignore the number of supposedly astute folk who wax orgasmic over the possibilities of AI as if it’s untouched by human hands. Newsflash: (Charlton Heston voice) AI – is – people! More specifically, a self-selected narrow slice of the human spectrum. Flawed humans propagating and programming their every bias and prejudice into their final products that are then put on the market to travel the world.

Say hello to medical devices that don’t work on darker skin. Light sensors that don’t register darker skin. Home computer school proctoring software that don’t register darker skin. Sensing a pattern here?

The hottest area in surveillance is emotional recognition, companies claiming their products are able to discern our very thoughts. Smiling = happy! Frowning = Sad! Congrats, Silicon Valley, for finding a way to monetize Resting Bitch Face! It would be funny if it wasn’t so fucking scary. Forget the idea that each internal brain, processing the world in its own unique way, could ever be decoded by the exterior. Full stop at the idea that private corporations are claiming rights to our private thoughts, as they insert this fatally flawed algorithm into programs currently denying you a job, a mortgage or health care.

We gotta hit the brakes. The first way is to understand what you’re agreeing to when you bring new tech into your life and home. The tiny font, multi-page “Terms of Service” and “Privacy Notice” are designed for you to give up and auto-smash the “accept” button. The three things to remember are “The Corporation” may collect and keep forever anything it wants, any agreement you signed is null and void upon sale of “The Corporation” to another, and your personal info becomes the property of the new “Corporation”. And “Personal Information” includes: facial recognition, iris scan, voiceprint, fingerprint, palm print, body type, gait, emotional state, DNA, health conditions, and on.

It’s time to re-discover the power of “no”. We have the ability and the right to challenge privacy violations. Corporations count on, and invest millions seeding one-sided stories, for us to simply accede to ever more invasive tech without a fight. After discovering the Amazon Alexa with its multiple omni-directional microphones blinking back at me in my physical therapy office, I went home and composed a polite but pointed email to the owner. She replied a few hours later thanking me. She hadn’t considered the ramifications of these devices, and had removed them from the rooms.

Beyond the personal invasion of privacy inflicted by our growing Surveillance Nation, is the very real damage it’s doing to the fabric of our Nation. The chief driver in my opinion is the Amazon Doorbell Ring Camera & Microphone. First Amazon turned us into package addicts, promising faster and quicker fixes. Then when the inevitable occasional package theft occurred, flooded the zone with cameras and mics and smartphone notifications amping up fear beyond the facts. Then the sharing – often in realtime – of the footage with Facebook or Next Door or the Local Police and the weaponization of the nosey neighbor began.

Most articles about the Ring set it in a single family home suburban setting, with footage capturing the street and the homes across. They never consider the Ring in an apartment or condo setting where doors face one another from just a few feet away, where a neighbor you have never met may film and record your every move. This is my reality, but thankfully no neighbor on my floor has yet installed one, but they are spreading throughout the complex and every conversation with neighbors is “ZOMG, Crime!!”. Impervious to the facts that our local crime rate has stayed stable, and no package has been stolen for years, their solution to any perceived problem is lights, cameras and microphones – so they “feel” safer.

Instead of safer, a nation of paranoid voyeurs is creating life-threatening situations for innocents caught up in their cameras, calling the police out for anyone they deem suspicious – i.e. a white person seeing a person of color in “their” neighborhood (hey, Amazon was able to create a tech that DOES recognize darker skin!). This week saw the idiotic example of a neighbor helpfully returning a mis-delivered package, placing it on the recipient’s porch, when Father and Son inside got the doorbell camera alert and rushed out – armed – to bag the thief messing with their package. No one in sight, they ran into the parking lot where they saw a woman sitting in her car. Aha! Blam! Blam! Blamblamblam! Thankfully the woman, a different person than the helpful package returner, was unharmed.

My personal breaking point occurred when I experienced a medical situation that required my calling 911 (all good – a minor issue producing dramatic blood). As I stood at my front door awaiting the paramedics, staunching the blood flow, I stared at my neighbor’s door staring back, realizing if I lived a floor below every moment of my terror would’ve been captured up close and forever, potentially broadcast live to the world. My Amazon datafile would be updated to include “this is what Rosalind looks like undergoing a medical emergency” and the Bezos Borg’s definition of who “Rosalind” is duly repackaged for redistribution.

For a neighbor on another floor who chose to die at home under hospice care, her final exit in a body bag on a stretcher was captured by four cameras and mics, her file updated to “this is what the neighbor in 4B looks like when she is dead”. Her mortal self ceased, her captured biometric self doomed to life eternal.

Before any device that permanently collects our biometric info is put out in the world, the company shall first provide verifiable proof that their widget actually does what it claims, and fills a true societal need. Then We the People have a choice to make. Please choose wisely.

211 replies
    • Giorgino says:

      And I thank the hosts as well, for publishing your well elucidated and detailed from experience expose. As a long-time security software developer, I still get chided for not having a cell phone. Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not watching you!

      • rosalind says:

        heh. i am not a phone person, have no need for a computer on my phone, so use a flip phone. 3G is going away at the end of the year and my current cell will be DOA, and i’ve discovered they’ve degraded the quality of the very few flip phones on the market to the point they’re useless. may very well be joining you in a cell free life.

        • J R in WV says:

          Our very rural home is on a West Virginia hillside, in a rocky cove, surrounded by rock faces and moss-covered boulders the size of a small house. Perhaps needless to say, there is zero cell phone signal anywhere around the house, as cell signals are line of sight and all you can really see is geology.

          But we do have a cell phone, which lives on the console of the car, turned off, mostly, until we need to make a call. I don’t do messages, but do have a phone list of doctor’s offices, the vet hospital, businesses we do business with, etc.

          You would be astounded by the battery life you get with an ordinary cell phone (an LG in this case) when it is turned off 98% of the time. Otherwise, I agree that big data is way too intrusive.

          I’m not sure you can blame the porch delivery shooting incident on Amazon/Ring tech. Those guys were just totally messed up, and were a shooting looking for a place to happen. No surprise the innocent lady in the car was almost certainly dark in hue…

          ETA: our personal computers run Linux, open source software that is free, and which you certainly do own. Same for most of the tools used by the Linux boxes.

        • John Thomas says:

          Name altered to 8 character requirement.

          Fellow semi-Luddite here. My computer stays in my home office and I keep a DSLR camera in my car.

          Verizon offers a Kyocera flip-phone (Model E4610) with texting capability and an outstanding battery life.

          Each number key represents three (or four) letters, so lengthy texts can represent quite a challenge.

          Regardless, I’ve been using them for ten years and highly recommend the Kyocera (can’t say the same for Verizon’s service, though).

        • BrokenPromises says:

          Thanks for the great article. If you do gravitate to a smart phone I’d recommend that you just buy a basic one and avoid the data side for any at risk offerings that require personal information. You can use the phone functions the same as with the flip phone. It will make texting easier. But many many apps on phones put personal info at risk.

      • KB says:

        I have a burner phone but refuse to get a cell phone, which resulted in being insulted by my retirement fund customer disservice guy. I won’t have anything more. This one serves to reset my insurance code every 4 months (which I hate, but it’s all they accept.) Otherwise I use it to report wildfires and carry to the barn in freezing temperatures in case of an injury.

        Otherwise, all hail terrible cell service.

      • GWPDA says:

        For many years I was part of a big deal credit card/travel company, writing communications protocols for the company’s worldwide technological use. My days were spent surrounded by high-level nerds and telecommunications geeks who installed the means for cell use. The highest level telecomms people admitted that their home phones ran on copper lines, the nerds agreed the last thing they wanted were hand-held computing devices and the plain comms folks were just as inclined to send a post card as anything else. It’s not ‘technophobia’ it’s implementing knowledge to ones benefit, rather than to some company looking for profit. If you need an updated flip phone, C. Cellular reached out to me and replaced my 3G with a 4G with no problems at all.

    • Honeybee says:

      Totally agree. Also there is no guarantee that the panopticon really knows what it’s pinning to our personas. Just recently, I noted oddities on my phone via privacy analytics. Phone appears to be creating “buckets” to capture such information as “biological sex,” menstrual cycles, pregnancy prediction, sexual activity, cervical mucus (!) and of course whether I also wear an Apple watch – I do not, and I am 70 years old. My husband, who has a few years on me, also had the same data buckets added. In trying to figure out why, I finally decided it must be a widget for folks who are trying hard to get pregnant, but no idea why it would show up on our supposedly smart phones or what the new militant right-to-lifers might want to do with such information. Fie on these nasty voyeurs!

  1. L. Eslinger says:

    You don’t own software (including games and other forms of entertainment) anymore, you rent it, which also means that you must remain connected to some licensing server which can track what you use, when you use it, and what you do with it. You are also pushed to keep all of your data in various parts of “the cloud,” where it can be difficult (perhaps impossible) to control or protect. And where does the data acquired from “always on and connected” devices, ranging from your big screen television to the accelerometer fob your insurance company wants you to put in your car, actually go, who has access to it, and how is it used?

    Am I paranoid? Perhaps, but I also have worked on projects for Fortune 100 companies, such as methods for identifying and tracking grocery store shoppers (whether or not they want this) and using real-time data from LEO body cams to collect and process data to identify persons (our development systems used driver license databases which we were given access to) within visual range (and geo-tag and record this information and provide covert notifications to the officers and other parties).

    Beyond all of the automated direct capture and storage of data there is what we referred to as “contextual awareness,” which involves using multiple types and sources of data to identify individuals and reach a wide range of conclusions about them. Quite simply, you cannot know who knows what about you, or what they will do with this information and who they will share it with. You may not know it, but through contextual awareness and the aggregating of data it’s possible to identify you through what may seem like non-specific data, such as the globally unique identifiers built into the radios and processors of your electronic devices.

    The frog of personal privacy was boiled more than a decade ago.

    • Giorgino says:

      Why do so few folks care? Convenience is one thing, but really, at what cost? It always astounds me how easily people give up their consent, their info. What, Google “reads” your email? Yes, more than a decade ago.

      I hate to be rude, but as they say in FL: Nobody home, nobody cares. Suck it, fuck it and stick it in a bucket.

      • skua says:

        Many who don’t care can’t imagine the data being used against them – they never learnt of IBM being feted by the Nazi’s for having so quickly compiled lists to enable the efficient rounding up of Jews, don’t see the cold blooded execution of an innocent Brazilian backpacker on the London Tube as at all relevant to how their personal data can be mistakenly misused, just don’t feel that identity theft with all its consequent stress and consumption of time could happen to them.

        “I’ve got nothing to worry about as I never break the law.”

        • Rayne says:

          People who think “I have nothing to fear, I’ve done nothing wrong” are exercising a massive amount of privilege. Huge. So much privilege they’re complicit in building the surveillance state.

          How many good Germans thought the same thing as their Jewish neighbors were forced to wear symbols of their faith? Or if gay, based on their sexuality? or when those same neighbors were carted off?

        • L. Eslinger says:

          In some cases there may be a willful ignorance at work, too, which is a bit like my sister’s behavior in the 1970’s: she never checked under the hood of her MG Midget because she didn’t want to find anything unsettling (and she didn’t want to take the time to learn the basics of maintaining her car).

          In an advertising-driven economy one might want to believe that passivity and ignorance are cost-free, but one shouldn’t be shocked when leaving the WWW/IoT door open allows trouble to find and own you. As with a four-banger that has little coolant and sludge for oil, cleanup and return to service can be pricey, if at all possible.

          This relates to Rayne’s post in that ignoring problems that one doesn’t think affects them personally can have a nasty way of extracting unpleasant, unanticipated costs.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh man, with an MG, as with any British Leyland product, you need to look under the hood once a week at least.

        • Lawnboy says:

          Lucas electrics , heart of darkness!

          I could go on….but 40 below zero in a midget on the road to Banff when the engine comes apart is a bad memory.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You need to “work” under the hood – or along the drive train, suspension, and undercarriage – once a week, actually, most of the weekend, if you want to drive to work during the week.

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    I’ll try to come back later for a longer comment than this. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that the situation is much worse than Rosalind knows. It’s worse because all software is broken. Broken in multiple ways. Even when an organization knows its software is broken, fixing defects must get prioritized. And guess what, corporations prioritize fixing things that will make them more money or lower costs. It’s literally their job. So everything is broken and we software developers know this and we just can’t explain it to normies.

    Imagine if one day someone discovered that they could turn any one mile stretch of the interstate highway system into a lava flow. Remotely. From anywhere in the world. Stuff like that gets discovered about the internet on a fairly regular basis.

    And one more thing. That verifiable proof that Rosalind is looking for? That’s almost, but not quite, impossible for any widget with software. None of the software you use (or is used on you) has ever been verified to do what it claims to do. Oh, there is some software that has proofs. Mostly in academia. In the corporate world, I know of 2 or 3 instances of production software that have proofs. Maybe there’s a lot more. I doubt it.

    • Giorgino says:

      Yes, no verification. A great example from Canukistan, my home, is the Tim Horton’s app. With an apology, they also provided Tim-bits as compensation for the intrusion.

    • Rwood0808 says:

      A developer I know has a saying:

      “I keep my secure software right on the shelf next to my child-safe plutonium.”

      Doesn’t exist and never will.

  3. PeteT0323 says:

    Thanks Rosalind. Definitely makes you think.

    The genie is pretty much already out of the bottle, but I do suppose we still have choices.

    I would never have Alexa and do not use Siri – as an example. Try not to create accounts at online retailers.

    Don’t – yet – have a smart TV, but limited streaming services already make viewing suggestions for me and that can only get worse with CATV cord cutting.

    Did do an article suggested sweep of my iPhone minimizing location tracking, but I suspect that has limited effect.

    It is challenging.


    New 8 character name if I can remember it.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. Save your new name to a text file on your desktop; you’re going to need it. /~Rayne]

  4. Matt___B says:

    Shortly after I moved into my current abode last December, I noticed a spherical object attached to the beam of wood above my front porch, pointing out to the front lawn and the street. I knew it was a security camera of some sort but didn’t know whether it was live or not. My new landlord had certainly never mentioned anything about it.

    When re-inspecting it at nighttime, I notice a ring of red LED’s forming a perfect circle around the lens which indicated that it had an electrical connection and was indeed live. When I brought the matter up with my landlord, he professed complete ignorance as to its existence and suggested I talk to my neighbor in the rear of the duplex, whose profession, as it turns out, was installing home security systems.

    My neighbor told me he installed it for the previous tenant, and guess it remained live after he moved out, but un-monitored by anybody. He told me what software to download and how to configure it so I could monitor this live camera which was already functional. The camera, by the way, was a Hik (Chinese) which the U.S. government has banned installation for in government buildings because of their security vulnerabilities, but are still very common in residential settings.

    So having being reassured that neither my landlord nor my neighbor in the rear were monitoring my porch camera, and having exhausted the novelty value of seeing my car parked out front from my computer screen (handy for reassurance while on vacation I suppose) and also the spooky renditions of the landscape at night when the camera automatically switches into infrared mode (turns from color to b & w, but heat sources, unseen by human eyes, show up as light), I never look through the damn thing anymore. I hope the Chinese government enjoys the view of the elementary school playground across the street, though, if they are looking…

    • skua says:

      Some of those cameras are specified to have microphones.
      Would I be confident that only those cameras have activatable microphones?

      • Matt___B says:

        This one doesn’t – I checked. The software has a volume control which doesn’t work and it has a circle with a diagonal slash through it indicating the device doesn’t have a mic. Reading through the manual, some of the higher-end security cameras not only have a mic, but remote-controlled PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) controls so the camera can be moved around. This one’s a basic unit – no mic, can’t be moved around…

        • theartistvvv says:

          Such a “spherical object attached to the beam of wood above *my* front porch” would meet a cylindrical object contacting it with home-run force, unless I could be arsed to climb a ladder (unlikely).

        • skua says:

          To check what I pointed at you’d need to check the electronic components and the circuit for its ability to transduce 200 – 5000 Hz sounds into electrical signal and also whether the cpu can be reprogrammed remotely to send that audio signal over the internet.
          If I was a Chinese government surveillance buearaucrat I would have pressured HikaVision or whoever into adding these capabilities.

  5. rip no longer says:

    Thanks for this post, Rosalind (and the courier bmaz.)

    “must first provide verifiable proof that their widget actually does what it claims, and fills a true societal need”

    Doing what it claims and filling some “true societal need” are two very hard things for any company to prove – or even advertise in truth. Most products are faulty, sometimes by poor execution, or sometimes intentionally and because unwanted actors have infected the process.

    I really don’t know how to parse the “true societal need”. On one level we would still be without electricity or even social gatherings. On another level we should be streaming our society to the galaxies. Does this mean just taking care of our burgeoning population as it exists now or in 100 years?

  6. PeteT0323 says:

    Step back to the start of the Internet and then the World Wide Web.

    Followed by the mass digitizing and indexing of public records of all kinds.

    I am an amateur genealogist. DNA matching aside there is a lot of information on most if not all of us readily available on the WWW. Some you have to subscribe to like Ancestry or or Fold.

    The digitized public record for a detailed obituary has often linked the deceased, their parents, and their offspring often revealing generations of family.

    Collection of data on people goes way back.

    Relatively easy digital access to it for the last 10-20 years.


    • FLwolverine says:

      I’ve researched the genealogy for my husband’s family. When I was showing the family tree to my brother-in-law and his family, someone asked me how the tree-building process worked on Ancestry. I entered BIL’s name and date and place of birth, and started to do the same for his wife, but she said “please don’t do that. I’m really uncomfortable having all that information out in public”. Now this is a person who’s practiced law for 30+ years, been mildly active in local politics, and ran for judge some years ago. I of course replied: “no problem. I won’t enter your name”, but I thought to myself, girl, you have no idea how much information is out in public about you. I hope you never Google your own name.

      (When I search my name, most of the referenced are to a literature professor in Texas and a dressage rider in the Netherlands. I like that.)

        • FLwolverine says:

          I agree with you about Alexa, Siri, and Ring, but (obviously) not about Ancestry. But then I’m only interested in past generations and rarely enter any people still living or younger than my generation (which is why my BIL’s name was not already in the tree).

          What’s your opinion on the use of Ancestry and other sources in law enforcement to identify criminals and victims?

        • TimH says:

          …use of Ancestry … to identify criminals and victims?

          It doesn’t. It identifies people with similar DNA. And DNA matching, like fingerprint matching, doesn’t use the full dataset.

        • posaune says:

          Although there are significant questions about our adopted son’s paternity, we refuse to allow him to create an Ancestry, 23&Me, or Family Tree account. Given that his birth family has a very troubled background, in the justice system and otherwise, we just don’t want his DNA out there. (We might consider a geneticist medical profile covered under HIPAA if a specialist could be found.)

        • P J Evans says:

          Having an Ancestry account doesn’t mean they have your DNA – that’s a whole different thing. Adoption records are frequently closed, and most states re-write the birth cert at adoption.

        • FLwolverine says:

          My understanding is that researchers use the information database to establish relationships among the people who are identified through the DNA database. The percentage of DNA match does not in itself tell you what the relationship between two people is. For example, there are seven possible relationships between two people who have a 73% match.

        • Fiendish Thingy says:

          I believe Ancestry restricts access to the data of living people to the person who entered the data on their account. Data on deceased persons is available to all.

        • rip no longer says:

          And of course the “I believe Ancestry restricts access…” is the devil in the details. We all believe that google “first does no harm” but we all know that is not true.

          Even companies that sign on to various pledges and agreements such as the GDPR are known to give them short shrift, especially when short-term profits are calling.

      • PeteT0323 says:

        Off main topic, but I think important re: Ancestry and DNA. I am NOT trying the influence anyone one way or another. I just have a good amount of experience working in these environments. Have found several “missing” parents, etc. It’s often an emotionally painful process BTW for a lot of reasons.

        1) There is Ancestry and Ancestry DNA. If you do both – take the Ancestry DNA test – then they are related so your Ancestry (tree) can reflect where your matches MIGHT fit. In any event, on Ancestry DNA as with many others like 23andMe, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA, etc, you can only see people you match with and, likewise, people can only see you if they match to you. Your tree can be private or public so you can force a DM inquiry if someone is interested.

        2) While any subscription DNA database could be subpoenaed I suppose, the site that garnered some law enforcement notoriety a ways back was To get your DNA into GEDmatch you must create an account (base level is free) and extract your raw DNA test data file from the source that you did your DNA with and then load it into GEDmatch. You can set your file import to “research” (I think) and you will not show up as a match when others search, but you can see your matches. You can also opt in/out to allow law enforcement to access your results – or not. I suppose that could be challenged under the right circumstances – IANAL. The “advantage” to GEDMatch is that, while voluntary to load into, it does have a rather large database of others who have voluntarily loaded into it from all DNA test providers so you do not have to go to these other sites (and pay for access). Granted there are many more test takers who never do GEDmatch as people who are more serious about DNA matching and know a bit about how it works tend to use it.

        Email me at if you want to know more.


  7. Tech Support says:

    Given the pervasive nature of the technology, the way it’s been intertwined into things that we generally aren’t willing to live without, and the general lack of attention to this issue by the public sector, it is tempting to fall into one of two polarized responses: Either throw your hands up and capitulate because the issue feels insurmountable, or go the luddite route and attempt to minimize all technology exposure to the point of potential self-harm.

    The good news is that like many other varieties of healthy behavior, there are simple things that you can do individually that can reduce your exposure and limit the degree to which your personal information space is compromised. Like developing a fitness routine or changing your diet, the details go beyond what can be addressed in a single comment but some quick ideas that are good for anyone to consider include:

    1. Eliminate all voice-response gadgets from your home. Not just Alexa as noted in the OP or similar tools, but also disable any voice-response behaviors on your mobile phone like Google Assist or Siri. Turn it off and/or throw it out.

    2. Repeating from a comment last week, but disable Location Services on your mobile phone by default. Deliberately turn it on when you need to get road navigation etc, but otherwise turn it off.

    3. Use Firefox as your primary web browser*. Install the following add-ons: Ublock Origin, Privacy Badger, DecentralEyes, & Facebook Container (even if you don’t use FB).

    * – Nerds will disagree about which alternative browser, which addons, and which configuration settings to enable/disable, but this particular setup establishes a much stronger baseline than vanilla Edge/Chrome and is very easy to install & configure.

    There’s a whole alphabet soup of additional measures that can be adopted. Some are more technically demanding than others but there’s a lot that can be accomplished without turning yourself into an IT expert. I’d recommend folks check out and for additional reading.

    • phred says:

      All good suggestions but misses rosalind’s point. Those of us who are scrupulous about minimizing our own exposure to online data harvesting have no recourse whatsoever when it comes to exposure because of other people’s bad habits.

      Don’t get me wrong, things like Alexa and Siri are game changers for people with certain physical limitations. My objection isn’t so much to the technology per se, but to the unregulated hoovering up of personalized data collection on even passersby that gets sold for profit and God knows what else. There is no reason for it other than there is money to be made. And it should be stopped.

      • bmaz says:

        We have no IoT things in our house. A few years ago we suddenly needed a new refrigerator. Most of the new ones we fancied were either connected or so larded up with electronic panels and controls it was nuts. That new fancy electronic controls stuff goes bad left and right. So we found a not very old and VERY nice used one with nothing but the old two analog dial controls. Works perfectly, and we are persnickety about things working. Extra bonus, it was about 1/4 of what we would have paid for even a mid level new one. As to travel by air, I’ll go get the Real ID I guess, but have no problem flying with my passport. I use it all the time to go to Mexico, so it is no problem to fly with it too.

        • rosalind says:

          one word of caution: i recently found out you can’t travel internationally on your passport if it is expiring within the next 6 months – you now have to get it renewed far enough in advance to avoid this scenario. no idea what triggered this, or if it includes travel to Mexico. or has this been a rule for a while that i’m just now discovering?

        • bmaz says:

          I dunno about the rule in play. We both here have almost exactly two years to go on ours, but will take note of that.

        • phred says:

          If you only have 2 years left, use your passports to fly domestically, then get a passport card along with the passport when you renew. Then you can skip the RealID ; ) Works great for us!

        • bjet says:

          Had to get real id to fly from/to AK per AK law. I saw no mention of a passport card option in the fine print on air travel, though of course driving there from lower states now requires a passport. Boat is the only way to avoid either.

        • phred says:

          That’s been a rule for awhile, but I don’t know how long exactly.

          The other tricky thing is the lead time prior to the expiration date varies by country. So, check the rules of your destination(s) before departure.

  8. bmaz says:

    All I know is, if somebody gave me a Ring Doorbell and an Alexa for Christmas, I would take them to the backyard, smash them to bits and then burn them in the outdoor BBQ.

    • Fraud Guy says:

      That might unleash toxic chemicals; I would turn the bits in to a local electronics recycling service to keep them out of my firepit/bbq.

    • Olav Kvern says:

      Someone did give us Ring cameras and doorbells–not for Christmas: they’d sold their house, and knew that we were having trouble with raccoons, squirrels, and rats and the occasional would-be thief. I also needed a doorbell–the 1920s-vintage original had given up the ghost.

      I did set them up, but the first thing I did was to disable all “sharing” with neighbors, law enforcement, etc. These options should not be turned on by default. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to turn them on.

      It did help with the animal intruders, and it also helped us figure out how people were getting into our back yard. Really, I don’t mind the people so much–we live near a neighborhood soup kitchen, so some are just looking for a place to shower (using our hose) or are simply lost. I don’t even mind that much when they poop in the side yard. It’s less cool when they steal things or leave sharps lying around.

      The doorbell camera helps me catch the mail before the postal delivery person puts a “sorry we missed you” note on the door.

      My neighbors asked me to put up a camera to watch their back porch, and we communicate via phone/email when they’re expecting an important package, or when something disappears. I do not look at the video from this camera unless they ask me to, and I delete it after two weeks.

      Could I have done this with another camera system? Sure–but I don’t have limitless funds. When someone offered to give me something that would solve an immediate problem, I took it.

      I can still smash them into dust (I’ll use a splitting maul). But it’s more likely that I’ll pass them on to another neighbor with a specific need for them.



      • rosalind says:

        thanks olav. the difference is your using your Ring in a conscientious way, turning off the sharing feature, working with your neighbors so all are in agreement about what is being filmed, etc.

        and yes those default options set to “on” – i wonder how many know that their Rings & other Doorbell cameras are conducting facial recognition on the images they record – it’s buried under the “for research purposes, product improvement” terms of service.

        • Rayne says:

          The challenge with conscientious usage of surveillance technology even with the best of intentions and privacy practices, is that technology gets hacked.

        • rosalind says:

          yup. i stressed the hacking possibility in my email to the owner of the physical therapy business, and continue to stress it with our condo HOA that whatever security they think cameras will bring can result in hackers getting access to the footage and able to track when someone is on vacation and their unit empty. The police have already told us the footage is almost always unsuable after the fact.

        • bjet says:

          The other thing about all of this unnecessary electronics is contribution to the rate of increase in global greenhouse emissions.

          The data industry bros have become like coal, auto, airline, chemical, pharmaceutical, agricultural, plastics, military & finance industries in the sense that they keep oil (& gas) industry market development & dependence stable & expanding by constantly coming up with & normalizing use of all these bells & whistles that use mentally disassociated ‘electricity.’

          Something peculiar going wrong in the electrical system (harness etc) for all that unnecessary jazz in car repairs is the most pain in the butt thing to trace out & fix.

          I had sensed & already see signs of cars w/ manual clutch, windows, lights, locks, dials, mirrors etc and no mandatory uplink for diagnosis & inspection are going to become luxury items only the ridiculously wealthy have the option of, (unless we push back).

          As for motion sensor klieg lights, these come on (and use ‘electricity’) constantly as the wildlife roams, and put you at a deadly disadvantage by eliminating cover of darkness when you step out of your own home.

      • Christenson says:

        Hopefully, you have realized that your ring doorbell might be buggy and not actually keep your data private….so you have locked down your router and prevented it from communicating with the internet as a whole.

    • ItTollsForYou says:

      Hopefully you would do this to the device and not the friend, but I wouldn’t blame you either way.

  9. tinao says:

    Happy Halloweenies! The one thing the trumpsters feel is the corporate greed. They point fingers at the democraps When it really is the coporatnistas! So their fears are real, just not what they have a clue to. Yeah, shit really matters this time,cuz I think we have a much better chance of gaining control for ourselves by putting people in office that actually understand what the problems are, Thanks Rosalind!!!!!

  10. Jim Luther says:

    Imagine the day when a statistical profile of a “terrorist” is created from nothing but cell phone data, then we proceed to launch million dollar missiles at the “terrorist” phones without knowing anything more. Then imagine the real terrorists selling used phones and/or SIM cards on the secondary market, so we waste millions and create more enemies by shooting missiles at the unlucky people that happened to buy the phones. Then imagine knowing we are doing it and continuing down that path for 20 years. Makes Ring doorbells almost seem quaint.

  11. rosalind says:

    thank you all for your comments. picking up from williman o’s “None of the software you use (or is used on you) has ever been verified to do what it claims to do.”

    correct. and where we have choices in bringing that unvetted software into our lives we must exercise it. where once there were amazon alexas inside my physical therapy rooms now there are none.

    yes there is a labyrinth of predatory software operating out of our sights, but i’ll never simply give up and accept the world they wish to make.

      • phred says:

        Great to see you, too! Was going to add more last night, but got called away. Off to catch up on all the new comments since then…

        Really appreciate the post, our regulatory system has not kept up with technology as it needed to and posts like this will contribute to the momentum needed for change… I hope!

  12. rosalind says:

    to the flawed algorithms currently in use: the Apple IPhone, and its touted ability to call 911 and a list of loved ones should you crash your car. the algo can’t tell the difference between a car crash or a rollercoaster ride or a phone dropped out of the pocket of a motorcycle rider on the freeway.

    our already stressed 911 systems are getting called out for phantom crashes, and loved ones are receiving distressing alerts. but yeah, definitely install one of those new tracking gadgets at your bedside to track every breath you take…what could go wrong?

  13. David F. Snyder says:

    Thanks, Rosalind. Good points. Though, it will certainly get worse once the quantum computers take over. :-/

  14. Doctor My Eyes says:

    Thanks for the timely rant.

    It wasn’t that long ago (100 years?) that our ancestors were quite clear on the dangers and obnoxiousness of surveillance. They enjoyed an active distrust of government and corporate intrusion. I often think of the fierce resistance to social security numbers being assigned to each American. To get them instituted, the government had to promise that they would never be used for identification purposes. Today, people think nothing of reeling off their last four digits in order to verify who they are to a stranger over the phone.

    • FLwolverine says:

      For a couple of years in the late 1960’s, my undergrad university used social security numbers as student ID numbers. The only good thing that came out of that was forcing us to memorize our SSN, but that was not worth the risk of someone misusing those numbers.

      • pdaly says:

        Along the same lines as your university, the state of Massachusetts used for years the SSN for everyone’s driver’s license number. Eventually a random number was offered as a substitute. It turns out drivers’ license numbers are “publicly available information.” Oh well!

      • Kreativekkj says:

        There was a time in the 60s when the police department encouraged everyone to engrave your SS number on your television set, bike or any other object that might be stolen, as a way to track who the object belonged to when they caught the burglar. They even loaned the tool out to people.

        • Matt___B says:

          I once recovered an electric piano stolen out of my car from a local music store that was re-selling it because the previous owner had etched his DL # onto not only the front panel of piano itself but the sustain pedal unit also (which I still had in my possession). The slimy music store owner had attempted to cover over the DL # on the piano with black shoe polish, which obscured it somewhat but it was still visible and clearly matched the number etched onto the pedal unit…

    • Gertibird says:

      Musk just tweeted that no one will be reinstated until he forms a “content moderation council” which will make those decisions. So that’s a good sign that maybe Twitter won’t become a right wing “hellscape” .

  15. arbusto says:

    Remember our friends in government? Homeland Security mandates either a valid passport or Real-id to board airliners or enter specific Fed properties effective 5/2023. Other agencies are implementing allowing simpler log-on across the spectrum. Real-id and may be the same developer. Anyway I got so pissed trying to complete the application I’m considering traveling by bus in our sorry future.

    • Peterr says:

      Real ID isn’t an app, but a set of standards that determine what is a valid ID for federal government purposes.

      To get on a plane, you have to show an ID that meets these standards, which means bringing a passport or Real ID-qualified identification like a drivers license that meets their requirements. To get either of those, the Real ID Act requires that you provide at least (depending on your state) “documentation showing: 1) Full Legal Name; 2) Date of Birth; 3) Social Security Number; 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence; and 5) Lawful Status.”, on the other hand, is indeed an app.

      • bmaz says:

        I need to go in and get my real id drivers license; Mrs.bmaz already has. But it is a hassle, and I don’t want to do it over the net. So, in the meantime, I will have to fly with my passport, and that is okay.

        • Matt___B says:

          I thought a passport card would be my friend when my passport expired after 10 years and needed to be renewed. I only needed to go from the U.S. to Canada to visit a friend who lived there. So I got one and discovered it’s no good for air travel – real passport required for that. The card was only good for boat, train or car travel across the international border, apparently. Airlines (and airports) require something more robust.

        • phred says:

          Use the passport card for domestic travel even on airlines : ) You do not need to get a RealID if you have a passport card.

          For international travel (amazingly Canada is international travel ;) you still need the passport itself.

        • Raven Eye says:

          DOS tells you the limitations as a travel document up front. That you can’t use the card as an international air travel document is not really an issue, since you’ll need a real passport anyway (can’t fit very many of those border entry/exit stamps on a card).

          Frankly, the main reason I got my passport card was to have an additional federal ID that is Real ID compliant. I’ve used it at airports for domestic travel.

        • Peterr says:

          Until a couple of years ago, the Missouri GOP refused to create a Real ID driver’s license, because of the Rightwing fear of a Federal ID card and enabling Big Brother.

          I had to take my passport to do funerals on military bases. The folks on guard duty were extremely happy I did, because they told me they have had to turn clergy around because they didn’t have proper ID. Ever since, they said they get nervous when they see someone driving up in a clerical collar. “We don’t write the rules, Father. We just have to enforce them.”

          Missouri finally caved and gave folks the choice – you can get a regular drivers license or a Real ID acceptable license — ’cause wingnuts gotta wing, you know.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I believe is an outsourced “service” provider. I’m sure it has more than adequate contractual limitations and clawbacks imposed by the gubmint, in the unlikely event it abuses, commercializes, or loses the data. Right.

      • rip no longer says:

        Yup – is a for-profit corporation that contracts with lots of federal and state agencies.

        The IRS tried to force everyone to use it to communicate online but there were naturally a bunch of privacy and control issues.

        Sort of like letting DeJoy be in charge of the USPS.
        Or Trump be in charge of the executive branch.

        I’m sure there’s plenty of money to be made here.

  16. Zinsky123 says:

    Thank you for writing this, rosalind! Very well-done and thought-provoking! Being a boomer, I remember the days when making still pictures meant getting grainy Kodak film developed at the local drugstore (sometimes taking two weeks) and hoping for six decent pics out of a roll of 12! Only the most wealthy families could afford an 8mm camera to take bad movies. Now everyone has a 10 megapixel zoom camera and sophisticated video recording and editing device in their pocket or purse. Imagine a world in which you could literally stitch together every second of your life on video – from the second you walk out your door and you are on your neighbor’s Ring doorbell phone, to the traffic camera on the lightpole on your street corner, to all the freeway cameras that track you on the highway to the cameras on every storefront on every business downtown to the overhead flying camera drones used by cops, security firms and governments to watch various buildings, fences and infrastructure. It’s here and everything will be recorded! Thanks again for bringing these threats so clearly into focus.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Is that why their leaves don’t fall in the autumn? Yes, I’ve noticed quite a few on the highway between SD and Phoenix. Not so many up toward Sedona.

      • Lawnboy says:

        Last week I ordered a carburetor for a weed eater and a 2 gram tone arm scale. Amazon delivered a DANCING CACTUS AND A BOX OF NAIR !!!!

        It played and danced to perhaps 50 songs.
        A Trojan horse perhaps?

        Your thoughts

        • Lawnboy says:

          I was thinking of using the Nair as carb cleaner! Make lemonade right, but it was all gifted. P.s. never got the order after two goes at it.

        • bmaz says:

          That is what Mrs. bmaz has found – unless the item involves a lot of money, they don’t want it b ack, they just tell you to keep it and give e you a credit.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Online retailers seem to write off inventory ($$$) like water. I’ve been having packages stolen from my porch for years. After wasting time trying to file claims with Fedex and USPS, I just went directly to the sellers–who immediately credited me for stolen items, even very pricey ones.

          Each time, the customer service reps tell me they don’t hear about package thefts often. I wonder if things aren’t getting stolen, or the recipients are trying to pursue it via the shippers. Fedex especially has no interest in helping you. Do not bother contacting them, as it’s a waste of your time.

  17. Tom-1812 says:

    I’ve always mistrusted things that are supposed to make our lives easier. I didn’t get a credit card until I was in my mid-30s and my old canary yellow Datsun 610 broke down hundreds of miles from home and I had to go through the hassle of going to a local bank to get money transferred from my home bank to pay for my tow and car repairs. I’ve never had a debit or other bank card and get my folding money face-to-face with a bank teller once every ten days or so.

    I don’t use cruise control and can’t imagine why anyone would want to have a remote starter for their car. The only time I want my car to start is when I’m behind the wheel.

    I have a cell phone but it’s only set up for text messages and phone calls: text messages because that’s the best way of keeping in touch with my kids, and phone calls so that I can call for a tow truck if my 17-year-old Vibe breaks down when I’m out and about.

    I never found it to be a physical ordeal to get up off the couch and change the channels or volume on my TV. Remotes are just another piece of plastic junk to keep track of and buy batteries for.

    I stopped ordering stuff from Amazon because they deliver it too quickly. You’re robbed of the pleasure of anticipation when you order a book one afternoon and a delivery guy shows up at your door the next morning.

    As for Alexa and smart thermostats and smart home appliances and doorbell cameras and all that other paraphernalia and impedimenta, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend the time, money, attention, and mental energy required to use, maintain, and keep track of all that stuff, never mind the privacy concerns.

    • harpie says:

      An important, timely topic, which is on my mind a LOT,
      so thanks to Rosalind and all the helpful comments.

      BUT, just reading up to this point, gave me an increasing sense of dread…until:
      “You’re robbed of the pleasure of anticipation when you order a book one afternoon and a delivery guy shows up at your door the next morning.”
      LOL! and thanks!

    • rip no longer says:

      Heck – I’ve had amazon deliver the book before I even thought about ordering it. Talk about stealing that wee bit of anticipatory pleasure. (Now I do have too many books that were too easy to get, and not just from amazon. And my library is an easy 3 miles away…..)

    • Christenson says:

      Remote start on a car has a use case…the freezing morning when you’d like to get into a nice warm car, or possibly on a hot day when bmaz wants to get in a toorelatively cool car instead of waiting for it to cool down.

      Cruise control has its uses too…if you are on a multi-hour trip on light traffic roads, it’s really helpful to move your legs around instead of constantly holding the accelerator in position.

      And I can make an argument for a disconnected roomba, vacuuming is not fun.

      But yeah, i can get off the couch for the rest of it, or type something into google if I want to know something.

  18. Parker Dooley says:

    Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness. But at least, when I scream at my television, I know someone is listening.

  19. OnKilter says:

    I’m not too concerned about Alexa or Ring doorbells or even the pervasive publicly available cameras infesting neighborhoods and cities and housing developments. Or speedy Amazon deliveries. These things seem to be part of the inevitable march of technology. Privacy sacrificed for (perceived) safety and undoubted convenience.

    I order from Amazon frequently, it’s hard not to shop at a store with an infinite product line, lots of customer reviews and unbelievable convenience. This is the future. There’s a reason that Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people on the planet- he developed the biggest and most convenient retailer in the western world, a cooperative venture along with millions of on-line retailers.

    So I live with it and try to find the safest and most private way to inhabit this new world while taking advantage of the time savings and conveniences.

    Am I wrong? I want to protect myself, and be protected, but I don’t want to retreat to a mountain cabin with no cell or internet access.

    FYI, the EU has implemented a law known as The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
    Perhaps the US ought to do the same, however with our dysfunctional system, it will probably never happen.

      • OnKilter says:

        Before I retired I too did sensitive work. I did that work on a computer that was air-gapped. When I did need to transmit data via the public internet, I encrypted it prior to transmission and physically moved the data to an internet attached PC using an external storage device (USB stick). I never had a security breach.

        But that’s inconvenient and sometimes impossible, depending on the software you are using and the work you must perform.

        Later on, I did lots of work as a contractor for a large system integrator. That company used their own VPN (Virtual Private Network), and had their IT department vet the end-to-end system frequently. So I was attached but not visible to the public internet. Hard to penetrate but not impossible.

        • bmaz says:

          I cannot air gap for what I do, I am a lawyer and have to deal electronically with clients, other lawyers and, most importantly, courts.

        • Christenson says:

          Then you probably want something like TAILS — linux from a CD, generally follow the recommendations of Krebs on Security for small businesses. And (I’m sure you already have it) some help locking it down.

    • Peterr says:

      “it’s hard not to shop at a store with an infinite product line, lots of customer reviews and unbelievable convenience. ”

      Um, no. It’s not hard at all. Generally, all it takes is a decision not to go there.

      It’s not hard to find what I want elsewhere, without enabling the behemoth that killed 90% of the independent bookstores that I have loved. It’s not hard to get it shipped to me, without enabling the labor-abusing workplace practices that put workers in their so-called “fulfillment centers” and their delivery vans at risk. All in all, I’d rather not enable a system where a gigantic middleman takes a cut from both sides of the purchase, uses its monopolistic powers to undercut and crush smaller companies, and demands giant tax subsidies from states and local governments to set up their warehouses.

      The only times I’ve used Amazon are when I have been given gift cards. Amazon may be convenient, but it’s certainly not required.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        Maybe it’s because I live an a very urban area, but I don’t feel the need to buy anything from Amazon. The company is so antithetical to my values and life. I can find everything I need locally and in some cases can even support local businesses with my dollars. As with you Peterr, the only time I used Amazon was when someone gave me an Amazon gift card. It made me feel dirty to use it, TBH.

        • OnKilter says:

          I live in an area that does not have those sorts of places, except for bakeries and restaurants and clothing stores (which I do frequent).

          But I’m not going to drive 7 miles to Home Depot or Walgreens for stuff I can have delivered. Is that wrong? Maybe I should walk, to save gasoline? That’s smart! But wait, isn’t Home Depot a problem? Should I go to the mom and pop hardware store? Nope, because they went out of business eleven years ago and won’t have what I need anyway.

          And then to get there and find that the exact thing I need is out of stock? Gee, I just wasted my time and energy to get nothing.

          When I can find exactly what I need in moments and have it delivered the next day (along with a thousand other deliveries made by the same truck)? I think that’s not so bad.

          The real story here is that time and technology marches on, relentlessly. And in this dog eat dog world, I am not going to mourn the loss of the buggywhip industry.

          Sure Amazon may be abusive. Maybe we need to elect some politicians who will pass some effective legislation to stop those abuses, oh wait, that’s not gonna happen either.

        • bmaz says:

          This is such total bullshit. If you want to use Amazon, fine, just do it and shut up. My family does to occasionally, it is what it is. but do NOT whine about having to drive a few miles to get to a Home Depot, that is crap. My closest Home Depot is about six miles away. It is nothing whatsoever to drive there. And neither is your alleged seven. Are you afraid of driving your car too?

        • OnKilter says:

          Now now, don’t get your panties in a bunch.

          Just saying this: When I can find something I need with 100% assurance, use less energy, less time and have it delivered to my door, it’s a good thing.

          Amazon may have its problems, but so do lots of other vendors.

          Why is Amazon the problem and not Home Depot (who put all the Moms and Pops out of business long before Amazon came along)?

          And I don’t mind driving at all, whatever gave you that idea?

          But I do mind driving unnecessarily- it’s a waste of energy and time.


        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Strawman. Both are bad, in different ways. Amazon is a global risk. Home Depot a national one. Walmart and other big box stores destroyed many a small town’s economy long before Home Depot came along, often subsidized so heavily by tax concessions that the stores were paid for before they opened their doors.

          Consider where their supposedly lower prices come from – from paying low prices to suppliers, who, in turn, hire the lowest wage labor on the planet, who put up with the worst working conditions.

        • P J Evans says:

          I use it for things I can’t otherwise find. I *don’t* have a Kindle, so I don’t buy e-books there.

    • holdingsteady says:

      The lure of Amazon is real, but the idea that it is the future is dystopian to me. Every time I succumb to ordering from Amazon it makes me feel icky.

      • theGeoguy says:

        And now, Amazon has or is acquiring Roomba. What could happen? See “Amazon’s Roomba Deal Is Really About Mapping Your Home, In buying iRobot, the e-commerce titan gets a data collection machine that comes with a vacuum.” posted at Bloomberg 8/5/22 and updated 8/6/22.

        • bmaz says:

          Our daughter is an electrical engineer and worked for TI for a few years where she was tasked to their work for Roomba. So she gave us one for Christmas a few years ago. It is unplugged and permanently parked underneath a piece of furniture, and never comes out from that cave. The thing does not work that well, and is extremely noisy. Don’t like it at all. We use our two Dysons, to much better effect.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yup, room dimensions, layouts, obstructions-cum-furniture, are very revealing, as is the addition of microphones.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Creative destruction is a contradiction in terms, never more so than when Wall Street is the principal beneficiary of any gains, which are inevitably shorn of the destruction required to release them – just getting their hair mussed – and who pays for it.

        • Epicurus says:

          Yes, it is an oxymoron. Perhaps I should have used Newton. “I have seen so far because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          I don’t mean to be pedantic, but epicureans are often interested in this sort of thing, so I offer it only as a curiosity. Newton was actually quoting Bernard of Chartres, a 12th century philosopher, when he said that.

    • skua says:

      A 120,000 ft view of your post leads to a question.

      Is even less fettering of consuming a good thing?

      A thought experiment:
      Imagine going through your day, minute by minute, with every urge, desire, fancy or whim being immediately fulfilled.

  20. Fancy Chicken says:

    Well this is a little different than doorbells but just as profoundly troubling to me.

    In 2012 I was arrested for protesting in NYC. We were taken down to the Tombs for processing and much to my shock they were retinal scanning everyone. When I said there was no way they were doing that to me I was promised that if I refused, rather than being arraigned the next day it would be days before I was called up. And it was.

    When I finally made it out to a courtroom I was shocked to see defendants walking up to an officer when their name was called and being scanned before going in front of the judge.

    I was told it was a pilot program between DHS and Manhattan district. I was appalled. It’s ten years later and I wonder how many other police departments are “piloting” in this program, and why is there no discussion in msm that this is happening.

    I waited 5 days to be arraigned for not getting retinal scanned, and while it really, really sucked at the time I’m glad I wouldn’t do it and wish there was some sort of mass uprising rejecting it. No damn good reason for it. Not yet.

    • Rayne says:

      Pilot program = Human experimentation without consent. I don’t recall ACLU tackling this issue, really should have.

    • bmaz says:

      You were fingerprinted though, no? A retinal scan would be no different in NCIC or CODIS than prints. That was a wasted few days. Next time call a lawyer, which you are entitled to do!

  21. Bears7485 says:

    For several years now I’ve been required to submit my personal health data to a third party or else pay a $100-a-month surcharge. I have raised my discomfort with the program multiple times to no avail. HR’s retort is “It’s a third-party company and they only provide us with the meta-data” to which I say I don’t give a fuck, what happens when that company gets hacked or sells my data?

  22. rosalind says:

    The rush to install video & microphone surveillance INSIDE hospital rooms is gonna need full force push-back – i honestly still can’t believe it’s being done. Beyond the gross invasion of privacy is that this is just another step Hospital Corporations are using to further reduce the already reduced number of nurses on a floor.

    And don’t get me started on the Apple Air Tag – the stalker’s wet dream. No prob, sez Tim Cook, all a woman needs to do is have a smart phone on her at all times, always turned on with location enabled, with Apple’s app loaded, and she’ll get an alert if a tag is active near her. Tough luck to all the other women!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The only useful purpose for an air tag is to stash it in your checked luggage during air travel. Airlines hate them; some try to ban them. Otherwise, inside a Faraday pouch is a good home for such devices.

    • Peterr says:

      There’s a certain amount of logic to monitoring this in a hospital room that doesn’t apply elsewhere. Patients are regularly attached to various monitors (heart rate, respiration, infusion rates, etc.) that are visible to monitors at the nurse’s station, so that if something happens that is out of the ordinary, they can jump to deal with it. Similarly, every patient has a button to open audio to the nurse’s station so they can alert them to problems or ask for help (“I need someone to help me go to the bathroom”). Video and audio from the patient rooms can augment this kind of medical connection between patients and nurses in a way that is beneficial to a patient’s health.

      That said, if this is done to decrease the number of nurses, that is a *huge* mistake. I can’t tell you how many visits I make to patients where they have told me “I pushed my button and told them I need help, and they said ‘We’ll be with you in a minute’ but no one has come in 30 minutes.” Video and audio will only amplify the problems with staffing, not serve to reduce the staffing levels needed.

      • Rayne says:

        IIRC, California is the only state with a mandated nurse-to-patient ratio. About a dozen or so have mandated guidelines but no firm enforced ratio. Let’s say one is in a state which doesn’t have any guideline, where the population is very anti-mask/anti-vaxx thus affecting staffing levels due to illness. Monitors including audio+video may be the only way the remaining staff can triage their limited personnel hours so that those most in need get it. With audio+video surveillance it may become more obvious there’s a staffing shortage, but how the hell does this get fixed after losing so many workers because of COVID and burnout? State mandates only help when there’s qualified willing staff to hire.

      • Frank Probst says:

        As a physician, I agree on this one. When I was (over-) working as a resident physician, prioritizing (and constantly re-prioritizing) all of things I had to do was a critical skill I had to learn. You’re often in charge of too many patients, and they can be spread across different floors and/or wings of the hospital. If I had been able to see and speak to any of my patients as quickly as possible, it would have saved me a lot of time and energy. It also would have protected the patient from abuse by the staff.

        If you’re in the hospital, you’re SUPPOSED to have trained professionals paying attention to you 24/7. That’s literally why you’re there.

        And I’m saying this as someone who had multiple “sign the touchpad without seeing the document you’re signing” experiences at my last surgery. The first time they did it, I caught myself before I said, “Are you fucking serious?” Then I just resigned myself to signing a bunch of documents without seeing them. The surgery had already been delayed for months while my insurance company dithered on its approval process. I wasn’t going to risk delaying it again. And to add to the irony, this happened at a hospital where I used to see patients.

  23. gmoke says:

    I assume everyone here has a piece of paper taped across the camera eye of their computer that they can remove when they want to appear on a Zoom. I did that years before I saw an advertisement for a product that would do it for me for an exorbitant price. A little tape, a little paper, and, even if someone remotely operates your computer camera, you’ve blocked their vision.

    Just a tip for the wise.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Applies to the front and rear cameras on phones. Duct tape is more durable than paper, but even it requires two layers to be opaque.

      • gmoke says:

        Duct tape ain’t what it used to be. I’ve been disappointed in the quality for the last 5 years or so.

        And, hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          I’m not affiliated with this company in any way (except by way of having spent a fortune on their tools), but good duct tape is just too handy not to pass on the link.

        • monkeywrench says:

          Duct tape from any store except from an hvac supply company is fake trash. The real stuff has code related markings every couple of inches (easy for the inspector to check for compliance), is super sticky (not even gorilla tape can match) and it isn’t cheap at $25 for a 2″ wide roll.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s very nice but duct tape — especially the ‘real’ stuff used in HVAC — is not a good solution for use on electronics.

          Most adhesives in tape from cellophane to duct tape contain solvents; they’ll act on plastic and etch the surface.

          I’ve tried electrical tape but it’s not great in warm weather, tending to lose its grip.

          Instead I use painter’s tape, placing a small piece the size of my camera lens with the non-tacky side to the lens and a slightly larger piece over it to hold it onto the mobile device. A black Sharpie marker does a nice job of coloring the blue tape so that it matches my phone and case; just don’t let the Sharpie come in contact with plastic as the ink is solvent based, too.

        • bmaz says:

          Used to be that if you asked EFF, they had a nice little custom sheet of things made exactly for this purpose and they would send it to you. Not sure if they still do that, but they are perfect.

        • Rayne says:

          I’ve not seen anything like that at EFF’s site. I’m sure folks can buy lens covers for their phones.

          But I use painter’s tape on all sorts of things from sealing pasta boxes to keep meal moths out to marking my F and J keys when the nubs wore off my keyboard. It’s cheap, plentiful in my house, and it works.

    • theGeoguy says:

      I skip the paper and use just electrical tape. Easy to remove and no gluey residue!
      (note new, longer name)

    • theGeoguy says:

      I skip the paper and use just electrical tape. Easy to remove and no gluey residue!
      (my attempts to change my name have disappeared)

      [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. Your comment was stuck in moderation, deleted it as it was a duplicate of this one save for the new name mention. You’ll note I’ve changed your name on this comment to match. /~Rayne]

  24. Doctor My Eyes says:

    OT, but may I mention here that the salient point of the Nancy Pelosi story, aside from the terrifying growth of fascism, is that a “weak-on-crime, pinko, anti-military, give-it-all-away” 84-year-old Democrat can say convincingly, “You should have seen the other guy.” He was likely in better shape than the lazy, wannabe fascist.

    Not to make light of the personal element.

    • hollywood says:

      The thoughts about evidence and proof to the contrary notwithstanding, doesn’t the attack on the Pelosi home and spouse demonstrate the need to indict Trump now? Surely, it is time.

  25. sick semper says:

    Never commented before, but after reading through this wide-ranging, spirited and intelligent (and civil) discussion I felt it was time to start — especially since Twitter is poised to be poisoned by some musky demon. I have been educated on a regular basis by Marcy’s insights and recently noticed that Rayne occasionally initiates an open thread — great for the uncategorizable thoughts that burble up into my brain from time to time. Concerning the current topic, what can be done to help people to realize what they are trading away when they do something online for a $5 gift card? PS – after I post this I will be visiting the “Support” button above – as they say in Vegas, tip your “server”!

  26. Bay State Librul says:

    Great discussion.

    FYI, on passports, I think the six month requirement to update is now eight months. We are planning a trip and our agent told us of the change.

  27. rattlemullet says:

    Rosalind is quite right in the description of and to vent about life with technology in the 21st century. The following comments are quite a collection of technology avoidance stories. I too try to avoid the biggest evils Amazon, use rarely, very rarely only when no other option is available. Bezo is a POS. The best MO is to use cash at a local store when possible, be damn the mileage. Face Book, never, I leave the to the fools, Twitter, never, I leave that to the idiots, and now that Musk owns it I would encourage everyone that does to terminate your accounts. Google is my biggest failing as I use gmail and searches. Apple, I own 2 iPhones and 2 Mac Book pros, no other electronic devises in the home, not even digital clocks and I shut all four down when I go to bed. We can all try our best to avoid the 21st century technology but it is difficult if not impossible. Everyone might as well assume that everywhere you go you are most likely being filmed or recorded in public and private settings. Every device you use is collecting data or being recorded that includes land lines and 3g. Good luck to all moving forward inn the 21st century with avoiding technology. The thing that will get us sooner than later is global warming. I fear for the young, their row will be an extremely tough one to hoe. Data collection really will not matter.

    • pdaly says:

      And then there’s the TOTO company’s goal of the “Wellness toilet,” an IoT toilet that some day will scan your body, analyze your body fluids, and text you health recommendations (including recipes, I believe).

      “The WELLNESS TOILET uses multiple cutting-edge sensing technologies to support consumers’ wellness by tracking and analyzing their mental and physical status. Each time the individual sits on the WELLNESS TOILET, it scans their body and its key outputs, then provides recommendations to improve their wellness.”

      Hmm. I wonder if it will be equally welcomed into the homes that already have the Ring doorbell and Alexa? Or will Madison Ave have to step in to create the demand?

  28. MT Reedør says:

    OT, but it seems like everywhere, even here, there is considerably less GOTV talk compared to 2020. This can’t be good.

    • Peterr says:

      That’s not the case in Georgia.

      From the Secretary of State’s office:

      Georgia voters continued to hit record breaking turnout on day ten of Early Voting. As of Thursday morning, Georgia continues to break records with 1,137,450 voters casting their ballot during Early Voting, with 118,489 showing up on Wednesday, October 26th. Wednesday’s total marks 22% above day ten of 2018 midterm Early Voting. Georgia has had record Early Voting turnout since the first day of Early Voting this year, surging to nearly twice the number on the first day of Early Voting in 2018. . . .

      *Someone* is doing some serious GOTV work, and Georgia Public Broadcasting has some data on who is getting turned out ahead of Nov 8:

      So far, early voting in Georgia has been marked by a higher share of older voters and Black voters than similar times in previous elections, as hotly contested races for governor and U.S. Senator have drawn unprecedented fundraising and interest in midterm elections here.

      Many of the voters who have participated so far are typical early voters who participate regularly in elections. As of Thursday, Oct. 27 roughly 92% of the 1,382,923 early voters who have cast ballots for this election also voted in the 2021 U.S. Senate runoffs; 93% voted in the 2020 presidential race and 83% voted in the 2018 midterms.

      Four out of five early voters cast ballots in all three elections, while roughly 4.5%, or 62,711 voters, did not vote in any of the three elections.

      Black voters make up roughly 29% of Georgia’s 7.8 million registered voters and 30.4% of the early vote so far.

      Democratic governor nominee Stacey Abrams in particular has made targeting newly-registered voters and those who don’t vote often an integral part of her campaign. Approximately 27% of these new voters are Black, 52% are women and 48% registered in 2022. . . .

  29. Doctor My Eyes says:

    Hey, thanks moderators for not publishing my last comment–would have embarrassed myself. I had not checked on that story since morning. I had heard the injuries weren’t serious. Good work all around.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yup, that sounds like they’re trying to walk a line between not being intimidated and the life-threatening events that actually took place that morning.

          As for Trump, MTG, Gohmert, and the GOP, when you light fuses again and again, it doesn’t limit your liability not to know exactly how many devices you’ve connected them to.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Seems a tad early to prognosticate about an 82 year-old’s full recovery from a fractured skull. It would be a fortunate outcome from an apparent murder attempt.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Yeah, if anyone is still reading this. I have become increasingly enraged through the day at the initial reporting. An 82-year-old man is hit in the head with a hammer, and the first “news” is that he’s expected to make a full recovery. And by the way, that’s not the only place he was hit. And, oh yeah forgot to mention–the skull is fractured. Incidentally, HE’S UNDERGOING BRAIN SURGERY!!!!!!

          They may as well have said, “Don’t worry, it’s only a Democrat.”

          Really egregious in that and many myriad ways. This is how fascism looks. Is this really what they want?! Is this what the Washington Post wants? Democrats hammered to death in their homes? I already know the NYT would no be little troubled by such a state of affairs.

          I’m not going to go on, but the way this is being covered and talked about is as troubling as anything in the last year. And that, my friends, is fucking saying something.

        • bmaz says:

          By the way, the current undercurrent in MAGA world is that it was a gay hookup by Pelosi that went bad. Which is gross and ludicrous since the defendant was shouting “where’s Nancy”.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          You read it so I don’t have to. Yeah, ridiculous. The point of all their stories is not believability, it’s poking at prejudices to stir up feelings so that rational thought shuts down. And it works.

  30. J R in WV says:

    We live in a very rural neighborhood. The nearest store is Dollar General, which is surprisingly useful if we run out of Dog Kibble — but even that is a 30 minute errand. Home Depot is more like a 90 minute errand, even if I know exactly where the item I need is located in the store. Lowe’s is the other end of the shopping center.

    Where I’m going is that we do order things from Amazon and the other innertubes. Last week after Wife selected and I ordered a hall tree coat rack (some assembly required!) it was delivered on schedule, by UPS, while we were in town for her PT appointment.

    Evidently our two large dogs found the box laying wherever the UPS guy let it, and it was enticing beyond all resistance! So they shredded it, leaving all the bits and pieces strewn among the fallen leaves. I dither about ordering another one, hoping the dogs don’t love the next box as much. I gathered all the pieces I could, have no idea if it’s everything.

    Life in the forest.

    Also, we are surrounded by large stone cliffs and boulders, which inhibit electromagnetic waves. So no cell service, ever. Little FM radio service, no TV signal. Neighbor (and great friends!) on a ridge top 100 yards up and west has graciously connected our house to his internet network fed by a sat dish. That’s how I can do this posting, and keep informed.

    I am still convinced there will be a blue wave this election cycle — don’t disturb my fantasy, which I need to keep my composure.

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, I would order from Amazon too if I were you! Home Depot is a hassle in person, so when we needed a new garbage disposal recently, we ordered off of Amazon. It arrived on our doorstep the next day, and was slightly cheaper to boot.

      Also, you could get a satellite phone, but they are pretty expensive to use.

  31. earthworm says:

    Re Musk and Twitter:
    Politico has taken a rightward editorial position since recent change in ownership, I understand.

    What if anything is the EW position on Politico opinion piece, Fiona Hill’s “Elon Musk carrying Putin’s message”?

    I find myself agreeing with Hill’s paralleling Kaiser/Belgium, Mussolini/N Africa, and Hitler/Sudetenland aggression with respect to Ukraine and Putin.

  32. Savage Librarian says:

    This morning I went outside and found the cats cowering under the car (which is so old it still has roll-up windows.)They scurried out which alerted my attention to something sauntering across the driveway. First one, then another and another and another, until I realized it was a colony of 30+ American White Ibises.

    They foraged in my yard for a minute or so and moved on. They were gone by the time I got a camera. I wonder if my neighbors will believe me when I tell them what happened. After all, this is an urban area. I wonder if any of them have Doorbell Surveillance Cameras.

    Last week, a few American Crows lingered on the wires above my neighbors’ yard. I think they probably know a lot more about the neighborhood than me.

    I’m fine not having a TV or a computer connected to the internet. No robots. No devices to talk with or to, with the exception of a cell phone which can be a personal hot spot. If I want to print something out, I can send it to the library and print it out there.

    Delivery services are very helpful though, especially for people with health or mobility issues. Growing old is not for sissies, as they say. I do have some harrowing, life threatening tales I could share where it might have been helpful to have had some kind of device for surveillance. But it wouldn’t be smart to share that on a blog.

    “American White Ibises”

    “5 Amazing Crow Facts – Einsteins of the Bird World”

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      SL, I love how you describe your cats’ reaction to the Ibis invasion. Our cats don’t go outside, but they act tough when birdies show up through the window … until the crows come in. Cats have an instinct for self-preservation when it comes to scarily enormous and threatening birds that might as well be dinosaurs.

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