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Online Privacy: Surveillance, Facial Recognition And What Facebook and Google Do With Our Stuff

In The Online Privacy World, Privacy is Getting Harder and Harder to Come By.

If online privacy is something you care about—whether that be just for yourself, or for your friends and family—I have some information to share with you about some great sites we love to visit.


It's a creepy word yes, but I’m going to be cut and dry with this: we’re being watched, everywhere. By now, most people know that just about everything they do online can be tracked, recorded and archived. We may realize that we're being watched on the street,  in restaurants and practically everywhere we go. Incredible, right? But it's even more concerning . . .

Is It Time to Say “No Paparazzi Please”?

Perhaps if you don't want to be tracked by your pictures.  

Tracking can be done through Facial Recognition software and it's no longer a futuristic concept. Your identity, that gorgeous, beautiful face that belongs only to you--is also being archived on servers.  And it's not just your face, it's your face and everywhere it goes and every one it's with and any comments you happen to make along with that shot--it all has the potential to be saved.

I wrote about how Facebook's tagging feature maybe selling you out, and now ALL new iPhones have the option to be used with facial recognition to unlock your phone. What’s even scarier…"Apple’s facial recognition technique captures more data points than a fingerprint scan.” That’s a lot of very personal data that could become VERY public.

We make decisions every day about trading convenience for privacy.  Before you opt in, consider what this information exchange could mean to your future--to Our futures.  Look what's happening in China!  It started with Facial Recognition.  China has take the lead in facial recognition software and has applied to every street, every subway station, every public building, everywhere.  And their proudly adding more everyday. And they are bragging about what they do with the information they see and know about every Chinese citizen. They use the information to determine who get priviledges and who gets punished.  Yep.

It's amazing but true.  And I don't want it to happen to you. I don't want it to happen to us or the U.S.

Those Surveillance Cameras...they're everywhere . .

At restaurants, stores, markets, the neighbors front door, your front door-heck all over your house--not to mention… street cameras. They capture everything. It's a great idea for catching criminals but not so great for the rest of us.

Especially when the surveillance connects  to the Facial Recognition software that Facebook and other companies are accessing.

I was just boarding Delta Airlines and noticed that today-now, I could opt for Facial recognition boarding.  I can walk up to a camera and now, they can scan my face and connect my face to my boarding pass, which has all my informatin connected to it: Name, birthday, credit card, address, e v e r y t h i n g all airlines need to know about all passegers.  Now it's connected to my face.

I know, yes the Deptartment of Homeland Secrutiy gets that infomation anyway.  My face and passport are scanned everytime I come back from abroad and hit US soil.  But that's differernt.  That's not a publicly traded easily hacked airline.

I'm hoping most of us care about our privacy enough to opt out.

 But did you know that every single word we type or write on an online server including deleted drafts and words we write but then quickly—erase are saved and archived. They are.  And it's happening  Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  But Who's Looking??

Facebook and What You Don't Post

In 2013 a Facebook intern and employee did a paper for Carnegie Melon on how Facebook asked them to review posts that were created but not published. Apparently, they wanted to have this information in an effort to figure out why people wrote and decided not to post. The term used was "thought better of". Turns out that men, more often than women, decide not to post a comment after thinking about it.  And younger users decided not to hit post way more than older people.  So what does that say about older female Facebook users? But, here's the real point of this study and what it tells us. What you TYPE ON FACEBOOK stays ON Facebook's Servers. 

"The code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed--even if you decide not to publish it.” You can read the detail in an article in Slate (see link in references). And here's the thing, it's not like Facebook is trying to deceive anyone. It's just that most of us don't make it a point to actually read the all-too-long and way too lawyer-esque Privacy Policies. Facebook’s Privacy Policy says this: “We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. We also collect information about how you use our Services, such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.” Did you catch “create or share”?

So now the question is,  "What exactly is happening to the posts that you write or "create" but delete and don't "share"?

Honestly, I don't know how long it's saved or exactly how it's archived, but what I do know is that I want everyone to be aware that what they type and delete, isn't actually deleted. Fortunately, what you post and what you write before you post is under your control.

We Do Know, Google Vault Saves Emails, Deleted Drafts and Deleted words for up to 100 years!

Yes.  It's true, we have video and story on how Google Vault, the Email storage program  that millions of companies use record, save and archive every email, chat etc and can save them for up to 100 years.

These chats, e-mails, deleted drafts and deleted words can be seen by your IT administrator or the owner of the Google Vault account and anyone that owner assigns to administrate the Google Vault.  So that could be very creepy, but unfortunately very legal.

Paul Stephens Director of Policy and Advocacy at The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse,  was not aware of the detail of the the Gmail's Google Vault functionality, but he offered this reminder:

"Almost anything an employee does on an office computer can be monitored. Courts often have found that when employees are using an employer's equipment, their expectation of privacy is limited."

Take Control of What Get's Saved

So it's up to us to protect our email privacy by watching by being careful as we compose emails and other notes. We offer some email hacks in the story and a video where we take you into the vault so you can see what an employer can see.

Here Are Some Tips To Protect Surveillence Privacy:

  1. Instead of typing your drafts of posts on servers, try writing your thoughts on a piece of paper or on a word document so that at least "draft" data cannot be accessed.
  2. Keep all of your social accounts on PRIVATE and make sure tagging features are disabled. Make sure your kids aren’t posting publicly on social media. Children's accounts should be private and password protected.
  3. Print or personally share photos instead of posting them online.
  4. Keep it simple - Facial Recognition and fingerprints might be cool shortcuts, but they aren’t really necessary! It’ll only take you a couple more seconds every day to type your password instead of programming your personal information into your device to unlock it.  Block that camera with our specially designed Creepblockers made to cover the selfie cam on all new iPhones!

 cover facial recognition camera iPhoner

5. Be extra stealth-- when it comes to privacy-use these on all computer, laptop and even TV cameras. Creepblockers. Your privacy, and your childs privacy is worth it! They're simple, stylish, and really effective. 

best camera cover


Think About What This Privacy Invasion Could Mean To You and Your Family

I remember watching a particular police-state episode of The Twilight Zone in the 80’s. It grabbed my heart, it was so sad.  So Chilling. It paints a picture of a place we're not too far away from today.

It foretold of a time when "Facial Recongnition Imprinting" was the standard way all citizens were "controlled" for bad behavior. Drones were everywhere and if you said or did anything that wasn't "correct," you'd get this sort of technological Scarlet R that meant you’d be ignored or deemed invisible. When The Invisible Man as this segment was titled, talked to anyone, he was ignored.  By Law. 

Finally he got the Scarlet R off his forehead and this woman who was also banished tries to talk to him--and he breaks down.  In come the surviellance Drones.  Instantly he is found by the surveillence cameras.  It's almost exactly what's happening in China today.  This Twilight Zone character was first exiled for not having compassion.  But now the government was about to arrest him again for being too compassionate.


Can you imagine?  Well--China can.  And DOES.  They have "Social Scores" which are used for "regulatory purposes" for all their citizens, mainly dependent on surveillance and Facial Recognition.

What Does All this Hold for the Future of Our Children?

Hard to Know. We're in uncharted territory when it comes to kids growing up and entering adulthood with an entire dossier of their life digitally collected and potentially exposed.  Between Gmail recording every typed (or erased) word, Facebook saving all posts and doing who knows what with posts that are written, but not published, and the ability to instantly see where they've been and who they are with via facial recognition. Now add to that all the information that's saved online, Report Cards, Little League stats, family photos and events shared on parents social pages, etc. So, so much information. Missteps, rites of passage,  potentially damaging words said to a child or about them or by them in an online server environment, all have the potential to be recorded, saved and archived and then reviewed, Of course, there are laws designed to protect kids and adults from dissemination of this information.  But, what if those laws change?  What if those laws are broken? For now, we just need to be aware and exercise a few privacy options we have online.

For more tips, check out How to Keep a Webcam and Microphone From Spying and iPhone Privacy Tips.

As always, I hope you found this article interesting and helpful.  We are so very interested in hearing what you think about this topic.  Please let us know and Be Well!



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