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10 Examples Of How “Big Brother” Is Steadily Creeping Into Our Daily Lives


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10 Examples Of How “Big Brother” Is Steadily Creeping Into Our Daily Lives



Virtually everything that you do is being watched. Do you drive a car? Do you watch television? Do you use a cell phone? As you do any of those things, information about you is being recorded and tracked. We live at a time when personal privacy is dying. And it is not just governments that are doing this. In fact, sometimes private companies are the biggest offenders. It turns out that gathering information about all of us is very, very profitable. And both government entities and private companies are going to continue to push the envelope when it comes to high tech surveillance until people start objecting to what they are trying to do. If we continue down the path that we are currently on, it is inevitable that we will end up living in an extremely restrictive “Big Brother” police state where basically everything that we do is very closely watched, monitored, tracked and controlled. And such a day may be much closer than you think. The following are 10 examples of how “Big Brother” is steadily creeping into our daily lives… #1 Our cars are rapidly being transformed into high tech “Big Brother” surveillance devices. In fact, a push is being made to require all new vehicles to include very sophisticated black box recorders...

Big Brother Surveillance – It Is Not Just For Governments Anymore


Traditionally, when we have thought of “Big Brother technology” we have thought of government oppression. But these days, it isn’t just governments that are using creepy new technologies to spy on all of us. As you will see below, “Big Brother surveillance” has become very big business. In the information age, knowledge is power, and big corporations seem to have an endless thirst for even more of it. So it isn’t just governments that are completely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. Corporations have discovered that they can use Orwellian technologies to make lots of money, and this is likely only going to get worse in the years ahead. Below, I have shared a few examples of this phenomenon…

Private Companies Are Using Automated License Plate Readers To Spy On You

Did you know that people that work for private companies are driving around scanning our license plates?

I never knew this until I came across an article about it the other day. The following is an excerpt from that article…

Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any ­industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.

An automated reader attached to the spotter car takes a picture of every license plate it passes and sends it to a company in Texas that already has more than 1.8 billion plate scans from vehicles across the country.

These scans mean big money for Sousa — typically $200 to $400 every time the spotter finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default — so he runs his spotter around the clock, typically adding 8,000 plate scans to the database in Texas each day.

Your Cell Phone Is Spying On You

If you carry a cell phone around with you, then you are willingly offering up a whole host of information about yourself. This is something that I have written about previously, but I never realized that some private companies are now setting up sensors in businesses to purposely capture information from the cell phones of anyone that walks in. Yes, this is actually happening according to the Wall Street Journal…

Fan Zhang, the owner of Happy Child, a trendy Asian restaurant in downtown Toronto, knows that 170 of his customers went clubbing in November. He knows that 250 went to the gym that month, and that 216 came in from Yorkville, an upscale neighborhood.

And he gleans this information without his customers’ knowledge, or ever asking them a single question.

Mr. Zhang is a client of Turnstyle Solutions Inc., a year-old local company that has placed sensors in about 200 businesses within a 0.7 mile radius in downtown Toronto to track shoppers as they move in the city.

Entire “Big Brother Housing Developments” Are Now Being Designed

Would you live in a housing development with a sophisticated “video surveillance program” and that uses automated license plate scanners to monitor everyone who comes and goes from the community?

In a country that is becoming increasingly obsessed with “security”, these new kinds of housing developments are surely going to be quite popular. The following is an excerpt from an article about one of these communities that is being built in California…

A new, scenic development surrounded by winding waterways is billed as a safe haven.

Only four bridges lead in and out of the area with security checkpoints and a fiberoptic video surveillance program. Every license plate scanned on those roads will be cross-checked with a DMV database for stolen cars.

The first homes are already going up at River Islands, and the people who move in can expect to be part of a new era in policing.

Disney Implements The “MagicBand” Tracking Device

Would you wear an RFID tracking device that allows you to buy stuff and that monitors you wherever you go?

Well, Disney actually wants their customers to willingly use this technology.

They are calling it the “MagicBand”, and perhaps you have already watched one of the new Disney commercials about it. You can see what Disney has to say about “MagicBand” right here.

In the youtube video posted above, activist Mark Dice discusses this troubling move by Disney…

Our “Smart Televisions” Are Spying On Us

How would you feel if I told you that your expensive new television is actually spying on you?

You probably would not be too excited to hear that.

Well, depending on the actual brand, this is really happening. In fact, one brand of television actually sends information about every button that press on your remote back to corporate headquarters…

An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family’s privacy.

He began investigating the £400 LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him ‘targeted’ adverts — for cars, and Knorr stock cubes — based on programmes he’d just been watching.

Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV — which connects to the internet — was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his set.

He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG’s corporate headquarters in South Korea.

Data Mining – Your Personal Information Is Big Business

There are huge companies that most people have never even heard of that do nothing but buy and sell our personal information. The collection of this personal information is called “data mining”, and it is extremely profitable.

In fact, there is one company called Acxiom that made a profit of more than 77 million dollars in one recent year by collecting and selling info about all of us.

In case you were wondering, yes, Acxiom almost certainly has a profile on you too…

The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.

As long as these technologies are legal and businesses can make money this way, they are going to keep doing it.

So even if we stopped the rapid expansion of “Big Brother surveillance” by the governments of the world, the reality is that private corporations are going to keep pushing the envelope.

We live in a world that is rapidly changing, and unless a miracle happens we soon will not have very much privacy left at all.



A vast hidden surveillance network runs across America, powered by the repo industry


Few notice the “spotter car” from Manny Sousa’s repo company as it scours Massachusetts parking lots, looking for vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loans. Sousa’s unmarked car is part of a technological revolution that goes well beyond the repossession business, transforming any industry that wants to check on the whereabouts of ordinary people.

An automated reader attached to the spotter car takes a picture of every license plate it passes and sends it to a company in Texas that already has more than 1.8 billion plate scans from vehicles across the country.

These scans mean big money for Sousa — typically $200 to $400 every time the spotter finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default — so he runs his spotter around the clock, typically adding 8,000 plate scans to the database in Texas each day.

“Honestly, we’ve found random apartment complexes and shopping ­plazas that are sweet spots” where the company can impound multiple vehicles, explains Sousa, the president of New England Associates Inc. in Bridgewater.

But the most significant impact of Sousa’s business is far bigger than locating cars whose owners have defaulted on loans: It is the growing database of snapshots showing where Americans were at specific times, information that everyone from private detectives to insurers are willing to pay for.

While public debate about the license reading technology has centered on how police should use it, business has eagerly adopted the $10,000 to $17,000 scanners with remarkably few limits.

At least 10 repossession companies in Massachusetts say they mount the scanners on spotter cars or tow trucks, and Digital Recognition Network of Fort Worth, Texas, claims to collect plate scans of 40 percent of all US vehicles annually.

Today, a legislative committee in Boston is scheduled to hold a hearing on a bill that would ban most uses of license plate readers, including the vehicle repossession business, making exceptions only for law enforcement, toll collection, and parking regulation.

“We have technology rapidly moving ahead in terms of its ability to gather information about people,” said state Representative Jonathan Hecht, a Watertown Democrat who filed the bill along with state Senator Cynthia Creem of Newton, Brookline and Wellesley. “We need to have a conversation about how to balance legitimate uses of this technology with protecting people’s legitimate expectation of privacy.”

But Digital Recognition and other so-called “data brokers” who collect plate scans are fighting Hecht and Creem’s bill, arguing that repo agents are not invading privacy when they scan a license plate, which is available for all to see. The data brokers do not disclose the owner of the plates, they point out, though customers such as banks, insurers, and private investigators have ready access to that information.

Brian Shockley — vice president of marketing at Vigilant, corporate parent of Digital Recognition — plans to warn legislators that Massachusetts risks getting left behind in the use of a new tool that helps fight crime.

“I fear that the proposed legislation would essentially create a safe haven in the Commonwealth for certain types of criminals, it would reduce the safety of our officers, and it could ultimately result in lives lost,” Shockley is scheduled to say in testimony prepared for the hearing before the Joint Transportation Committee.

License plate scanning technology has been around for decades — the British police originally adopted it in the 1970s to track the Irish Republican Army members — but it only came into wide use in the last decade as cheaper but highly effective models became available. These scanners use high-speed cameras and optical character recognition technology to capture up to 1,800 plates per minute, even at high rates of speed and in difficult driving conditions. The scanner also records the date, time, and GPS location of each scan.


Since 2008, more than 60 Massachusetts police departments have started using scanners to track down drivers with unpaid tickets, no insurance, or driving stolen vehicles, but the trend has raised concern about potential privacy invasions. In December, Boston police suspended their use of plate scanners altogether after a Globe inves­tigation reported questionable data management, including the accidental public release of more than 69,000 license plate numbers that had been scanned over six months.

Meanwhile, private companies were quietly and rapidly finding ways to profit from much larger databases with little public discussion. Digital Recognition Network, with the help of about 400 repossession companies across the United States, has increased the number of ­license scans in its database tenfold since September 2010, and the firm continues to add another 70 million scans per month, according to company disclosures. Digital Recognition’s top rival, Illinois-based MVTRAC, has not disclosed the size of its database, but claimed in a 2012 Wall Street Journal interview to have scans of “a large majority” of vehicles registered in the United States.

Unlike law enforcement agencies, which often have policies to purge their computers of license records after a certain period of time, the data brokers are under no such obligation, meaning their databases grow and gain value over time as a way to track individuals’ movements and whereabouts.

Massachusetts private investigator Jay Groob said he uses the license plate database kept by a third data broker, TLOxp, paying $25 for a comprehensive report from the Florida-based company’s “very impressive” database of a billion-plus scans.

“It helps generate other leads,” said Groob, president of American Investigative Services in Brookline. “If a vehicle has been missing, or you need to locate a person, this gives us another locus to investigate.”

Groob said he would use the database to track a missing person or conduct background investigations for child custody or marital infidelity litigation. Groob said he “absolutely” foresees vehicle location data becoming part of private investigators’ standard toolkit.

Chris Metaxas, chief executive of Digital Recognition, has promoted his database as a useful tool for anyone else who has to confirm a person’s real address “because most of the time people are near where their cars are.” He told the Globe that his database is already helping the auto insurance industry cut down on fraud in which where applicants falsely claim to live in a place where insurance rates are lower.

“Some people have a condo in Florida but actually live in New York ten months out of year,” said Metaxas. “Insurers need help to keep this kind of fraud under control.”

But the main commercial use of license plate scanners remains the auto finance and auto repossession industries, two professions that work closely together to track down people who default on their loans. Digital Recognition lists Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., HSBC Holdings, and Citibank among its clients, while MVTRAC boasts that it serves 70 percent of the auto finance industry.


Liran Cohen — owner of Massachusetts Recovery Bureau, a repossession company in Lynn — said most banks he works with now require repossession contractors to use license plate readers because it is so much easier to find vehicles eligible for repossession.

“The banks want it,” said Cohen, who mounted his license scanner on an unmarked tow truck. “All of them make a big deal out of it, since it gives them so much value.”

But the use of scanners has grown so fast that there has been little discussion of what limits, if any, to place on repossession agents as they trawl for vehicles to impound. A number of such companies contacted by the Globe confirmed that they often send their spotter cars to commercial lots, such as shopping mall parking lots, because those tend to be hotspots for vehicles to repossess.

In fact, on its website Digital Recognition described what it calls good “target environments” for repossession agents, including “malls, movie ­theaters, sporting events, and numerous other locations.” In marketing materials, the firm has indicated that it suggests routes for repossession companies that focus on workplaces and commercial lots during the day and apartment complexes and residential areas at night.

However, several commercial property owners contacted by the Globe said they had no idea repossession agents could be in their parking lots, scanning license plates and feeding them into a national database. Some said they would consider the practice trespassing.

“We’re unaware that this is happening, and we’re reaching out to our security teams and law enforcement contacts to get a better handle on it,” said Les Morris, spokesman for Simon Property Group, which owns Copley Place mall in Boston and South Shore Plaza in Braintree.

“If we saw scanning like this being done, we would throw them out,” said Issie Shait, senior vice president of property management at New England Development, which owns the CambridgeSide Galleria and Bunker Hill Mall District.

Also: White House in no mood to debate big data and privacy at MIT

Two repossession companies also told BetaBoston that they focus on low-income housing developments, since a significant number of residents are delinquent on their car payments.

“This is just another example of stereotyping,” responded Cambridge Housing Authority deputy executive director Michael Johnston, who had never heard of plate scanners before. “But our lots are open, and we don’t have any gated communities in our system, so I don’t know how to prevent it.”

But the national database companies claim they have no say in where their affiliates scan plates, whether on private property or along public streets. They said repossession agents and tow truck companies are all private contractors who make their own decisions.

“We have nothing to do with the actual data collection process,” Digital Recognition’s Metaxas said in an interview. “We provide technology to ­repossession professionals.”

The burgeoning private databases of license plates may ultimately be a boon to law, as well, giving them access to a trove of license plates that many are not allowed to keep themselves, because of data-purging requirements. Hecht and Creem’s bill would require law enforcement statewide to purge its license plate data after 48 hours.

Digital Recognition already provides its entire data pool to more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, free of charge for most searches. The Massachusetts State Police is a registered subscriber, as are the Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, and Quincy police departments. Even Boston College and Brandeis police have access to the firm’s entire scan database.

License plate reader companies have defeated proposals similar to the one before the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee, and they sued the state of Utah after it enacted a ban on commercial use of license plate scanning. In its filing, Digital Recognitionasserts that its field agents have a First Amendment right to collect pictures of license plates in public places.

But privacy advocates say the databases are far more intrusive than the data brokers admit, arguing that private businesses can easily translate anonymous-sounding license plate numbers into owners’ names just by obtaining information from states’ motor vehicle registries. In Massachusetts, for example, private investigators can get access to the Registry of Motor Vehicles directly, and insurance companies and banks may already know the plate number for a given individual.

“Right now, it’s the wild West in terms of how companies can collect, process, and sell this kind of data,” says Kade Crockford of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. “The best legal minds, best public policy thinkers, and ordinary people whose lives are affected need to sit down and think of meaningful ways we can regulate it.”


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We don't trust each other these days , with Surveillance all around we are nearing Vendetta

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