When you walk out the door in the morning, get in your pickup, and go through a day of farm-related and personal activities, perhaps including several internet searches for farm supplies, hunting gear, or a cute cat video, you likely give no thought that the cell phone in your pocket or on your dash may be tracking everything and recording it.
Stop at a convenience store for a cold one? Store name, time are recorded. Pop by the doctor’s office for a flu shot? Ditto. Drive through Mickey D’s for fries and a soft drink? Your phone knows all, keeps all. And even though you may have turned off Location History on your phone, whether Apple or Android, Great God Google may continue tracking you anyhow, storing your travels and internet searches, all dated/time-stamped. In some instances, latitude/longitude are recorded.
All your data then become part of the kazillion bits and bytes that Google servers collect and analyze each day, the better to sell ads or its myriad of other services.
If you’ve never done it, and are curious about all the info Google has about your web searches and viewing activity for months/years, instructions for access can be found at https://bit.ly/2P96QSD. Prepare to be amazed at all the stuff that’s there. Additionally, there is information about finding and deleting your location history for both Apple and Android cell phones. There are options for “pausing” the various things that are being tracked, although one can but wonder if it’s all still being recorded and hidden from view. In the digital universe, who knows?
But all that’s child’s play to what a Bellevue, Wash., outfit has in the works. We all know Google and other services can give us views of almost any place on earth, often in rotatable 3-D. Even so, those images are static and can be months or years old, depending on when they were last updated.
A Bellevue, Wash., company plans to employ large numbers of small satellites that can provide real-time video of almost any place on earth. Which means whenever you set foot outside it’s “smile, you’re on camera,” and you can be tracked as you go.
Unlike static images, generated by a small number of orbiting satellites, EarthNow plans to employ large numbers of small satellites that can provide real-time video of almost any place on earth. Which means whenever you set foot outside it’s “smile, you’re on camera,” and you can be tracked as you go.
The company cites the more benevolent uses of such a system: evaluating the health of crops, detecting forest fires when they start, tracking whale migrations, catching illegal fishing ships in the act, etc. One can extrapolate unmentioned uses, such as police keeping an eye on suspects or other government agencies tracking people for various reasons.
But all this is just an extension of the increasingly sophisticated technology that makes it possible to for some entity, business or government, to monitor almost everything you do. Already you’re already being watched by surveillance systems in almost any retail establishment you enter, from the corner convenience store to fast food joints to big box stores. In New York City’s Manhattan, it’s estimated there are more than 20,000 officially run closed circuit TV cameras watching, watching. In the city of London, more than 200,000. In any major city, here or abroad, you can bet you’re on camera multiple times daily, and chances are it never crosses your mind.
Do we care? Maybe. Maybe not. More likely, we just shrug and accept it as yet another step toward making personal privacy obsolete.