“It is with knowledge of the human being, his tendencies, his desires, his needs, his psychic mechanisms, his automatism as well as knowledge of social psychology and analytical psychology that propaganda refines its techniques.”
– Propagandes, Jacques Ellul
What is privacy, and why should we care? More and more, people are comfortable living their lives quite publicly. Social media gave us an avenue to connect with old friends and share, which I happily embraced by posting many pictures of my cats, my kid, and my cooking.
I’ve been on Facebook for ten years now, and sometimes cringe at the “On This Day” memories. No longer do the actions of the present disappear into the annals of time. Our day-to-day banalities are digitized and exist forever.
I now know details about people I haven’t seen in years, sometimes quite intimately. And while I love the feeling of community and easy access that technology provides, I find it unsettling that anything I’ve done in the last 15 years can be digitally “remembered” fairly quickly, and by a host of stakeholders. My phone company, my phone manufacturer, any app I’ve downloaded has varying degrees of access, and the National Security Agency all know where I go, who I speak to, the messages I send, and the schedule I keep on my calendar.
In the early 90’s, my only worry was about my jealous boyfriend looking at my beeper. When I got my first cell phone in 1994, carrying it with me was just a night thing for safety. Today’s tech is sophisticated and collects information about my life that is fueling a multi-billion dollar data industry. Healthcare insurance companies collecting data off the Activity Tracker on my Apple watch are using it to inform how they will treat me as a customer. My 90’s-era boyfriend stalking me drove me nuts but at least he couldn’t refuse to cover my pre-existing condition because I missed three fitness classes last week.
Devices and apps that geo-locate us have made our lives more convenient in myriad ways which seem innocent enough. But how these conveniences affect us and what we are trading in return for it are another matter entirely. Neither average Americans or Congress are prepared to understand how AI will change us in the years ahead. It has already changed us profoundly.
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an arm of the military that develops emerging technologies, has been psychologically profiling Americans and developing specific communication designed to infiltrate and disseminate propaganda to influence public opinion.
With the passage of the Patriot Act and it’s unholy follow-ups, the Protect America Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, both the Bush and later, the Obama administration, widely expanded government power.
Take the ironically named Protect America Act, for example. This act was enacted to protect phone companies from being sued by Americans for violating our privacy. All the major phone companies had been secretly giving the Bush administration access to ALL our phone records thousands of times a day, dating back retroactively to 1983. The name of the act itself is a clever piece of propaganda.
Due to the Patriot Act, warrants are no longer necessary for searches. Our 4th Amendment protections are vital to preventing police and military over-reach, yet when they were axed the public bought the yankee-doodle-yackey about needing to capture evil-doers. Today, anyone accused or suspected of being a terrorist can be thrown into jail indefinitely without a trial or due process.
The FBI is constantly introducing new language and expanding their definition of who or what is potentially a threat. In the wake of many mass shootings in the U.S., recent bulletins by the FBI link mental illness with so-called conspiracy theorists as dangerous.
Think about this: because of all the information the NSA has via the PRISM program and others, there are many ways Americans can be targeted via their data. It is not hard to conceive that Google searches and YouTube videos watched will be an easy way to target potentially “dangerous radicals” for police or intelligence agencies to preemptively question or arrest in order to mitigate a future crime. If you knew that your curiosity rabbit-hole at 2AM might win you a knock at the door by the FBI you might think twice about clicking or even searching for certain topics. This is how censorship works. This is how the government could create enough paranoia so we simply police ourselves.
A New York Times journalist reported on the Bush administration and NSA’s widespread spying and data collection of U.S. citizens back in December of 2005. The story was initially due to print in September of 2005, but the Times suppressed the article at the behest of the Bush administration because of the upcoming election. By December, it was clear the story was about to break elsewhere so NYT went ahead and ran it: Bush had already won his second term.
Once the story was out, the propaganda machine began its cleanup. The public was fed the usual rhetoric about patriotism, safety and country at the same time the Protect America Act was being drawn up. It served not only to give AT&T and the rest of their corporate comrades immunity from civil action but also to continue the very spying program in question.
Shady business got even shadier when the Inspector General’s investigation into NSA mass surveillance produced a report that was conducted as a panacea for public outrage. And rather than bore us with the usual redacted glory reserved for declassified documents, they made up a second, shall we say… scrubbed report and passed it off to the public as the real one.
So today, I give you this requiem, an homage if you will… let’s have a toast to privacy lost, and remember fondly Mr. Bush in his ten-gallon hat at the Crawford Ranch, and Mr. Obama whose beautiful speeches I sorely miss, even if he was a two-timing son-of-a-gun who sold us out with a smile.
Here are five examples of privacy rights you probably weren’t even aware you’ve lost. Fallen by the wayside, quietly, swiftly… May they forever rest in peace.
Privacy of your trash via the Waste Watch Driver Training Program, active in 170+ U.S. cities and towns.
Privacy of your DNA: if you were born after 1963 in Massachusetts; 1970 or so elsewhere in the U.S. your DNA is taken by the hospital and is now stored in various government facilities from state to state. The states claim a right to your genetic material and use it for their research.
Privacy of transaction:welcome to the darknet, aka Echelon, PRISM, and [X]Keyscore. I’m not sure I could say this better than Andreas Antonopoulos did in his TED presentation: …“The darknet is operated by intelligence agencies because they are on a daily basis committing massive crimes against human rights, they are orchestrating a totalitarian financial surveillance network that monitors everybody’s transactions and as a result everybody’s location, everybody’s purchasing preferences, everybody’s political preferences and what kind of porn you watch, because all of that is tied to your financial life. Because everything is tied to your financial life. This system of totalitarian financial surveillance is the darknet. They don’t fear the darknet, they just don’t want us to have one.”
Privacy of location: I touched on this already but it still bears emphasis. Even if you turn your GPS off, your smartphone is a personal tracking device that is constantly triangulating your location via cell towers and WiFi, then sharing your information thousands of times a day with the NSA and likely a host of third-party companies.
Privacy of thought: Cue the Orwellian nightmare: researchers at New York University and University of California have created a mind-reading machine. Similar to facial recognition, it’s a software that reconstructs images of a person’s mind using brain scans. We will have commercially available mind-reading technology, presumably to help disabled people type. Google did try to sneak an entire “smart city” facial cam recognition system by the residents of Toronto without public review but hey, I’m sure there’s no reason to worry about anyone using it for nefarious purposes, right?
Our inaugural issue! My partner Annmarie LaFauci and I actually put this to bed late last month, so excuse the delay in debuting it here. This is our first go at putting a project like this together and most of the work fell on just a few passionate – but unpaid hands.
Launching a magazine and getting our bi-weekly show off the ground has been a labor of love, and I still work two side hustles in order to dedicate myself to writing independent content that I find meaningful and interesting.
Many teachable moments were had in the creation of DreamRose Lifestyle, but luckily we love to learn and my partner has incredible tenacity so the setbacks we experienced were instructive.
My contributions include the cover story on Boston-based pop group X’s & O’s, an investigative piece called A Requiem for Privacy Lost, and the first-ever Luxury on a Leash column, a concept I came up with while on vacation back in August.
I assisted with editing contributor content, but I’ll let readers guess which articles I meddled with. Those who know my phrasing style will probably spot it, but my aim when editing others’ work is to maintain their voice as authentically as possible.
Overall, this was a BIG opportunity for me to stretch as a writer, editor and journalist. Thanks to ALL the contributors, stylists, photographers and bloggers who helped this issue come to life. Everyone that is part of this magazine is a proud Bostonian!
I hope you enjoy it and please, send me your feedback or ideas on topics you’d like to see covered next quarter either in the comment section below or via FB message to my Jennifer Psallidas, Writer page.
Dear readers: $1.48 Trillion in spending for the Pentagon has been approved by the House.
If you can look at that list of 219 Democrats without the urge to vomit or violently punch someone in the throat (that was my reaction), then guess what? Your programming is complete, congratulations. You have been fully lobotomized.
The party of the downtrodden has overwhelmingly decided to support a lying dictator (no matter what they might say on TV) AND this psychotic, murderous Pentagon with their ever-growing need for more weapons, more destruction, and more support for the folks that ARE MISSING $22 TRILLION ALREADY. Think about that.
The only thing the Pentagon doesn’t want more of is agency-wide accountability. The last audit was two years ago now, one of only 3 in the last 25 years. The missing $22 Trillion that the Pentagon just can’t account for seems blackly comical, except it’s not.
We keep throwing our hard-earned cash at them without batting a single eyelash. THIS is the very definition of a dystopian reality we’re living in now, bitches. Buck up, and pay yer’ taxes, fight our boogeymen, and don’t protest. The CEO of Lockheed Martin needs a new yacht.
Oh, how I long for September 10th… Remember that day? When Rumsfeld announced a “war” on the Pentagon’s budget because they were missing $2 Trillion? How cute. That number has now usurped the GDP of India.
Of course the very next day the Pentagon was hit by a plane, so we forgot all about that silliness and immediately pumped more dollars than ever into military budgeting. Interestingly tactical, that a Boeing 757 (that no one has footage of anywhere) should hit the Pentagon’s accounting department. Those bean counters never knew what hit them. Sorry guys, but we’re not doing that anymore…
Personally, I find it a little weird that the Pentagon hit doesn’t look like the WTC tower. I know we have two different angles of impact and there are likely other factors involved but this doesn’t look like a plane hit the building at all. A Boeing 757 has a wingspan of over 120 feet wide. More pics of the aerial damage are available at https://publicintelligence.net/911-pentagon-damage-high-resolution-aerial-photos/.
A 757 cut through the North and South Towers like butter. America watched as an airplane was swallowed whole into the 78th floor.
Our Pentagon and government has been shown time and again to be completely and obscenely wasteful without remorse and without a shred of accountability to the American people who fund their warmongering ways. When we will we have enough of political parties which are designed to divide us and keep us distracted from the serious problems we have? We could have had a completely green energy system implemented by now, and these covert wars of conquest in the Middle East and South America must be stopped. THOSE are our biggest problems.
Without resolving those issues nothing else can happen. We must look at root causes if we are to challenge and fix our democracy. The hour is late but we can still do something about it, I believe. Maybe that’s a foolish belief but I will fight for peace overseas and transparency in our government’s spending until my dying day without regret. It doesn’t matter if I make any real difference in the world, it only matters that I continue to speak for what’s right.
Each and every person can do this – I know the urge to give up is strong, but don’t. Use common sense, and don’t hate your Republican neighbor. Clearly the Democrats are on board with never-ending war, at the expense of all the other things we could do with that money. Trump is a symptom of the disease, not the cause.
After spending 13 years in a Louisiana prison, 6 of which were in solitary confinement, Maryam Henderson-Uloho was free (so to speak).
She found herself struggling immediately. As a felon, she was unable to rent an apartment, find work or get a credit card. As she puts it, “You’re not allowing me the tools that I need to sustain myself out here in society.”
Realizing that safety was of paramount importance for women in particular, she started Sister Hearts, a thrift store and “re-entry” program “focused on providing ex-offenders with a safe environment to achieve their goals with dignity.”
Incarceration in the U.S. does little to actually rehabilitate inmates, nor does it adequately prepare them for the uphill process of putting their lives back together outside prison walls. Meeting deadlines with probation officers is non-negotiable and include finding employment, a place to live, money to pay fees, and reliable transportation to accomplish these tasks.
The imminent threat of going back to prison adds additional pressure, and many do just that: a 9-year (2005-2014) Bureau of Justice study shows 43-55% of ex-offenders end up back inside. More than 30% of those who re-offend do so within the first 12 months of release, with the first three years showing the peak arrest rates.
Extended time in solitary is particularly traumatic. Studies have been able to measure DNA rewiring and physical changes in the brain occurring within the first 24 hours. Mental trauma akin to having suffered a head injury and PTSD make assimilation back into to daily life painfully difficult.
And I don’t have a study to quote but I’ve personally observed what I will call an unsympathetic, rather unforgiving public sentiment toward felons in general. It seems “time served” for some people means nothing and felons are not to be afforded the benefit of a second chance. I’ve heard people say things like, “Well, I’m not the one who went to jail.” Or my personal favorite, “They shouldn’t have broken the law in the first place.”
It’s beyond the scope of this post for me to get into the particulars on the failings of the justice system, but at the very least consider that a prison term was served, and ex-offenders are not escapees. Supposedly people serve time so they could pay their “debt to society” for whatever wrongdoing was done.
I think it only makes sense support those coming back into our communities by allowing them the rights that other people have. Otherwise, why let them out in the first place?
Anyway, do check out the film short I posted. Henderson-Uloho’s compassion for others in similar circumstances is a gorgeously moving thing to behold. If you are able, I encourage you to donate. She has lots of options for directing funds to help out in specific ways, like with basic toiletries or a fresh bed. Or just a straight-up digital cash gift works too.