Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

1968, 2001 SPACE ODYSSEYBy: Grainne Rhuad

Remember when Google earth first came out and your dad sat on the computer for days on end looking at Mt. Kilimanjaro; or at least that’s what he said…

It was kinda amazing though how you could see the world from your family’s ginormous and shared hulk of a PC, not to mention all the fun you had looking up your own house and that of your secret crush’s.

Ever since the first person noticed their car in their driveway shown for the entire world to see, they have also been concerned about privacy and how much Google earth would invade it.  Were we being spied on?

Unless you only move a fraction of a foot a year or you literally do not move at all, it’s not likely as the pictures capture stills and most people easily walk away from Google earth’s evil plan to control their movements.

At least that’s what you thought, but there may still be some ways that Google as well as other programs can be used to target you psychologically, commercially and can even gain tactical advantage over you.

If you have been spending any amount of time using email in a non-censored country you have likely noticed Google already scanning email accounts to find ads relevant to you. If not, next time you are reading a long missive from your mom or boss take a look to the column that provides ad space.  Be amazed that the ads very often sync up with one or more words in the body of your email.

But Google has gone a step farther than that.  For those of you with computers that have microphones which equals just about everyone whose computer is newer than 15 years old, Google now listens in on whatever you are talking about while your internet browser is open…(that we know of…maybe they have advanced this technology to listen when you aren’t online.)

That’s why you may notice certain ads popping up say, on Facebook.  Example: You are playing WOW online with someone so incredibly uncreative that they named their player Xenu.  After playing for a couple of hours and talking back and forth about what an ass-kicking you are going to give Xenu, you may start to notice ads for L.R. Hubbard’s antiquated book Dianetics.

You may be thinking right about now, “Hey what about privacy and permission?”  It will likely be of no comfort to you whatsoever that Pudding Media’s CEO Ariel Maislos has squashed any potential issues with privacy: He says that their target group is young people, and they don’t care about privacy.

If you aren’t familiar with Pudding Media, when they aren’t making delicious desserts, they are one of the major players in writing programs that collect your voice imprint.

Not only are your conversations being listened in on, they are being stored.  The resulting list of stuff you talk about in front of your computer is being called your Acoustic Fingerprint.

This goes further than your computer however as the new generation of smart televisions’s are also equipped to take your acoustic fingerprint.  Right now “As seen on T.V.” is making note of what you are talking about as well as probably Home Shopping Network.  They mainly do this via your cell phone but there have been plans for a while now to utilize your remote control to collect data as well.

But these are tech spies and they aren’t going to stop at your relentless ranting. Now there is   advertising based on environmental conditions.
“As that title implies, it’s not just background sounds that could be used to determine what adverts you seen on your mobile phone. The patent also describes using ‘temperature, humidity, light and air composition’ to produced targeted adverts,” reports the Daily Mail.

That’s right, companies that want information to sell you shit are also going to take note of your music preferences, TV watching habits, your choice of radio station, and whatever else is happening in your immediate environment, in order to build a psychological profile of your entire life.

The current patent relates to smart phones, but again, any Inter-connected device could ultimately be used for the same purpose.  Not that they need to, when was the last time your smart phone was more than one room away from you?

And maybe you don’t care if advertisers cater to you via your mouth noise.  Wouldn’t that be better anyway, getting commercials you care about.

Except, CIA Director David Petraeus recently lauded this development as “transformational” because it would open up a world of new opportunities for “clandestine tradecraft,” or in other words, make it easier for intelligence agencies and governments to spy on you via your dishwasher.

Petraeus said the emergence of so-called ‘smart’ devices would “change our notions of secrecy,” allowing authorities to track individuals via their household appliances.

“Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance,”reports Wired.

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing,” Petraeus told attendees at a meeting for the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.

Hey, but that’s not all!  Google and several other hacker-ish types have the ability to view and record you, even gather streaming video through your computer’s webcam, which has pretty much been standard issue on new computers for the past 7 years.  So make sure you look nice before you sit down because you can’t create a cubist overlay for this thing.

You can read about it at THIS everso soothing article which wants you to believe, “Hey, no problem man…you are savvy right? You don’t have anything to hide do you?”

Now you are likely thinking just like I did, this is all at least a year old and anyway, who doesn’t understand when they are carrying around a computer/phone their stuff is no longer private?

Did you think you would be spied on while you were gardening?

Recently an astute urban planner figured out that Google earth could be used to make a more accurate map of the urban gardening scene in Chicago.  Thus CUAMP (Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Program) was born.

On the face of things, it’s a positive program.  The idea is to find out where people are growing food in Chicago.  Anyone wanting to list co-ops and community gardens had a hard time with this before the Google idea came up as city gardens like city people, move around a lot.   Also, people generally did not list their backyard gardens in any polls.  But the AUA (Advocates for Urban Gardening) wanted to show people that really a lot of people were doing more than they thought. The findings of this study can be found in Landscape and Urban Planning.


“Of the 1,236 documented “community gardens,” recognized by various groups throughout the city, it turned out only 160 – or 13 percent – were really growing food (according to aerial images from June of 2010). But trolling over the city, frame by frame on Google Earth, Taylor found what looked like 4,494 possible sites of urban agriculture, many of which appeared to be small residential gardens. Their total mass adds up to 264,181 square meters of urban agriculture, much of it on the city’s South and West sides and far northwest where minority and immigrant communities are located.

“There is often this idea that urban agriculture is something that’s new and sometimes perceived to be trendy,” Taylor says. “But of course it’s just been going on for generations in people’s backyards and in these interstitial spaces, like right-of-ways and vacant lots. Across the city, there are lots of folks who are doing this on their own or with support from their neighbors.”

One garden in the city’s South Shore neighborhood has even been continuously cultivated since it was first planted as a victory garden during World War II. In other neighborhoods, particularly around Chinatown and in Eastern and Southern European communities of the northwest side, nearly every backyard viewed through Google Earth appears to be growing something.” (Source:

Detroit is also beginning to implement some of this Google-ish goodness.  As far as I could tell Detroit’s program seems to be targeting vacant lots in conjunction with the city in targeted neighborhoods.

“However, members of the urban farming movement in Detroit must work under the radar, Devlin said, because some of the gardens violate city land use laws. Chickens squabbling in the pen at Spirit Farm are breaking the law — farm animals are not allowed in the city — and the tin roof over the oven made of clay, sand and straw is not up to code.

The Garden Resource Program and other nonprofit groups provide resources to community gardens in part because the city does not have funds, Devlin said.”- (source:  )

And therein lies one of the main concerns I think people should be immediately aware of in this Google image indexing of landscapes.  While many gardeners and people of other hobbies have operated under the creed, “What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.”  The cities now have at their fingertips dozens if not more law breakers.  Breaking the law by gardening

Which may not seem like a big thing right away, until you think about people being sued for having edible front and side gardens like this lady:

In addition, for those of you who just know the government wants you to eat genetically modified food and take away everything except your enslaving job; how easy would it be to use this information in a tactical attack on the urban population?  In case you think the government doesn’t care about this, be assured your conspiracy theorist friends are right; there is a wing of government that takes care of keeping an eye of just such things.  It’s called the Rapid Assessment of Land Use Change In And Around Protected Areas.

Before you take an axe to all of your electronics and swear off modern life try to remember something.  Most of these things have already been in place for several years.  You have been both benefiting and giving to the machine for at the very least two years every single time you log on.  Also, the goal of all of this is to keep you happy. (Happy slaves/workers are productive slaves/workers.)

Also, most likely coming in the future is the Logan’s Run inspired ability to order a guy or gal for the evening from your television.  And, thanks to all this information gathered about you, she or he will be just what you want.  Bummer about those crystals in your hands and your lottery death date though.


By Grainne

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13 thoughts on “Yes. You Are Being Spied On.”
  1. Scary. I had no idea on the voice collection that has been going on. This poses significant confidentiality issues for psychiatrist, psychologists and psychotherapists. Nixed my plans for Skype based therapy that is for sure.

  2. I guess we now know what they meant by transparency. It wasn’t the government that intended to transparently let us know what they are thinking and doing. They were intent on removing any sense of privacy we might possibly have, in case we get some weird sort of idea that we can have independent thought and independent behavior.

  3. Thanks Twitter23.

    Karla, yes the transparency is all about the citizenry. We have no further to look than TSA and it’s incredibly literal transparency for that. But, I think people are catching on to this entirely too late. The reality is we have been giving away our information for a very long time. To try to stem the tide now is really not practical. Better to learn to work within.

    I don’t usually promote other people’s stuff on my own articles but I just saw this graph today, after mine went to print and I must say it is a very nice visual demonstration of some of the things we are talking about here.

  4. Ah, Rich, you don’t need to be nervous. What can anyone do about all your garden pictures and knitting? Ooops! Sorry to let the cat out of the bag, but see, now you have nothing to worry about.

  5. So, for those of you who may fear your comments are lost, just know, they are not lost to us. We are trying a new format and really I am writing this comment as a test anyway. Hopefully they should appear in the next day or so. What this format affords you however is the opportunity to invite other people to any given discussion and to post easily any comment or string of comments that you wish in another format so you can talk about our brilliance. 🙂 Oh and you can also include pictures with your comments now like this:

  6. I’ve got bad
    news, I’m currently selling a product that is being bought up by media orgs
    across the USA that is the ultimate “audience management” tool. Wrap
    your heads around this. Media companies typically own several newspapers,
    magazines, internet sites, TV and radio stations. Their systems were always separate.
    Many of them used circulation, analytics and advertising systems to maintain (
    and store) data, usually different vendors with a market niche. With the rise
    of new media, the forced consolidation has led for the innovation of a behavior
    that can consume all data using APIs and make rational judgment calls using
    intelligent profiles. Some Ad systems have been doing this for a while, but the
    logic now is light years ahead. The System is really smart, if you use social
    media an/or session in by local account, you have essentially become a target
    and are being tracked so that global CMS systems can cram content ( things you
    want to read that match your profile) and profile matching ads down your throat.
    If you try to be cute and use different browsers, the System is pretty damn
    good at making educated guess using your anonymous profile. Three clicks and
    you’ve already given the System a lot of ideas about what profile you might
    match. And you can thank Google Analytics for that portion of the tracking. Big
    brother is here, and you won’ t be able to escape it. Even as we speak, virtual
    publication software companies (all of them) are adopting dynamic optimization
    techniques. ( Insert evil laugher track and deposits check)

  7. I did come across all sorts of tools of this sort while researching this so I know of wherein you speak. It is what it has become. People hardly realize that in the early days of internet while they were learning to watch porn and send cute emails with teddy bears made out of stars, companies were already learning how to use that info to make you buy Windex or Subarus or Michelobe. It is way past too late to worry about this at this point. You are doomed! Doomed! (cue more laughter….)

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