If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him. —Cardinal Richelieu
You heard that they heard what you were saying. Apple contractors, employees, and, who knows, their friends.
Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or “grading”, the company’s Siri voice assistant, the Guardian has learned.
Although Apple does not explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world. They are tasked with grading the responses on a variety of factors, including whether the activation of the voice assistant was deliberate or accidental, whether the query was something Siri could be expected to help with and whether Siri’s response was appropriate.
Apple keeps the rest for listening to on long winter’s evenings. Amazon does the same. And the Lord only knows how often “they” turn on remotely your cellphone microphone.
Bob Ludwick wrote to say this to his daughter, which I thought we all might take an interest in.
First, contemporary storage devices, available to anyone from Best Buy:
Remember that at ~4 kB/page, 1 MB represents a 250 page novel. 1 GB is a thousand novels. And one TB is good for a million novels. So for $140 from Best Buy you can have 8 million ‘standard sized novels’ at your fingertips, running off the battery in your laptop.
If you are interested in saving phone conversations, the phone company sends your voice anywhere in the world at a rate of 8 kb/sec. Max. Sometimes, if the circuits are heavily loaded, they ‘steal bits’ and reduce the rate well below 8 kb/sec.
With that in mind our 8 TB hard drive will store 8e12/8e3 or 1e9 seconds of phone conversations.
Now there are 86,400 seconds/day and 365 days/year, so if you call someone and talk 24/7/365, your $140 drive will store a bit over 31 years worth of your phone conversations. Or, looking at it another way, if you spend 30 minutes a day on the phone it will handle your phone usage for over 1520 years. Or ALL the phone traffic of 1500 people for a year. For $120. Using power from a USB port.
That is what you can do on a whim, at the drop of a credit card.
The NSA recently completed the Utah Data Center. This is what they had to say about it at the Unclassified level: “Our Utah ‘massive data repository’ is designed to cope with the vast increases in digital data that have accompanied the rise of the global network.”
Keep in mind that this is only ONE of the NSA data collection, storage, and processing sites. They have others. And there are MANY ‘security agencies’, each with their own ‘in house’ data collection, storage, and processing centers.
Note what NSA says, at the unclassified level, that they collect and process at the Utah Data Center.
Where do they get it?
Well, for years they got it from facilities like this one: The NSA’s Spy Hub in New York, Hidden in Plain Sight.
(Remember the famous denial that Trump had been wiretapped? Probably technically true. Wire tapping individual phones is not necessary when you have ALL phone traffic on file, supercomputers to search it with, and a cadre of ‘deep state’ supporters (with a visceral hatred of Trump AND his supporters-added just now) in place to do the searching.)
Now, domestic institutions and businesses are required, as a matter of law, to make the above information available to the government.
Feel safer now?
I might add that the proliferation of ‘Smart TV’s’, hooked to the internet 24/7/365, responding to ‘voice controlled handsets’, waiting patiently 24/7/365 to respond to voice commands such as ‘Find ESPN’, phones with live mikes and live cameras, hooked to the internet 24/7/365, waiting patiently to hear ‘Hey SIRI, where is the closest pizza restaurant?’, and newer cars responding to ‘voice commands’ has made essentially every person in the country ‘self-bugging’.
EVERY conversation in the presence of a ‘Smart TV’ is available to the internet. Does anyone care? Does the government want it? Everyone in possession of a ‘Smart Phone’, which is essentially everyone in the country over the age of 4, is carrying around a live mike and a live cameras, whose output goes to the internet. (Could that be the reason that Smart TV’s and Smart Phones are so cheap?) Everyone driving or riding in a modern car is conversing in the presence of a live mike, which is hooked to the internet. Which is archived by the government and searched by government entities who may have an interest in what you are doing, what you are saying, and who you are doing and saying it with.
The government doesn’t even have to sneak into your house or car to bug them. All it has to do is continue doing what it says openly that it IS doing: archiving ALL electronic transactions, intentional and unintentional, and analyzing them for ‘threats’. Or, as we have learned in the age of Obama, analyzing them for material that can be used against political enemies.
At the NSA parody site they print these words, which I promise I am not making up:
Your Data: If You Have Nothing to Hide, You Have Nothing to Fear
If you listen closely enough, you can just hear on the wind the soft laugh of Cardinal Richelieu.
Update This is not parody: British spies must have ‘backdoor’ access to encrypted Facebook and WhatsApp messages to combat child abuse and terrorism, spy chiefs will demand at ‘Five Eyes’ security summit. And, of course, don’t forget what Five Eyes is.
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