In 1949 George Orwell wrote a novel called 1984 that explains in detail a world where most of the population are victims of omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. At the time of the novel’s release, the general population couldn’t dare fathom such a world. Well, needless to say, the only thing inaccurate about the novel was the year—turns out it’s the year 2018 that we are seeing our freedom of privacy being shredded like a tattered American flag in the wind of injustice.
Big brother didn’t force itself onto you…you invited it
Over 1.17 billion people use Google, and over 1.52 billion are utilizing the companies search engine on a daily basis, according to the statistical tech site called Statista. With a large percentage of those users taking full advantage of Gmail, it should come as no surprise that millions of people are communicating daily via email on issues pertaining to business and personal, alike. With such a high volume of users sharing personal information, it was keeping that information personal that became too much for the tech giant to resist.
The Wall Street Journal reported on unnerving evidence that revealed Google’s scanning of inboxes of Gmail users, inbox invasions by outside software developers and even privacy violation from hundreds of app developers electronically scanning inboxes of those who signed up for their programs. Basically, they are all reading your emails and using that information to sell you things. The latest scandal involved Cambridge Analytica which misused the personal information of over 80 million Facebook users in an attempt to sway elections, according to the Business Insider. The trust of those who download apps, sign up for Gmail accounts, or simply sign up to receive travel discounts is being stomped upon for the sake of power and money. The worst part is that they did this by taking advantage of your trust the moment you signed up for their services.
The proof is in the pudding
The next time you want to download an app, take a moment to actually read the list of items you are giving that app the permission to do on your phone. The list includes requests for your permission to view your photos, your contacts, and even to have access to your text messages and emails. Your innate trust forces you to ignore that list and simply hit ACCEPT without thinking twice.
That is, until you see that your email’s inbox is becoming flooded with items you never signed up for. In Google’s defense, they do require that outside developers pass a vetting process to ensure an acceptable privacy agreement. This helps Google to attempt a certain measure of protection for their customers and end users, but unfortunately, this doesn’t stop the fact that there is no evidence that Google enforces this at all. Additionally, The Journal reported that it’s not an automated system that rummages through individual emails; but rather, the actual employees of Gmail.
Snooping hits hardest when politicians are involved
The Justice Department’s internal watchdog revealed that James Comey used a personal Gmail account to conduct FBI business, according to CNBC. Additionally, Hillary Clinton dealt with a major scandal that revolved around her using a private email account while sharing potentially top secret, official business. This is disturbing for more reasons that one can imagine.
First, and most important, you have sacred government information that is exposed and vulnerable. Second, you have potentially damaging information being exposed to Gmail employees, and other tech companies, that have direct access to these accounts. Finally, Google has shown no evidence that the problem of privacy invasion has been dealt with or resolved. With such access to information shared between political figures, it becomes difficult to believe that the overall security of the nation is intact. This is a problem.
The big reveal
If we are indeed being watched, listened to, analyzed and studied, then we should be fully aware of this fact so that we can make better decisions on which apps to download and what information we share via email. You are being watched and you don’t even know it. Believe it or not, that’s the least of your problems.
It’s the inability to accept the fact that the intense “vulnerability bleeding” that we share can be stopped by merely being more aware of what we “approve” or “accept” prior to simply doing so without thought. It also helps to know that you can’t simply trust alone that your emails aren’t easily accessed by outside parties who benefit from the information that you share. Taking the extra step of precaution by being more mindful goes a long way. If it truly starts with you…make sure it ends with you, as well.