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The Case for Little Brother or: How I Learn to Stop Worrying and Love BB

  • By Ryan Skidmore

BB is the nickname given to Big Brother in the George Orwell novel, Nineteen Eighty Four. Now what does a business blog like yours truly have pontificating about such lofty matters. GPS tracking is kind of aggregating technology. Aggregation of lots of information by a large or governmental organization like what BB does in our dystopian novel makes such an organization a potential kind of Big Brother. It is advantageous to daringly flesh out potential realms of possibility and know a thing or two before we and ours unexpectedly find ourselves there. So consider, given current technology and social trend, One (you, me, whoever, average citizen) should be far more concerned with another private citizen’s potential spying on them, a kind of Little Brother, so to speak ,than large institutions (governmental or otherwise) potentially spying on them.

Watch Out for Little Brother

Consider all the websites any old nobody can use to see what someone else is up to. Facebook. Anybody with a Facebook can look at anybody else’s profile. Additionally, many people do not take advantage of any of the privacy features…at all. Linkedin. Even if One uses fake information on Facebook they may wince at stuffing their digital CV with bunk info lest their career suffer. Googling a name. Usually googling someone’s name will turn up, at minimum, a few juicy results. Google street view. Now if the nobody does have One’s work or home address, they can visually see that address without ever leaving their computer. There are also lots of tools out there for an individual to spy on another individual. A GPS tracker will tell where ever the target goes. Science fiction gadgets come to life everyday and stealth cloaks are almost a thing. (http://www.infoworld.com/article/2606741/computer-hardware/146149-Science-vs.-fiction-15-sci-fi-technologies-that-are-almost-here.html#slide3) And, given the prodigious nature of the Maker community (http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/how-diy-electronics-trend-empowering-people-communities-businesses.html) a middle aged man in San Fransisco will have a tutorial on how to make one for “under $100” within weeks of scientists announcing they’ve made one. Within a month of that, a group of Midwest teenagers will have one built and have videos of themselves performing pranks with it on Instagram and the hash tag “stealthcloak” accompanying every post. That is, of course, if this hasn’t already happened and my research missed it. That said, take a stroll through the spy gadgets that our nobody can now build themself. http://hacknmod.com/hack/6-outstanding-diy-spy-projects Most websites and tools useful to a solo spy require a very low level of technical expertise and cost to operate. James Bond had Q and Q had a big budget. Our solo spy needs to be able to operate Google and follow instructions. No engineering degree, “field experience”, or coding skills require. The barrier to entry is pretty low here. Lastly, Little Brother cares. He is willing to invest time and effort in finding facts. This simple intent, focus, and determination is the most important factor making Little Brother a danger to One’s peace of mind and physical wellbeing.

Big Brother Doesn’t Care

You, I mean, One (our hypothetical everyman) is not that special. Unless One is a terrorist, high profile computer hacker, participate in organized crime, or a foreign spy, BB doesn’t care about what you do online, or in the real world, to the point of keeping a manila folder reading Your Lastname, Your Firstname. What’s more, the government, and large institutions, are not “out to get you”. (http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/09/18/internet-surveillance-is-a-necessary-part-of-national-security) The intention for harm, meddling, or some other direct intervention just isn’t there. An individual doing specific research about a specific target online or otherwise is a different opera. BB doesn’t even care enough to focus surveillance on you. Methods of collection have moved from focused eavesdropping to scooping swathes of data and then datamining that trove. (http://theweek.com/articles/463342/6-reasons-should-shouldnt-freak-about-nsa-datamining) In the long term and abstract, any supervillain would gleefully take such action to some grandiose end, yet in the realm of the daily and of feasibility worrying about ramifications (given One is still an average citizen) from data collection makes about as much sense as never being more than a few paces from one’s end-of-the-world bunker lest an apocalyptic meteor descend from the heavens to end humanity’s run on this planet. A life always within reach the bunker would be an odd one. Lastly, institutions are accountable for their actions and usually subject to some over sight. Individuals, beside the intervention of other individuals or prison, are not.

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