In my last post, I described my brief re-acquaintance with Windows, and how I once again booted Microsoft out of my life. Well, something happened today to disabuse me of that notion. It wasn't really a surprise, just a confirmation of what most of us have already come to believe about the Big Tech oligarchy. As mentioned in that previous post, I had to create an online account with Microsoft in order to access any kind of technical support. Microsoft has created an online "community" consisting of various services similar to that of Google. They use their OS and other products to trap users into dependency upon it and inextricably embed themselves in our lives, just as Google has done. I was reminded today of just how deeply these corporate parasites have burrowed into our personal affairs. It began when I took a photo.
This is a wireless-hostile household. We don't have and never will have wi fi in the house, but we do have one smart phone, as such devices have become a virtual necessity, thanks to The Herd's incessant habit of demanding convenience at any cost and rushing to grasp the next shiny new thing with no consideration of how it will alter our lives. I found reason to snap a photo with said smart phone. I then moved the image to a folder on the SD card. During that process, I got a pop up window I'd never gotten before, urging me to sign in to Onedrive, Microsoft's cloud service, and store the photo in the cloud.
Now, if this were a Windows phone, given that all the software Microsoft makes regularly reports to the mother-ship, it would not have been noteworthy. That, however, is not the case. It's a Samsung phone, running Google Android. The carrier is Cricket. The account is in my mother's name. When I created the Microsoft account, I used a fake name and birth date out of annoyance at the intrusion. I have turned Google location services off (supposedly) on this phone. As I said, we don't have home wi fi, and I have never connected the phone to this computer by USB or any other physical method. So, how did this phone's OS suddenly 'know' that its owners have access to a Microsoft account?
What this says, loud and clear, is that all of the tech giants are gathering information that they have no business collecting, by a variety of methods they shouldn't be using, and that they are sharing the data they collect with each other. The phone's location is easy; meta data. Most likely, some app buried deep within Android is sending reports to Google's servers. While Android is freeware, the Google branded version that virtually all manufacturers install contains proprietary code that can't be readily examined.
What about the new computer? We know Microsoft uses device fingerprinting. It's how they verify that you have a licensed copy of Windows if you have to reinstall it. Basically, if your PC has ever had Windows on it, Microsoft has a record of your configuration, and unless you've changed the hardware, they can identify that machine whenever it connects to their servers - and so can any website or embedded third party service that Microsoft has shared that data with. It's reasonable to suspect that Google does something similar with Android devices and Chromebooks. Still, that wouldn't allow anyone to positively place that PC in the same house as our cell phone, not when I bought the computer from a vendor on NewEgg and used a fake name to create a Microsoft account. That and/or an IP address is only going to provide a general (city) location, not a specific address. The only thing I can think of is purchase data.
Most online retailers contract with third parties to provide shopping cart and payment processing software, the biggest providers being Amazon, Google and Shopify. If any of those services is collecting shoppers' purchase records and sending them back to the parent company, that would allow Google, Microsoft, etc. to associate a name and address with the device fingerprint. So, if Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc., etc. are sucking up and sharing data on this scale, even if it's being done by software, automatically and without human eyes, that would explain how a Microsoft server could notice a new Microsoft account being created, associate it with a physical address, and then send a message to a Google Android phone at that address triggering it to nag the owner to sign in to Microsoft Onedrive.
So, that one little nag message gives away the game. Big Tech has completed a real time, comprehensive surveillance network. We helped them build it, and we paid for it. Nor is it limited to phones and computers. If you own a new car, its onboard computers are constantly sending data about your location, driving habits and other behavior back to the manufacturer. Not only that, the manufacturers are selling that data.
Dear reader, if I still have to explain how much danger this huge information binge Big Tech/Big Gov is on puts us in, after all the people who've been 'canceled', censored, banned, doxxed, sued, assaulted, had their lives and livelihoods ruined just for voicing the "wrong" opinion or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you're hopeless. Almost nothing we do now goes unrecorded, and it will get worse as more and more of the tools and appliances we depend on become 'smart' and connected. I still hear people say "I have nothing to hide." Really? Does that mean you'd be OK with, say, your employer's health insurance provider browsing through your search history? Do you think they might want to know why someone in your house (or a close relative or friend) was visiting sites on medical marijuana? Well, perhaps you don't have anything to hide, but the problem with this attitude is that it isn't you making that determination. Some faceless bureaucrat will be deciding if your interests, opinions, beliefs, and personal relationships are acceptable, not you. Is that the world you want to live in? If so, be my guest, but the only way I'll be coming with you is hog tied, cussing and trying to bite my captors.
I am, and have always been, unafraid to voice my opinions. In fact I believe everyone needs to vent now and then, and we all have a God given right to do so. I despise willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty, and take a perhaps perverse pleasure in puncturing the politically correct proclamations of those who have anointed themselves as our betters. I could be described as a contrarian and a bit of a curmudgeon, having now reached an age at which those labels no longer sound odd. Not everything I'll address here will be controversial. In fact, I would rather keep that sort of thing somewhat limited (and it should surprise no one that I probably won't succeed in doing so). We already have our fill of whining talking heads on the 'net. However, if you are easily offended or thin skinned, you might want to skip this blog. You have been warned.