He Sees You When You're Sleeping...
December 10, 2003 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Big Brother Really Exists, And He's Not Who You Think He Is. While most of those in the privacy realm have been focusing on keeping the government from spying on its citizens, the government has made an end-run: Letting the private sector do it for them. ChoicePoint, an Atlanta-based spinoff from credit agency Equifax, now has more than 200 terrabytes of data on us, and as previously noted, they're not always very good at it. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
posted by darren (25 comments total)
I've heard it a lot, but I still don't understand the point of view that says, "better business spying on me than the government." After all, any business data can be gotten by the government -- and with laws like the Patriot Act, they don't even need to pretend to have a warrant or subpoena to do it.
posted by Slothrup at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2003

What are Blogs: Brother's Logistics.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2003

Years ago, reading up a good deal on gypsy life, esp. in am3erica, I came to recognize the wisdom of their way: fake everything. Driver's license, addresses, names, etc--leave no paper trail. Have no numbers attached to you that are real, not even social security...other than that, They KnowYou and..........
posted by Postroad at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2003

Self link.

Fiction, but if you think it's impossible, think about how often you're probably on some kind of camera in a public place right now. Wave to the ATM next time you use it, and security cameras in the grocery store, traffic cams on the road... but don't look up. ;)
posted by weston at 11:58 AM on December 10, 2003

ChoicePoint's role in the Florida voter-registration lists was due to their merger with Database Technologies. The founder of DBT then went on to develop the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange program.

Be afraid indeed.
posted by homunculus at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2003

The main link discusses the rivalry between ChoicePoint and Matrix, but not their possible connections. I wonder if there are any others besides Asher's involvement in DBT and Matrix.

Great post, darren.
posted by homunculus at 12:39 PM on December 10, 2003

The CEO is a Bush Pioneer and a personal friend of Katherine Harris and Jeb! Bush so I'm sure all of you "Bush-haters" are just being overly paranoid. Dear Leader can do no wrong. Or not.
posted by nofundy at 12:39 PM on December 10, 2003

After all, any business data can be gotten by the government -- and with laws like the Patriot Act, they don't even need to pretend to have a warrant or subpoena to do it.

there is no significant difference anymore between business and government. business *is* the government.
posted by quonsar at 12:51 PM on December 10, 2003

This is the kind of stuff that really scares the crap out of me. The loss of privacy and the loss of the right to privacy in the wake of 9/11 is the most dangerous thing Bush has ever done. Right now, the government can legally detain you without benefit of counsel, without charging you and without ever letting your loved ones know where you are.

What fucking country are we living in anyway? These people are crooks even if they aren't breaking the law, they are breaking the spirit of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

This sucks! And then there's the whole aspect of the last election being fixed by unintentionally removing a huge bunch of voters in Florida.

What's next? Arresting people for thought crimes? Or daydreaming about overthrowing the government? Hell, the Secret Service questioned Eminem about a song in which he talks about killing the president, note that he didn't say which president but it was enough anyway.

People refuse to see our rights being eroded away from beneath us. Something's gotta give and, so far, it looks like its us, the people.
posted by fenriq at 12:55 PM on December 10, 2003

Combine this post with this news, Many Federal Agencies Flunk Security and things get even worse (though I had a hard time thinking that was possible).
posted by fenriq at 1:03 PM on December 10, 2003

i always give ATM's and gas pumps the finger. i figure i'm less than 6 months away from involuntary committment.
posted by quonsar at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2003

From the NPR transcript, posted on ChoicePoint's site:

"JAMES LEE, ChoicePoint Marketing Director: Today, you can do a basic background check that just confirms a person is who they say they are and that they have no criminal history for less than $25.

ABRAMSON: Landlords can screen tenants. Employers can find out exactly who they’re hiring. Insurance companies can find out what kind of risk you really are. All that power, of course, brings with it awesome responsibility. And James Lee says the company has always been aware of the privacy implications.

JAMES LEE: Our business model and our policies are all built on respecting the individual’s data. It’s not ours. It doesn’t belong to ChoicePoint. It belongs to the individual whose life is being reviewed, or their information is being reviewed. It’s theirs."

But wait, James Lee, you just said it could be mine for $25 the very last time you opened your mouth. Does the $25 go to "the individual whose life is being reviewed"?? No, it goes to you. So you make $25 off of THEIR information.

I just don't understand how people can swallow this idiocy. BTW, this is a great example of doublethink (believing two contradictory ideas at the same time) imho, speaking of Big Brother.

posted by zekinskia at 1:32 PM on December 10, 2003

i just don't understand why the datacenters haven't been bombed.
posted by quonsar at 2:02 PM on December 10, 2003

double plus ungood...but not a surprise.
posted by dejah420 at 2:13 PM on December 10, 2003

Come on guys and girls! They are harnessing "the positive power of information!"
posted by moonbiter at 2:39 PM on December 10, 2003

"think about how often you're probably on some kind of camera in a public place right now"

Or know for sure. There are projects in New York and Minneapolis (disclosure: I'm active in the MSCP, which is nowhere near complete) to document the cameras. I don't know of any other way find out exactly how many there are than walking around and looking. Regardless of how you feel about them, without knowing that, there's no way to have a meaningful discussion of the topics of surveillance and privacy. To my knowledge, though, these are the only two US cities where things like this have been undertaken.
posted by nickmark at 3:06 PM on December 10, 2003

I'm with quonsar.
posted by Hall at 5:07 PM on December 10, 2003

The link above is dead and leads to a happy little story about the Wright brothers. But there's always the Google Cache version!
posted by fenriq at 5:10 PM on December 10, 2003

there's also the archive of the article, the link isn't dead, it's to a url whose content changes weekly or more.
posted by quonsar at 5:41 PM on December 10, 2003

Ah, now it makes more sense. I thought maybe the Wright Brothers had been reincarnated and were spying on us with cameras mounted on the Kitty Hawk.
posted by dg at 7:08 PM on December 10, 2003

What are all you people up to that you're so worried about me finding out?
posted by Leonard at 4:48 AM on December 11, 2003

quonsar & hall: think Fight Club
posted by bison at 7:18 PM on December 11, 2003

"I imagine there is some expensive technology at work, something on the molecular level, invisible to the naked eye, light enough to float in air. Perhaps thousands, millions of tiny receptors released into the air, each sending tiny signals back to a closed room off in the heights of this facility, with technicians peering into screens. I am visible, audible from every possible angle.

I'm a reality TV show. "

(Self Link, also fiction.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:28 AM on December 12, 2003

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