Sunday, May 22, 2011

Big Brother Is Watching You

Google-Eye... in the sky
My "Google-Eye" byline is a reference to a song I recall from my youth which was about a big fish with ugly protruding eyes.

Google Eye lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

It's not just Google photographing your home from the street view. Microsoft may be claiming copyright over a low level aerial view of your home. Google or Bing your own home address, and be amazed at how much information about you and your finances is a matter of public record. These low level spies may well be responsible not only for any roof leaks you've suffered in the past couple of years (there's a date on the photo they took) but also from those baffling calls from "Card Services" urgently offering to improve on your mortgage rate of interest.

Talking of spies,
Eric Schmidt is alleged to have once said
"We know where you are," he once said during a discussion on privacy. "We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."
The quote is included in an article about Google and copyright, which is how I happened upon it, but sauce for the goose...

Also, in my morning peregrinations, I noticed that Julian Assange thinks Facebook is spook heaven.
Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence.

And Facebook rebutted:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange recently said in an interview that Facebook is "the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented." Alleging that the social network is vulnerable to "pressure" from U.S. Intelligence, Assange said that the government could potentially exploit user data stored on the network.

Here's the irony, as I see it. Big Brother is most definitely watching you. Once your medical records go on line, some perverted hacker could probably watch your colonoscopy.... yet we cling to a cherished mirage of our rights to Privacy.

What privacy? Are we kidding? So, why do we cling to all the fake user names on various social sites?

Eric Schmidt is said to have said, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

I think he has a point, although quite possibly Mr Schmidt was not talking about copyright infringement online. Maybe, everyone who uploads --UP-loads-- anything should have to use their real name or their official dba.

If the author- or artist- name on the product does not match the uploader's name, the OSP or ISP should automatically flag the upload as potentially infringing, unless and until the uploader submits a counter-DMCA notice.

This would be the absolute reverse of the way things are done right now, where anyone can use an inscrutable identity, and is automatically presumed to be the copyright owner and in compliance with every legal site's TOU and TOS.

The way things are done now, the "uploader" enjoys the automatic presumption that he owns the copyright to ebooks and music no matter how preposterous that presumption might be, and it is the burden of the author or creator to prove otherwise.

The technology surely exists. Norton/IE auto flags new websites with those grey "unverified site" blobs. Why not automatically "blob" my imaginary "mizCopyrit3vi0lat3r" until she proves that she (or he) really and truly is Nora Roberts... and James Patterson. And JK Rowling.

I wonder whether the unintended consequences of that would be a rash of identity theft. Would it give a free pass to namesakes. There are, for instance, 25 Colleen Thompsons; 23 Paula Graveses; a couple at least of Mark Zuckerbergs.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. In the 1960s, Dystopian science fiction was on the curriculum. It's baaack (if it ever went away). The irony is, that it's not really fiction this time around. So, perhaps we have to twist it.

Perhaps we all need invisibility cloaks! Maybe we need roofs that use NFL field technology, with grids of heat tape running through pallets of grassy sod for environmental friendliness and the thwart the heat mappers in outer space.

I don't appreciate why Microsoft, and Bing, and NAVTEQ, and Pictometry Birds Eye etc etc should feel that they are able to copyright a photo they took of my house (and my skylights have leaked ever since their helicopter flew over and its wash popped the rivets), so I will tell Mac owners how to snag the photo of their own roofs.

This is actually funny. Just try to copy their copyright wording, either onto an email, or into a .doc

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