- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
No, Big Brother is Not Monitoring All Your Smart Phone Use
Is Big Brother tracking each and every one of us by way of the GPS in our smart phone? Is the Federal government determining whether that late two-martini lunch we shared with a woman other than our wife really was tax-dediuctible by simply tapping into our endless iPhoning stream of digital data?
I doubt that any level of government — no matter how many black helicopters it might own —has the time, energy, money or interest to bother tracking or monitoring its citizenry through its smart phone usage. (That being said, if you should happen to be a jihadist, multiple felon, pedophile, really annoying celebrity stalker, militia wingnut, meth cooker, serial check kiter, or some other such individual, I can virtually guarantee you that some agency of the United States Federal Government has probably already been keeping tabs on you by one means or another, whether via your high school yearbook photo, criminal records, parole information, tax returns, wire-taps, warrants, security camera videos, tire tread impressions, those last five transmissions of ill-considered sexting, the postmarks on those threatening letters you sent your ex last year, or whatever.)
The single greatest force keeping governments from doing any serious or methodical smart phone monitoring is simply the enormous scope of the task. When your neighbor's seemingly developmentally challenged 12-year-old daughter can still manage to manipulate her smart phone to blast out over 4,000 texts a month (as can all of the other hundreds of thousands of tweens and teens of similar habits), and when every single driver you happen to pass in rush hour traffic seems to be busy rescheduling the day's meetings, reviewing sports scores, checking the weather, calling the spouse, or trolling for porn on their ubiquitous handhelds, the oceans and oceans of monitor-able data out there have become vast and endless, and are only getting seriously broader and deeper with each passing day.
Compounding the problem most recently is the fact that more and more of our smart phone feeds and downloads are no longer simple alphanumeric streams, but now encompass full-color and full-motion video as well. After all, it's one thing to track the mere kilobytes that might comprise a simple text message; it's quite another to try to grab a few successive frames of a multi-megabyte streaming video with synchronized sound. Reportedly, for every single moment that ticks by today, there will be at least a full day's worth of new video uploaded to YouTube alone. That site is wrestling with how it can ever hope to handle, catalog and serve up its ever-burgeoning buffet of video fare.
Does anyone seriously think that a mere government agency, bound by bureaucracy and red tape and civil service and Congressional funding, is going to be able to cost-effectively sift through such gargantuan and ever-growing digital haystacks for the few, if any, meaningful needles? (C'mon! Today's massive corporate gatekeepers of digital fare can't even seem to do it well or efficiently, and they've got profit motive, market share and business survival at stake!)
Besides, who the ~!@#$%^ cares if, for example, at 9:07 a.m. on Monday, February 13, 2012, a Rodney Pilkington, bearded assistant barista at Sam's Corner Coffee Shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin, texted "Whatup?" to his former college roommate Sandor Miltkowski, shaved-headed tattoo-sporting morning shift counterman at Hilda's House of Copies in East Langton, Missouri? Even if they were to plan some rambunctious reunion hijinks involving a rival university's ursine mascot, three nubile and scantily clad coeds, and a crate and a half of whipped cream? Are we all so convinced of our own importance to the daily transit of the spheres in their celestial orbits that we think such a thing is even worth monitoring?
Get a grip, little people! Not even Ashton Kucher's tweets were ever that valuable to intercept or to hijack, let alone yours. Fell free to text and sext and tweet and talk all you like. You are just making any trails and traces ever harder to find beneath all those gigabytes of so much — excuse the term — human garbage.
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