1984 Was A Warning, Not An Instruction Manual

A little bit of paranoia is always healthy.

In the 1980s, the totalitarian fear was that some overenthusiastic government agent would go to the library and pull your library card to see if you were reading seditious texts.

Seems a bit quaint now, doesn’t it?

It didn’t at the time.

Of course, the East German Stasi went to those lengths to spy on its citizens, but there was never any real danger of it happening in the US.

Fast forward to today.

  • Facebook knows who your friends, friends of friends, and acquaintances are. It knows what you look like, and what your friends and family look like. It knows what TV shows you watch, what music you listen to, and in all likelihood, your political activities.
  • Amazon is today’s library card—it knows every book you’ve ever ordered, along with more pedestrian purchases like vitamin supplements.
  • Netflix is a database of pretty much every TV show and movie you’ve ever watched.
  • Google has a repository of every Internet search made by every American citizen.

F, A, N, G. What does that spell?

Those four stocks have outperformed over just about any timespan.

Does anyone else find it more than a coincidence that they are also potentially the biggest threat to online privacy?

Like I said, that library card thing seems a bit quaint.

…continue reading

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