The other day I came across an article explaining that cellphone carriers are now keeping personal information for up to seven years.
AT&T says it keeps track of who texts who and when, but never the content of the text messages. This information is kept for five to seven years.
Verizon keeps some information on users for up to a year and this includes websites a particular subscriber has visited.
Sprint Nextel Corp.’s Virgin Mobile and Verizon keep content of text messages for two to three months.
Verizon also keep data regarding which cell phone towers a user connects to, even down to the level of what neighborhood they are communicating from. AT&T has also been doing so since 2008.
This information comes out as Apple readies its release for the iPhone 5 that so many are willing to slave over. Sometimes I feel as though I’m watching cattle volunteer themselves to be led to the slaughterhouse.
So the question is how many people knew of this information?
Honestly, I was taken aback by this knowledge. It seems as though as we progress through this crazy life as human beings, we give up more of our rights without a fight. We used to be afraid of Big Brother, but now we give him the keys to our homes. This new desire to be connected, online and plugged-in has become a necessary drug to many of us (at times, I’m included).
With the government constantly telling us to hand them over personal data in order to be safe (i.e., the Patriot Act), it seems as though there’s nothing we aren’t willing to give up to feel safe from the Boogey Man that most of us have never even come in contact with. Recently, President Obama killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without due process. And Obama says he won’t tell us what he knew about him for “safety” reasons. If they’ll do this to al-Awlaki, what’s stopping the government from using our personal data to track us down when they feel as though we are an enemy of the state?
If people think this knowledge is bad, imagine what information Google has on us. With Google’s complex algorithms, I’m beyond confident that they can predict the on- and offline behavioral patterns of anyone. This life we participate in is nothing but bits of information—a complex and ever-changing equation of zeros and ones. And it seems as though phone carriers, Apple and Google own the rights to the very essence of who we are. How can this be a good thing?
As we move closer to the end of novelty, we become more and more connected to the Matrix. We have Facebook, Pandora, Twitter, Gmail, Yahoo, ESPN, QVC, Threadless and a billion other applications and accounts we sign into everyday. I worry about our complacency sometimes. It reminds me of the movie ‘A Brave New World.’ The role of the media is to ready us for a world that many of us cannot yet perceive. Look at how the bombardment of reality TV has affected our behavior. We all live on social media and Second Life as though we are people important enough for others to give a damn; Like sad clowns waiting for someone to “thumbs up” and “like” our uninhibited, unimportant posts about how sad our day really was. Is it a coincidence that reality TV and social media have become a mainstay in our society simultaneously? I don’t believe in coincidences, only fate and purposeful calculations. It’s as if we have no choice but to move in the direction of a new social reality like the movie Surrogates.
I recently deactivated my Facebook account and have no plans of going back. I’ve felt as though a part of my humanity has been restored. I don’t really care for letting computers, applications, search engines and similar machines take over the simple things we take for granted; The simple things that make us human.