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Your Guide to Keeping Your Data Private – Part 1

June 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Today we’re kicking off a two part series on securing your digital life.  In this first part we’ll touch on passwords, PC security, and smartphone security.  Consider this the warm up for part two in which we’ll hit the nitty-gritty of securing your information online and in the cloud – where it is most vulnerable to NSA snooping. First off, this guide is not comprehensive.  In it, I will assume that you have some knowledge of the Internet, computers and smartphones.  Also, I will not be held liable for how you use this information. Following these tips does not guarantee that your online presence will be untraceable or completely secure.  As with many things, your results may vary. Second, security is a trade-off.  Generally, the more security layers you enable (and you do want layers) the less user friendly and convenient your environment will become.  That’s just the way it is.  You will have to find the balance between the two on your own.  If you are the only person using your network and you don’t mind the extra time and effort, by all means, build yourself a virtual vault inside a virtual bunker surrounded by a virtual wall and […]

Here We Go Again: NSA Spying on Internet Data of Americans

June 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Coming at the heels of Wednesday’s news that the NSA was secretly obtaining hundreds of millions of phone records belonging to American citizens, we have new reports from the Washington Post of yet another Top Secret program targeting Internet data.  Operation code-name PRISM refers to a Top Secret partnership between the NSA and 9 of the top Internet firms in the United States including Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and Apple.  Since the news broke on Thursday officials from the companies involved have been coming forward with denials that they had any knowledge of the program or that the government has direct access to their servers, as alleged by the leaked information on PRISM. Slides released by the Washington Post that outline the program detail the types of data collected which include email, photos, video, chat with voice and video, Voice of IP (VoIP), stored data, file transfers, social networking details, and “special requests”.  Essentially your entire online life is available to the government.  Anything you post to Facebook (regardless of your privacy settings), your emails, your Google Drive files, your photos, and any phone calls or “Hangouts” you are involved in over the Internet are possibly being collected by the government. This is a […]

Verizon Handing Phone Records to NSA

June 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm

The Guardian just broke this gem yesterday.  It would seem that the National Security Administration (NSA) has obtained a top secret court order compelling Verizon to turn over “all call detail records” on an “ongoing, daily basis” for all calls “between the United States and abroad” or those “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” There you have it.  From the issuance of this court order, which took place on April 25, 2013 until its expiration on July 19, 2013 Verizon is ordered to provide the NSA with records on every single local call and call between the US and other countries to traverse the Verizon network.  Verizon is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the United States.  We are probably talking about hundreds of millions of call records.  This is unfathomable.  By way of this order the government is obtaining just about every detail related to these calls including the telephone numbers of both call participants, the duration of the call, location information, and the time and date of the call.  Essentially the only information the government is not taking as part of this is the actual telephone conversation. This is an unprecedented level of privacy intrusion. […]

Consent and the Nature of Rights

June 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I was recently to a physician, and as is standard these days there was a stack of paperwork that needed to be completed.  Patient information forms, medical history, office financial policy, HIPPA, and consent forms.  What caught my attention was the consent form.  Why is it necessary?  If I scheduled an appointment, is it not obvious that I would like to be examined?  While it is logical to come to such a conclusion, consent must be specifically given.  Consent is an important concept with far reaching implications. From whence does this idea of consent come?  It comes directly from the principle of ownership.  Consent is the engine through which you allow others to utilize, institute change, or exert influence over your person, your property, or other items that are under your control.  Why is consent necessary?  It is the difference between a beneficial transaction, and an act of aggression.  It is choice.  When you enter into a contract you are consenting to its terms.  When you accept a job offer you are consenting to work for an agreed number of hours at an agreed wage and to abide by company policies and procedures.  Every beneficial interaction between individuals requires, at some level, consent. […]

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

February 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I’ve talked about firearms before, and the Second Amendment as well as the right to defend one’s self and one’s property.  Those points have all been well established.  Though it seems that some still do not believe this is enough of a reason to own a firearm.  Some seem to be under the impression that the desire to own a weapon has to do with some sort of testosterone-fueled giddiness at the prospect.  I believe it is important to set those ideas to rest.  They are misguided and subvert the logic of owning a weapon by replacing the reasonable argument with some kind of base physiological distortion. There are many weapons in existence today.  In fact just about every object within your reach as you read this could be used as a weapon.  It isn’t necessarily the nature of a particular item that gives it the designation of ‘weapon’, but the use that it is put to.  Some items fit the designation better than others because their design lends itself to efficiency in terms of potential damage done.  At the basest level, that is what a weapon is; an item capable of causing damage.  Knifes are considered weapons by most, though they primarily serve as aids in eating and culinary. […]

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste

January 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

In the words of Rahm Emanuel, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  That is exactly the philosophical approach some members of our government are taking in the shadow of the horrific tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. On Wednesday President Obama held a news conference to present his plan for reducing “gun violence” in American.  Notice that it’s not “gun control” any more, instead he’s seeking to “reduce gun violence”, which sounds better.  His plan outlined a number of initiatives.  At the forefront was his call to reinstate an assault weapons ban and to limit the size of firearm magazines to ten rounds as well as a call to enforce background checks at gun shows and in private sales of firearms.  Additionally he signed 23 Executive Orders designed to address the issue ranging from clarifying the mental health services of Obamacare to requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check database. Let us examine these items closer.  First off, banning ‘assault weapons’ – there was no such thing as an ‘assault weapon’ until Congress created it when they banned them the first time in the 1990s.  The definition basically boils down to cosmetic traits […]

The Declaration of 2012

July 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I posted on this date last year to declare the need for a new American Revolution.  A lot has happened since then.  Must of what has transpired has been to the detriment of our cause and liberties.  This year it seems appropriate to call out the tyrants for their crimes, much as our nations Founders did 236 years ago.  Using their Declaration as a basis, I have attempted to update it to reflect our current plight.  The list of offenses is by no means complete, or as eloquently stated as the list compiled and laid to parchment by Thomas Jefferson but I believe they offer a reasonable overview of the usurpations we face today.  As you will see in reading, some of the charges have not changed much from their original form.   I humbly submit to you the Declaration of 2012.  If you like it and agree, please feel free to pass it on.  If you would like to suggest additions, you are welcome to add them to the comments.   IN THE UNITED STATES, July 4, 2012. The unanimous Declaration of those who yet treasure their Liberty, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for […]

Finally a Plan With Promise

November 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm

On Monday, October 17th Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul released his “Plan to Restore America”. The plan outlined some bold objectives for his first term in office if elected including $1 trillion in cuts the first year and a balanced federal budget by year 3. Dr. Paul does this all without raising any taxes. In fact, he lowers and eliminates some! The plan calls in a reduction of corporate tax to 15%, and the elimination of capital gains tax, the “death tax”, and taxes on personal savings accounts, while extending the Bush tax cuts. In order to achieve the massive spending cut, the government workforce will be reduced by 10% through attrition and the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Interior, Education, and Housing and Urban Development would all be eliminated with certain functions moving to remaining departments.  The plan will end the wars and cut all of that funding, while maintaining Defense spending and cutting all foreign aid.  It will cap all Federal Government spending at 2006 levels as well as abolish the TSA and turn those security duties over to the private sector. To foster an environment in which the economy can recover and jobs can be created Dr. Paul […]

The Constitution is Not Dead (But it Isn’t Living Either)

October 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

The United States – often recognized as a beacon of freedom to the world, though perhaps more so in the past than in the present.  The original colonists came here seeking a fresh start, a land of unrivaled opportunity, and a reprieve from the oppression of the British Crown.  Immigrants in more recent times come for similar reasons.  They come to escape oppression, to pursue new opportunity, to endeavor to better themselves and their families by taking advantage of the freedoms we here take for granted.  The ultimate reason is the freedom to determine one’s own destiny.  At one time, this was the single most appealing feature of the land of Lady Liberty to others around the world.  Slowly, the United States is slipping from its previous grandeur.  As the citizens sit back and allow themselves to be lulled into oblivion by mind-melting television shows and the latest in fashion, football or celebrity gossip the freedom and liberty that we take for granted is being stripped away.  Like an onion, each layer is slowly removed and eventually, it will be gone entirely.  With each layer compromised come the stinging tears of those who witness the degradation.  We are not yet past […]

Occupy Wall Street is a Loose Cannon

October 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm

When I wrote about the Occupy Wall Street movement a few weeks ago I had not really intended on it becoming a recurring topic, but as events transpire I find myself compelled to speak out further.  The movement has continued to gain momentum and has spread all over the country, and to various locations around the world.  More people are getting involved, and more media attention is being cast in their direction.  Some of the attention has been on the movement itself, and some on the actions of the NYPD and other police departments in response to it. At this point, we should regard the Occupy movement as a potential danger.  It is very volatile.  I do not suggest that we should be concerned that it will escalate to a point of violence, though that is not out of the question, it seems unlikely at this point it time.  The danger stems from the fact that the protestors are so very disjointed.  There is no leader, and there is no clear mission or set of demands.  The protestors might as well be there for the simple fact that they have nothing better to do.  Clearly they share in their frustration […]