Eyes Watching
D.G. Kaye,  Freedoms,  Great information,  Internet Safety,  My Two Cents,  Opinion,  Strange Happenings

The Eyes Have It – How Many Eyes are Watching Us?

Scary Alexa – Digital Footprints – All eyes on us

 

Lord knows with the amount of time I spend on the computer, I’m enabling my digital footprints to stretch far and beyond.  We’re caught in a web of  our personal lives, living somewhere in the digital library of bits and pieces of everyone, somewhere. We are losing that ability to remain anonymous as digitalization progresses. Privacy is quickly becoming obsolete in today’s digital world.

 

 Do you ever think about the fact that anytime we go out in public we are susceptible to being videoed and/or recorded?  Anyone, anywhere can take our picture and use it however they deem. Nary a public place is without a camera for their ‘security’ purposes, but nonetheless, we’re recorded. Personally, I feel there’s wayyyyyy too much information for strangers to have access to and then to do what they please with it. I don’t like it!

Maybe we’re just getting too complacent and don’t pay enough attention to it anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  There is nowhere safe anymore it seems. And this isn’t just about once we step into the outside world, but we invite the same into our own homes – some unknowingly and others quite willingly. Just think about all the digital gadgets we all have in our homes. From computers with webcams and microphones to our phones tracking our every move, and Smart TVs – there are potentially eyes on us if we  don’t remain cognizant about smart digital use such as turning off mics and covering up webcams when not in use.

And as if we don’t have enough technological spyware following us, enter Alexa.  I refuse to have one in my home. I feel there’s enough ‘big brother’ going on in our personal lives and I’m doing my best to keep from being spied on as best I can in the cyberworld, but let’s face it, if we work on computers daily, the best we can do is help minimize the invasions.  All these digital methods come with way too much convenience in exchange for our digital footprints being sold to third parties to be shared, often exploited, and lord knows who else, so they can follow us around on our digital apparatus and flash advertising at us.

The way I see it is, if I have a computer, Ipad and cell phone  within reach, do I really need to purchase an Alexa bot to move into my home so I can ask it to do things for me? Am I too lazy to Google something myself? Am I too lazy to press a button myself to turn on music or turn off a light? Do I really need to place an order on Amazon with a bot? The answer to all above are no. Besides, I’d much rather log onto Amazon and search around for things myself, and do price comparisons, and of course, read reviews before purchasing anything – not just a book.  I personally don’t enjoy a bot living in my home listening to everything that transpires in my life, my phone calls and personal discussions, because you can be sure it’s being stored in someone’s archives. No thanks. I’m not interested in living under surveillance more than I already must. And if the day comes that I’m too lazy to get off a couch to press a button, then there’s something really wrong.

Everything we can imagine is at our fingertips – literally.  Who would imagine with so many newfangled freedoms of technology we’d have to give up more of our privacy with everything we order, signup up for or merely browse. It’s the price we pay to be part of the digital movement. And if I can find ways to eliminate digital footprints I will.

So how do we attempt to keep the exposure down? Notice I said down, and not off, because in today’s world, if you have a digital gadget there’s never going to be a way to remain completely anonymous. But there are some things we can do to keep the invasion at bay:

 

  • Cover your webcams with a post-it-note
  • Turn off the mic on computer/tablets when there’s no need to use it
  • Turn off the location on your cell phones so Big Brother doesn’t follow you everywhere and only turn on when using maps for navigation
  • Sign out of your TV apps when not watching them
  • Use browsers that don’t track you like Opera or Duck Duck Go
  • Don’t leave your Alexa on all the time (if you must use one)

 

Another note of caution when house hunting – Beware when viewing properties. Many homeowners have their webcams or apps on their phones set up to view inside their homes while away, similar to Nanny cams. We don’t often think about these things when we’re in the moment and focused on the task of checking out a property, while it’s very likely the current owner has their cameras set up so they can listen to feedback from potential buyers. The days are gone where we can freely check a property and voice our concerns or comments without them being listened to. Pay attention to what you talk about while viewing, particularly, snarky comments and conversations about potentially placing an offer on the property. Save all that for once outside the home. Trust me, I have first-hand experience at this!

Do you have something you’d like to add to this conversation?

 

©DGKaye2020

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

51 Comments

  • Toni Pike

    Hi Debby, Thanks for all these great tips and thoughts. I must admit that I just had to google to find out who Alexa is – I must lead a very sheltered life. I totally agree with you, I find all these intrusions quite overwhelming, and don’t want a bot doing everything for me. I’ll be apartment-hunting soon, so I’ll watch out for hidden cameras. Toni x

    • dgkaye

      Good for you Toni, not knowing who Alexa is tells me you don’t dive into every available gadget. And as far as apartment hunting – there’s a good chance you won’t know you’re being videoed as people can activate their cameras through their phones while away from home. My advice would be just as I wrote – save all personal and money concerns when out of the place you’re looking at. And good luck! <3

  • Hugh W Roberts

    I get where you’re coming from, Debby. However, I think sometimes fault also has to lay with us. I’m always amazed by how much information people give away on their blogs and websites. From dates of birth (when announcing a birthday as a milestone) to email addresses and phone numbers – I’ve seen it all. The spambots have a field day on gathering all that type of information. We have to be so careful not only with what technology we use but also with what information we willingly give out to strangers who may stumble upon our blogs and websites.

    Your post acts as a great reminder to us all.

    • dgkaye

      Absolutely Hugh. And perhaps because our generation is so aware of the invasion of privacy, because the generations after us were born into this digital world, as we have been the ones to watch it evolve. 🙂 x

  • Norah Colvin

    I agree with you, Debby. There is little privacy any more and it is important for us to do what we can to protect that little we have. I was amused earlier this year when we Australians were asked by the government to download a Covid app for tracing purposes. Many objected to it as an invasion of privacy. Most of those people would have given little thought to the way they are being constantly tracked by Google on their phones and other digital devices. They take the convenience it offers for granted and don’t think about what they have lost in the process. Unless they had turned location and tracking off, as you suggested, their concerns were rather impotent.

    • dgkaye

      That’s today’s world Norah, anything automatic, but no. If we don’t draw lines, neither will the makers of all these privacy invasion newfangled gadgets. 🙂 x

  • Jane Sturgeon

    I’m with you, my unicorn buddy, as I won’t have an Alexa or equivalent in my home. I find myself going back to simple things, more and more. A friend sent me a book as a present this morning and as I held it in my hands, I felt joy. I am making things with my hands and the joyful energy this creates is also heartfelt. I restrict the time I spend on technology and Sundays are my day to not go anywhere near it. I turn off my Inbox when I am writing or working and have designated times on social media. Straight in and out. All these choices are not directly related to privacy, but I hope that by managing my time I can reduce the invasion. If that makes sense? Much love flowing to you, always and thank you for this post. <3 Xxx <3

    • dgkaye

      I love your protocol Uni Jane :). It’s just too easy to get lost in it all isn’t it? Discipline is key. And as for Alexa, we can both do without her lol. Hugs and love your way and thanks for chiming in. <3 xoxox

  • Marian Beaman

    I know my footprint and fingerprints are all over cyberspace too. However, I do turn off my internet all night long and during the day when I’m gone for an extended bit.

    Also, I try to remember this when I make purchases: Go to Firefox (or other browser that has a private viewing feature) before I shop for certain items or use my credit card. Maybe that won’t “cure” all problems with privacy, but at least I can’t be followed by a website’s “cookies” to tempt me with other goodies, an annoyance.

    Great advice here, Debby!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Marian for sharing your good tips. As far as when making purchases online, my antivirus software has a program where I click on it and a lone encrypted page opens up (like a bank) for secure purchasing. 🙂 x

  • Jim Borden

    it is true that there is the potential to be monitored quite frequently by digital devices. But I have found the perfect solution. My life is so boring that such devices would soon give up tracking me, realizing there is no value to be gained from doing so 🙂

    Great point about viewing a home for sale; if you are the seller, it seems like a pretty good strategy…

  • Carol

    Good article, Debby…I always turn my devices off when I am away and also browse privately now ..its quite scary really as we don’t realise how much info is unwittingly stored about us…I don’t want Alexa either or voice recognition which is what Aston uses to sign in…its accepted quite freely by the younger generation.

  • Amy M Reade

    I laughed out loud at Jim’s comment. I feel the same way–boring is good! This scary post is a good reminder that we’re being watched everywhere we go, and not just at home. We’re watched as we drive, as we shop for groceries, and almost everywhere else we happen to stroll. Your words about home-hunting bring to mind the times I’ve stayed in an Airbnb or VRBO property. I shudder to think that we might be spied on while we’re in those places, too.

    • dgkaye

      LOl Amy, I agree about Jim, he’s so funny! But yes, I thought I’d put a reminder about how we are ‘never alone’ when it comes to digital devices on or around us – anywhere! Heck, sometimes I worry about a spy cam in public bathrooms! And good point about VRBO et el rentals, absolutely bank on being spied on! It’s just awful! We must stay diligent. <3

  • sally cronin

    Another excellent post Debby and a reminder to us all.. Our GPS is off in our phones. I don’t have any apps and certainly not having an Alexa in the house.. If a parrot can buy with their own account and card then anything can happen.. I am horrified at how quickly I have mentioned on FB that I have bought something and get adverts for a similar product. They only send me age appropriate ads these days so they know my birthday alright..a very serious issue that people need to wake up to… ♥♥ Will reblog for Saturday…

    • dgkaye

      Thank you my Lovely Sal. I have no doubts about you and your good security habits. And of course you had me cracking up about the parrots – hard to forget that video LOLOL. Thank you as always Sal for sharing. <3 xxx

  • Pete Springer

    Excellent post, Debby! I’m getting more in the “invasion of privacy camp,” although I share some of Jim’s feelings, too. My life isn’t that exciting, but do I want to be bothered by annoying phone calls and advertisements based on my browsing history? I think that’s where I start to think, “It’s too much.” Then I’ll read about some crime getting solved because of the use of technology, and I think, “Thank God!” In typical Springer fashion, I can see both sides of the issue.

    • dgkaye

      So true Pete, technology is a wonderful thing for so many things in life, but because of the greedies and evils have found methods to exploit through doing so. We must exercise caution, but we couldn’t do without it. 🙂

  • Leonard Stevens

    Great points! It’s easy to forget (or not realize) how much information we put out there on a daily basis. Not to mention how often we are on cameras in public places- I believe that CCC’s are more common in the UK, but the trend is rising in other countries.

    I still have a flip phone, or as some call it, a dumb phone. I only use it for talk and text.

    It reminds me of a poem that I wrote. Here is a section:

    I remember when I had to be home
    for someone to reach me
    Now I am always within grasp
    And even though I turn it off, it angers me
    that I feel uncomfortable
    And when I leave it at home
    I feel naked
    There was a time when people would talk
    using their mouths and eyes
    Not letters, or symbols
    And looked at the people they were with

    In the end, you just have to make sure that you only put out there what you want people to see. Or to put it another way, if you don’t care if people see what kind of underwear you have, by all means, dry it on the line in the front yard or off that balcony. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hi Leonard. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your poem, it certainly hits the mark! My husband has that same flip phone and never learned about texting, lol, I like it that way. 🙂

  • Adele Marie Park

    I agree, sis and don’t and will not have an Alexa in the house. I get fed up with the amount of adds that somehow represent products I’ve looked at on the web, clothing companies are the worst. <3

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    So agree with your thinking here Debby and ever since I had a lap top with a camera already installed I have had the lens taped up.. with some masking tape, the microphone is turned off and some metallic tape also taped over it..One of my friends said that is a little silly … as if someone would take a picture without our knowledge..
    But that is what exactly happened… a year ago…
    After a Microsoft update I turned on my laptop and just after it loaded the light of the camera spot shone through the masking tape…. as if a snapshot was taken… Moments later I get a message via my computer to say my Camera is not working please connect…. I ignore it…
    I often get these messages saying my camera requires attention…. So the Bots are busy …..

    I know I give loads of information about myself on line…. we all do…. My son has an Alexa…. and they use it to turn on lights tv etc…. Crazy….
    We were house sitting the other day waiting for some roofing equipment to arrive.. Both my hubby and I were sat quietly reading… When the Fire TV Amazon on his TV was turned on… Which really spooked hubby and I and made us jump.. I then get a text from my Son saying he had turned on the TV remotely from miles away at his place of work so we could watch TV…. To the younger generation who are ‘programmed’ with it, they see no harm…. But only Time will tell, if these Eyes now watching will suddenly switch Every-thing OFF… Including our access to our banks via our digital footprints…. Control and freedoms are crossing some FINE Lines… right now…

    Love and Blessings Debby and a great thought provoking post.. <3
    Love Sue <3

    • dgkaye

      Wow Sue. First of all, holy smokes. You actually saw your camera flash from behind the tape, is just scary. And yes, the fact that everything pertinent in our lives is entwined with online is scary, like medical information and banking. I’ve lost count through the years how many warning emails I’ve gotten from medical labs and such informing they’ve been hacked, please change your passwords just to be safe. Truly scary stuff. And your son seems deeply connected to the digital world. If that TV went on out of the blue, it would have scared the crap out of me. LOL. Hugs and blessings back to you Sue. We must keep ‘our eyes’ opened. Stay safe! <3 xoxo

  • Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Debby – it’s not easy is it … I rarely carry my phone about with me … I don’t have Alexa and always turn the machine off when I go out … I hardly use FB. I do understand the worries …

    I read a piece on someone being tracked by her ex – even though he’d left home … he’d linked all the home devices so he could check in all the time … it was the WEP ‘Caged Bird’ one back in June 2019.

    My sister in law ages ago (ten – 12 years ago or more) had said … don’t use gmail if pos … but if you’re normal and not really doing anything I just keep an eye out for anything unusual.

    Quite right to bring this up … in today’s age – all the best – Hilary

    • dgkaye

      Hi Hilary. Thanks for joining in the conversation. I’d heard the same about gmail, that’s how Google tracks everything. And I HATE the predictive suggestions! Don’t tell me what I want to say! As far as those trackers go. You reminded me about a girlfriend I once had who used to phone me complaining about her partner that always cheats on her. She’d call to complain to me, but wasn’t interested in advice and is still with him! She set up a tracker on his phone and knows where he is all the time. How sick is that? If you have to track your partner because he’s a no good lying cheat, what the hell are you still doing there? Takes all kinds! 🙂 xx

  • Pamela

    Great ideas and conversation here Deb. I feel exactly the same way you do about Alexa. No way no how. A couple days ago I was out working in my front yard and heard this horrible buzzing sound. I looked above me and there was a drone that hovered over me and my home and the homes nearby for over 10 minutes. Privacy deleted. I hated it! I wanted to call the police about it but I guess it’s legal. And what about those cookies?? 🤔🤨

    • dgkaye

      Exactly Pam! And I hear more and more companies will be using drones! We are all living in Orwellian times! Delete the cookies often! 🙂 Have to stay above the spies. 🙂 xx

  • John Maberry

    I’m with you–no Alexa in this house. No Bixby, no OK Google either. Don’t use Smart TV apps–maybe we would if we ever get to streaming, sigh! Don’t have GPS turned on on the phone. Still am using Google search engine but occasionally do Incognito, use the adblocker and block 3rd party cookies. Wish I could block ads on the phone! Maybe I need to look at that one–perhaps there’s one out there.

  • Rob Goldstein

    It’s not paranoia to recognize that without strict oversight our data can be used as a weapon against us. Anyone who doubts that can look at the devastation of the United States of what can happen a nation when it’s people are psychologically profiled on Facebook, locked into virtual rooms, and fed a steady diet of lies specifically designed to appeal to their worst impulses. We need to lobby our governments to regulate social media platforms the way we should regulate any public utility. On a funny note, I always have to agree to this when I leave a comment on your blog: By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      You aren’t getting any argument from me on that, sadly, Rob. And how many times have the Jack from Twitter and Zuck from Facebook been called to congress for questioning? A few over the the last few years, and zippo comes from the denials in question about their rules of engagement. Also, I’m sorry about the form, you know from seeing it on many blogs, we don’t have a choice but to add that stupid form that comes with the GDPR guideline rules with WordPress self-hosted. 🙂

  • Diana Peach

    I don’t mind the camera on a street corner or in a store, Debbie, and honestly don’t blame home-owners for wanting to monitor home buyers in their homes, but the invasion of privacy in my own home… that drives me nuts. The camera on my laptop is covered, but I hadn’t thought to turn off the microphone. I should just do it since I rarely use it. Sigh. Thanks for the tips and reminders. 😀

  • Stevie Turner

    Alexas listen to your conversation- there was a TV programme about it recently. One couple asked for a print out of what they had asked it to do, and all their private conversations were on it as well. x

  • Robbie Cheadle

    I know some of this and am glad to be made even more aware, Debby. It is awful to know we are being spied on, or there is the potential for us to be spied on, all the time. Thanks for this post.

  • Sharon Marchisello

    We have a friend who’s a quadriplegic and he uses Alexa, but I’d never have one in my house. My devices know too much about me as it is.
    When we were shopping for a new refrigerator, we saw one “smart” model that keeps track of your groceries and automatically alerts you or even re-orders when you’re low on something. Next thing you know, it will be telling you what’s good for you and what’s not! I decided I didn’t need an appliance telling me what to eat.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for chiming in Sharon. Yes! I’ve seen those fridges and microwaves that also have talking features. No thanks! We must draw the line the somewhere! 🙂

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