5 Ways You're Secretly Being Monitored
It's so easy to tune out the crazy bloggers and Alex Jones types, screaming that the NWO is watching your every move. After all, these guys are paranoid about everything, all the time, so there's probably nothing to it. Right?
Well, whether or not there is actually a massive room full of government operatives monitoring everything you say or type, you are being tracked. Whether it's done in the name of theft prevention or stopping terrorism, basically nothing you do - nothing - is a secret any more.
Who do you have to thank for that? How about...
Public Transit Audio Surveillance
You roll over at 10:47am to see that you've overslept and, shit, you're late for work! You spring out of bed, slather on enough deodorant to substitute for showering and hustle to catch your bus to work. After all, those fries aren't going to supersize themselves.
You just barely make the bus, plop down and start venting to anyone who will listen about how much you hate modern technology and the fact that it must be a government conspiracy that makes your alarm clock suck balls. We've all been there. Good thing the government boogeymen didn't hear it, right?
Little Did You Know...
Having decided that the rambling nonsense of people on buses is a major security issue--which it is, assuming your average bus passenger works for Cobra Commander or some shit--cities around the U.S. have installed surveillance equipment in their buses.
A study back in 2001 found 80 percent of the transit agencies surveyed had some kind of surveillance in place, including closed circuit TV cameras and separate audio recording.
Keep in mind, this was in 2001, not even close to the height of post-9/11 paranoia. Cost was the biggest factor (Chicago spent more than $3 million to put the equipment in their 300-plus city buses) and of course the cost of the technology only goes down every year.
The practice has been found to be perfectly legal (a bus or a train is a public place, so all bets are off). So everything you say to the guy sitting next to you, what materials you were reading, whether or not you picked your nose- all recorded for posterity. Even everything you say into your end of a cell phone call.
Hell, what's next? They listen in on your cell phone, too?
Remote Cell Phone Tapping
If you don't have a cell phone, you're probably living in a time where the Internet doesn't exist, so how the hell are you reading this? Get out of here before you fuck up the space-time continuum!
And since the entire modern world relies on these things for their voice communication, they must be nice and secure, right?
Little Did You Know...
The odds are very good that at least some of you reading this right now have already had your phone remotely tapped.
How does it happen? Covert government spying programs? Nefarious groups of teenage computer hackers? Yep, probably. But anyone else can do it too! It's as simple as downloading widely available software from the Internet. At that point, anyone who has your phone in their possession can tap it in less time than it'll take you to notice you don't have it in your pocket.
Even better, you don't even have to be on the phone for them to listen in! This software allows someone to remotely turn on the microphone function of your phone even when you're not using it.
So not only can they eavesdrop on the depressing phone sex you're having with your long distance girlfriend, they can even listen in while you bang the chick you're cheating on her with and send her the audio via text message. Awkward!
Law enforcement agencies are even developing a method of implanting this software on phones wirelessly, with the software being delivered and installing itself via text message. Because surely that's not a technology anyone would ever want to abuse or exploit.
But this is all just a paranoid hypothetical, right? After all, why would anyone even want to listen to your calls? Well, one study estimates around three percent of phones in the U.S. are already tapped, and up to five percent in parts of Europe.
PC Printer Tracking
If you work in an office setting, soul crushing or otherwise, you've almost certainly used a printer at some point. And if you're reading this at work instead of, you know, working, you've probably printed something less than business-like on the company dime; your fantasy football roster or a stack of fliers for that underground donkey show you're promoting perhaps. It's not like anyone's gonna find out, right?
Little Did You Know...
Have you heard of ECHELON? If not, don't worry. It's just a global network of computers. Nothing scary about that. After all, that's kind of what the Internet is, and what's scary about the Internet except fucking everything? But where the Internet is terrifying in a tentacle porn/endless stream of Pedobear memes kind of way, ECHELON is terrifying in that it monitors your e-mail, phone records and Web surfing on behalf of several world governments, all in the interest of, supposedly keeping tabs on potential terrorists and other assorted criminal masterminds.
What does this have to do with you and your donkey show, you ask? Well, whatever intergalactic team of anal probe wielding space dwellers created ECHELON also came up with a way to embed every piece of paper that goes through a laser jet printer with a microscopic code that identifies the specific printer that the paper came from.
This is fucking ECHELON, by the way.
Granted, this code can only be seen with the aid of blue lights and magnifiers, but still, someone can read it. Companies including Xerox, Dell, Canon, Lexmark and others have all begun installing this technology. So when it comes time to type up your manifesto, probably best to do it from somebody else's desk.
So you're in your local Wal-Mart perusing the razor blades and such on the off chance that at some point you might actually need to shave. You decide, "Ah, fuck it" and go ahead and buy yourself a Mach 3 because you think it'll look good on your shelf at home in the even more off chance that a girl stops by. This can't possibly have shit to do with Big Brother watching you, right?
Little Did You Know...
Among manufacturing giants and superstores, RFID chips are all the rage. But what's an RFID chip? Radio frequency identification chips are microscopic devices that can be implanted into pretty much any and everything you buy, from the wrapper on your Snickers bar to the bottle of hooch you brown bag it with on Friday afternoons.
The purpose of these RFID chips is to allow retailers to keep track of what products have been sold as opposed to what has been shoplifted and sold for crank money on eBay. So if you feel like boosting a copy of the latest High School Musical soundtrack (for your little sister, of course), keep in mind that it can be tracked and your humiliating taste in music will be made public in the police blotter.
Now, supposedly, RFID chips will become inactive after you've left the store when they're turned off at the cash register. That's provided you remember to tell the cashier to turn the chip off, thereby extending the checkout process by approximately 17 hours. Forget to do that, and the tag could potentially be tracked anywhere.
And the best part? There's no way of knowing what products have RFID chips and which don't. Thank God we get our porn online, where... oh, wait. ECHELON.
The Total Information Awareness Program
You've got a busy day ahead of you! After you send a few emails and max out your credit card ordering the Gilmore Girls season three DVD, you still have to head to an ATM to get some cash for your night on the town, which basically consists of drinking yourself stupid and passing out alone. Right about now you're probably asking yourself, "All right, Cracked, during which of these activities was someone spying on me?"
The answer is... all of them. Well, except passing out alone, unless you've got a roommate, in which case a photo of your face adorned with Sharpie drawn penises is probably being uploaded to Buzzfeed as we speak.
Little Did You Know...
The Total Information Awareness Project tracks your daily electronic transactions looking for patterns to emerge. This helps the government determine whether you're just a run-of-the-mill porn loving pervert or a porn loving pervert terrorist!
And what dastardly technology does the Pentagon rely on to watch its citizens? Well, you're using it right now. Pretty much everything you do, from the Pussycat Dolls songs you buy to the chest waxing bills you pay to the demoralizing dating profile you fill out, is now done online. These giant networks of computers all connected to the World Wide Web make it a whole lot easier for the feds to watch every little thing you do.
DARPA, the government agency that created the Total Information Awareness Project, is fully aware that in the hands of human analysts, the access to all of these records could very easily be abused. So, some parameters have been proposed that would put the power to red flag someone in the hands of the machines.
See, that was the problem in Orwell's book. There, it was evil humans tracking your every move. It's not so bad knowing it's a series of unfeeling, completely impartial computer networks.
Have an idea for an article? Think you're funny? Just go here and sign up. No experience necessary.
And to fuel your conspiracy-addled mind even further, check out 7 Insane Conspiracies That Actually Happened and The Shady Agendas Behind 5 Popular Conspiracy Theories.
And stop by our Top Picks to see the pictures we hacked from your cell phone yesterday.