We the Exploited: The U.S. Government Buys and Sells Its Citizens for Profit and Power
Americans have become easy prey for hackers, scammers, snitches, spies, and con artists.
But don’t be fooled into thinking the government is protecting you.
To the contrary, the U.S. government is selling us (or rather, our data) to the highest bidders.
By the way, those highest bidders also include America’s political class and the politicians aspiring to get elected or re-elected. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “If you have been to a political rally, a town hall, or just fit a demographic a campaign is after, chances are good your movements are being tracked with unnerving accuracy by data vendors on the payroll of campaigns.”
Your phones, televisions and digital devices are selling you out to politicians who want your vote.
“Welcome to the new frontier of campaign tech — a loosely regulated world in which simply downloading a weather app or game, connecting to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or powering up a home router can allow a data broker to monitor your movements with ease, then compile the location information and sell it to a political candidate who can use it to surround you with messages,” writes journalist Evan Halper.
In this way, “we the people” have been reduced to economic units to be bought, bartered and sold by all and sundry.
On a daily basis, Americans have been made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to navigate an increasingly technologically-enabled world.
Those intimate details, in turn, have become the building blocks of massive databases accessed by the government and its corporate partners in crime, vulnerable to data breaches by hackers, cyberattacks and espionage.
For years now, and with little real oversight or restrictions, the government has been compiling massive databases comprised of all manner of sensitive information on the citizenry.
Biographical information. Biometric information. Criminal backgrounds. Travel records.
There is not a single person in the U.S. who is not in some government database or another, and these databases are increasingly being shared between agencies, fusion centers, and the police.
The government has also, with little oversight and few guidelines, been adding to its massive trove of data on Americans by buying commercially available information (CAI) from third-party sources. As a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed:
“[Commercially purchased data] can reveal sensitive and intimate information about the personal attributes, private behavior, social connections, and speech of U.S. persons and non-U.S. persons. It can be misused to pry into private lives, ruin reputations, and cause emotional distress and threaten the safety of individuals. Even subject to appropriate controls, CAI can increase the power of the government’s ability to peer into private lives to levels that may exceed our constitutional traditions or other social expectations.”
In other words, this is the diabolically sneaky way in which the government is attempting to sidestep the Fourth Amendment, which requires that government agents have probable cause and a warrant before spying on Americans or searching and seizing their private property.
It’s bad enough that the government is building massive databases comprised of our personal information without our knowledge or consent, but then they get hacked and we suffer for it.
Earlier this year, for instance, several federal agencies, state governments and universities were targeted in a global cyberattack that compromised the sensitive data of millions of Americans.
Did that stop the government’s quest to keep building these databases which compromise our privacy and security? Of course not.
In fact, the government has also been selling our private information. According to Vice, Departments of Motor Vehicles in states around t
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