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Here Are The Electronics & Apps In Your Home That Secretly Monitor You & Map Your Home

From our cell phones to our smart TVs and everything in between, many of our electronics are collecting very specific data about us, our homes, and our personal preferences. A lot of companies are considering selling this information to third parties, which begs the question, when is this an invasion of privacy?

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In a world where electronics seem to drive our entertainment, it’s not uncommon to find numerous electronics and robots all over North American households. From cell phones to computers to smart TVs, they’re everywhere, and a lot of them are collecting very specific data about you, your home, and your personal preferences.

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So, which of your electronics are collecting data about you, and who has access to your personal, and perhaps sensitive information? Let’s take a look at a few of the common household or personal electronics that are spying on you.

Roomba (Electric Vacuum Cleaner)

Do you own one of these electric vacuum cleaners? Well, as it turns out, they’ve been collecting a little more than just dust. These little robot vacuums use advanced mapping technology to learn and collect data on the floor plans of consumers’ homes, which can then be sold or shared with companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon. More specifically, it’s anticipated that this data could be very helpful as smart homes become more common.

Given the current user terms, it’s likely all of this information ends up being sold to a third party, and consumers don’t even need to be notified.

“There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared,” Colin Angle, Chief Executive of iRobot, the producer of the Roomba, explained to Reuters.

If this type of information were sold to a third party, it would have enormous implications, especially when it comes to consumerism. For example, let’s say your Roomba takes note that your living room doesn’t have a side table or a sofa — you could see ads for these products popping up all over your social media and web browsers because the Roomba has shared this information with a third party. This type of data exchange could seriously fuel consumerism.

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Could insurance companies wrongfully use this data to get out of reimbursing people with content insurance? Could future home buyers lose control over who knows the specific layout of their homes? Could people use this information to hack into systems in order to rob houses more efficiently? The possibilities are endless, and although there could be advantages to sharing this information, there are some significant risks as well.

Albert Gidari, Director of Privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, explained: “[The Supreme Court has held that Americans have] a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home. Once your home is turned inside out, does that reasonable expectation of privacy dissipate?”

Smart TVs

Smart TVs are pretty great; they’re super convenient because they connect to your Wifi instantaneously, allowing you to watch Netflix or connect to the internet via your television immediately. However, they can also be used to collect data on you in some fairly unexpected ways.

For example, a new technology called TVision Insights was recently launched, allowing companies to monitor TV watchers’ viewing habits. This means that they can literally watch you as you watch TV, and the technology even records data on where your eyes are looking, when you’re distracted, and what emotions you’re conveying.

The device’s sensors can record minute shifts in all of the people in the room. The company then matches those viewing patterns to shows and commercials using technology that listens to what is being broadcast on the TV. This technology is very new and is only being used in about 7,500 homes in a test run, which you can read more about in our CE article here.

This isn’t the first example of surveillance through TVs, and it probably won’t be the last. In early 2015, Samsung released a statement warning customers that their Smart TVs were capable of listening to and recording conversations.

These TVs have voice recognition software, but this fancy piece of technology comes at a price, and that price is a complete and utter violation of privacy. Samsung actually warned its customers not to have important conversations or disclose personal information in front of their Smart TVs because the audio can be recorded and then transmitted to unidentified third parties.

Samsung’s privacy policy in regards to the TV actually reads: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

You can read more about the Samsung controversy in our CE article here.

Vizio TVs were also found to record people, but the company had to pay $2.2 million to settle charges for collecting and selling footage from millions of TVs without the knowledge or consent of its viewers. This is a pretty fair settlement given the fact that they had sold 11 million of these smart TVs. One can only imagine how many people were directly affected by this.

Although Vizio never publicly identified the companies they sold their data to, the FTC claimed that it included personal information like “sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, homeownership and household value.”

Google 

This may not come as a surprise given the scope of the company, but Google is secretly recording pretty much everything you do if you keep a cell phone on you, from the conversations you have using your phones to the texts/videos you send. Plus, Google is literally tracking your every move.

So, how is one company collecting all of this data?

First of all, all of your search history is stored. Can you imagine looking through every single thing you’ve ever looked up on Google? Well, it’s a possibility! Google also takes note of where you look up all of this information. So, if you’re Googling something on your phone or laptop, Google knows where you are. Likewise, it can then use this information to understand how your interests relate to where you are at a given moment. However, Google probably knows where you are anyways if you use Google Maps.

You could literally read all of the texts you sent years ago, and even listen to the conversations you’ve had. Not only is that creepy in general, but it’s also a huge violation of privacy if this information is ever actually viewed by anyone else but you.

You can read more about that in our CE article here.

Playstation

Playstation represents yet another Sony product that can record what you’re doing. While using your device, Playstation records and monitors all of your activity while using it. People will often converse over these machines and Playstation can collect data and generate information on your personal preferences.

Although this is not as concerning as many of the other electronics that monitor your activity, people have still raised some concerns over privacy. These concerns mainly stem from the fact that Playstation 4 uses voice commands, so they are literally listening to you even when you’re not using your headset to speak to other players.

Snapchat

In all honesty, I love Snapchat. I actually run CE’s snapchat account, so give us a follow (@cevolution)! However, Snapchat now has location settings that allow you to share your location with friends at all times. This of course means that Snapchat knows your location as long as you have your phone on you, although your location is updated only when you have your Snapchat open.

Your “Snap Map” is enabled at all times, unless you’ve turned it off (which is called Ghost Mode). It allows all of your Snapchat friends to see where exactly you are located, even if that means your precise home address. It’s so advanced that it can even tell when you’re driving in a car or in an airplane.

For example, your Snap Map could look like this, allowing you to see where all of your friends are:

Pokémon Go 

Last summer, this smartphone game took the world by storm, and it was pretty creepy. I remember walking through a park and seeing at least 50 people on their phones playing Pokémon Go because the park had a high amount of Pokémons these players were intent on finding. Instead of looking at their beautiful surroundings of gardens and trees, they had their heads buried in their phones; it was almost eery.

The goal of the game is to track and find Pokémon, but ironically, the game actually tracks you as well. In the fine print people usually skip over prior to using an app, Pokémon Go specifically states that users are sharing their locations, storage, photos, and cameras with the company and that they reserve the right to collect and share that data with third parties, including potential buyers and the government.

If iOS users log in through their Google account, they’re sharing that information with the creators of Pokémon Go, essentially handing over pretty much all information related to your Google account, including your Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, and more. If you sign in using your Facebook account, the app can collect information from that, too.

It’s easy to imagine how this app could completely violate users’ privacy, and how easy it is for people to blindly trust companies. Is one game really worth sacrificing your privacy? Obviously that’s up for interpretation based on each individual, but it’s certainly something to consider.

Final Thoughts

In many ways, collecting this data could benefit us. There’s no debating the convenience of Google Maps or Happy Cow — sometimes it’s best that our electronics know our locations and understand our preferences. However, there’s clearly a line that can be crossed here, and it’s our jobs to define where exactly the divide between right and wrong lies.

When is it okay to share this information with others, and when does it become an invasion of privacy? We need to determine this ourselves, rather than allowing corporations to do so for us.

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The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

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Serious Errors Found In Widely Cited Global Warming Study

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A study claiming that the Earth’s oceans have retained 60% more heat than previously thought over the last 25 years, suggesting global warming was much worse than previously believed, has turned out to be false.

  • Reflect On:

    Many scientists within the field have been quite outspoken about the politicization of climate science, and how it's a serious problem. We see it in all fields, like the medical field, for example. Ridicule has been used to suppress discussion.

There is a troubling trend among internet readers, and that’s the fact that billions of people area reading titles of an article and having a bad reaction before reading the actual article and examining the sources. The bad reaction usually comes when evidence is presented which strongly goes against the widely accepted belief held by the majority of people. This type of evidence is often ridiculed by the mainstream media, which is why the majority of people believe what they do in the first place.

We have been subjected to massive amounts of ‘mind-persuasion’ on various topics. Today, when evidence goes against the grain, especially when it threatens many political and financial interests, false evidence is manufactured in order to counter the actual evidence. This has happened in all areas that touch humanity. I refer to it as the politicization of science, in this case, climate science. We’ve seen this everywhere, especially with medical science.

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. . . . Science has taken a turn towards darkness.” – Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief of The Lancet (source)

Now, just to be clear, this article is NOT debating climate change. Drastic and unexpected climate change and natural disasters are rampant right now on our planet, for multiple reasons. It’s clearly a problem that needs to be fixed and could have been fixed/mitigated decades ago, yet we still seem stuck. Revolutionary technologies have been in existence for a long time, from solar, to wind, to vortex-induced vibrations and over-unity energy technology. Many of them have been subjected to patent suppression and secrecy, for “natural security” purposes. Meanwhile, it’s this national security apparatus that have created a breakaway civilization, one that’s become highly technologically advanced. They use these technologies, not for the benefit of humanity, but it seems more so, for their own purposes and the enslavement of humanity.

All that being said, climate change is, in my opinion, the result of multiple factors that go beyond human beings. These include natural cycles Earth has gone through before in it’s past, the activity of our sun, etc…

Again, I am not denying climate change, I am not even denying anthropomorphic climate change. I’m simply pointing towards the politicization of science. Something fishy is happening.

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In fact, approximately more than thirty thousand scientists have all signed a petition regarding the political agenda of global warming. The scientific consensus, which includes over 9,000 scientists with Ph.D.s, is the real scientific consensus. There is no real source for the “97” percent of scientists agreeing, that’s false information.

Warmer Oceans?

Princeton scientist Laure Resplandy (pictured above) and researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently published a study claiming that the Earth’s oceans have retained 60% more heat than previously thought over the last 25 years, suggesting global warming was much worse than previously believed. The reported was beamed out by multiple establishment mouthpieces, including the Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, Reuters and others.

Independent scientist Nic Lewis found the study had “apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.” Lewis’ findings were quickly corroborated by another researcher. The post appeared on the website of Judith A. Curry, an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has been one of the many outspoken scientists in the field the “tribal nature” of parts of the climate-science community, and what she sees as stonewalling over the release of data and its analysis for independent review.

Lewis corrected the math area, and found that the paper’s rate of ocean warming “is about average compared with other estimates they showed, and below the average for 1993-2016.” Roger Pike Jr., a Professor at the University of Colorado, tweet his work and replicated the data. Key phrase: “It’s a big error at the core of the paper’s findings.”

It seems that the majority of climate scientists all support this type of fraudulent data, and the problem of political interests taking over what the science is actually saying.

Lewis found the study’s authors, led by Princeton University scientist Laure Resplandy, erred in calculating the linear trend of estimated ocean warming between 1991 and 2016. Lewis has also criticized climate model predictions, which generally over-predict warming. Resplandy and her colleagues estimated ocean heat by measuring the volume of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere. The results: the oceans took up 60 percent more heat than previously thought. The study only sent alarm bells ringing, especially in the wake of the United Nations’ latest climate 

Laure Resplandy, the author of the widely distributed and cited study, has recently replied, acknowledging the error. Although the reply comes from an establishment mouthpiece, one that ridicules any questioning of anthropomorphic climate change via carbon output.

Below is a brief interview with Curry.

The Politicization Of Climate Science

Again, we need to be looking at deforestation, the lack of disclosure of new energy technologies, and the lack of implementation of new ones. We need to be looking at the destruction of our Earth and the poisoning of our water and soil, more so than we do our carbon output. But carbon is very heavily focused on.

The politicization of climate science is something that’s vouched for by the majority of actual climate scientists.

It’s hard to talk about because I am a proponent of clean energy technologies, and they are a must. Our industries and our usage of pollution services, like the automobile industry, is a toxic and environmental health hazard. But the global elite are very smart, they are using climate change, and global warming, to basically cause climate hysteria for political and financial gains.

The “97 percent” tagline is often used to demonize those who question anthropogenic induced climate change, and the mainstream media will do their best to make those who question it, no matter their background, credentials, or credibility, look foolish.

Ivar Giaever, a Norwegian-American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973, compares current climate science to pseudoscience.

Dr. Richard Lindzen, among many others, refers to this type of narrative as hysteria and argues that climate scientists raising this issue have been demonized. He’s one of the world’s top experts in the field and lead author of “Physical Climate Processes and Feedbacks,” Chapter 7 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report on climate change.

He is a  dynamical meteorologist with interests in the broad topics of climate, planetary waves, monsoon meteorology, planetary atmospheres, and hydrodynamic instability. He has made major contributions to the development of the current theory for the Hadley Circulation and pioneered the study of how ozone photochemistry, radiative transfer, and dynamics interact with each other. He is also the Emeritus Sloan Professor of Meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A slide from one of his lectures below states:

Global warming is about politics and power rather than science. In science, there is an attempt to clarify; in global warming, language is misused in order to confuse and mislead the public. The misuse of language extends to the misuse of models. For advocated of policies allegedly addressing global warming, the role of models is not to predict but rather to justify the claim that catastrophe is possible. As they understand, proving something to be impossible is itself almost impossible.

I am using him as one of many examples. pointed out how policymakers were heavily involved with the IPCC and their publications. He is one of many to do so. Here’s a video in which he did try to bring awareness to what climate scientists REALLY believe. It’s quite contrary to the climate hysteria we see that’s constantly beamed. Right now it’s happening with forests fires, which have been happening for hundreds of millions of years.

Why No Mention of Climate Engineering?

What about climate engineering? Geoengineering is the manipulation of the atmosphere through artificial means.

The US Air Force has the capability to manipulate climate either for testing purposes or for outright military-intelligence use.  These capabilities extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts, and earthquakes.

Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence  purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, … and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in US, or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power. (Air University of the US Air Force, AF 2025 Final Report, http://www.au.af.mil/au/2025/ . Emphasis added)

We’ve covered this topic in depth in multiple articles, and right now, geoengineering is being proposed as a solution to climate change, or what scientists above mentioned as ‘climate hysteria.’ The weather today is largely manufactured and owned, it’s changed and manipulated for various reasons. It’s hard to tell what’s actually going on. Here’s a clip of Ex-Cia director voicing his support for geoengineering…

Climate hysteria can be created, as much as terrorism can in order to create the war on terrorism…

The Takeaway

You could literally write a book on how the majority of reputable scientists within the field of Climate Science, and the ones actually involved with the IPCC, are all concerned about these things. As many of these scientists have pointed out, at a certain point, the final drafts and publications are taken over and written by politicians and policymakers.

There is a big problem here, and the elite who seem to be behind this type of thing, have been using their tools for years (mass media, education, etc..) to drill this idea in the people’s heads. Climate initiatives are being supported like war was with mass propaganda, our hearts and care for Mother Earth are being taken advantage of and capitalized on. Those who question the official narrative of global climate change are often the ones who care about Earth the most. This is one of the reasons it is so important for the awakening community to strive for the truth, and then to bring out that truth widely. The future of our planet hangs in the balance.

We Need Your Support...

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

SUPPORT CE HERE!

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CNN Takes Trump To Court: Is He Winning The War Against Fake News?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A heated exchange between Donald Trump and CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a White House Press Briefing has led to Acosta losing his press pass, accusations of video doctoring, and a lawsuit claiming White House violations of the 1st and 5th amendments.

  • Reflect On:

    Does this battle represent a flashpoint in the larger battle between the Alliance and the Deep State? If so, what is our role in this?

Once a model of journalistic integrity and governmental decorum, the White House press conference seems to have devolved into a verbal street brawl of mutual disrespect between President Donald Trump and Mainstream Media. But at a deeper level, it has become Ground Zero for the battle for our collective perception of reality.

The notion that Mainstream Media is in the business of ‘framing’ a perception of events to suit a particular agenda is something that the public is beginning to awaken to in larger numbers. Now this is not to say that the President does not frame a perception of events as well. We have long known that all politicians do this. The difference is that President Trump does it to look good, be popular, and ultimately to be able to do what he believes are positive things for American citizens. The agenda behind the Mainstream Media is the destruction of American sovereignty and the implementation of a global power structure of enslavement. If we look at the ‘Acosta Incident’ through this lens, then an understanding of exactly why this is happening at this time comes into focus.

The Acosta Incident

The ‘Acosta Incident’ essentially involves CNN Journalist Jim Acosta asking questions to President Trump, being told by the President that he is done with Acosta and is moving on to the next reporter, and Acosta resisting attempts on the part of a young White House intern to take the microphone from him, actually using his arm to physically impede her arm from reaching over to take the microphone. Here is a full video of the incident:

As we can see in the video, the journalists (not only Acosta but the subsequent one) are spending most of their airtime building a narrative, finishing their statements with a slanted yes/no question which they already know the answer to. They try to characterize a given situation (i.e. Acosta saying that the ‘caravan’ is not an ‘invasion’) and basically trying to refute the President’s characterization. There is no real attempt here to inquire, to get new information, to listen to what the President has to say. And of course the President also replies with his own narrative-building.

In a way, this has long been the dynamic in White House press conferences, but never in history have journalists tried to single-mindedly frame a narrative in such a combative way. No doubt one could look at Donald Trump’s direct assault on Mainstream news as ‘Fake News,’ it has added much fuel to the fire. Objectively speaking, though, it would be hard to argue that Jim Acosta has not crossed a line of propriety in physically restraining a young woman from taking the microphone from him at the President’s request.

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Sarah Sanders’ Tweet

It cannot come as a shock to the objective observer that the White House believes it had grounds to revoke Jim Acosta’s press pass. In this CNN article, which denies any wrongdoing on the part of CNN or any apology for Jim Acosta, we see the narrative-building verbiage in full regalia:

CNN said in a statement that Acosta has the network’s full support. The revocation of his pass “was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference,” the statement said. “In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better.”

I’m sorry–is there anybody reading this article that is buying the claim that the revocation of his pass “was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference.”? Wow, not even a MENTION of Acosta’s physical contact with the intern. A tweet by White House Press Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, without audio, makes graphically clear what the White House, and, it must be said, any objective observer, would highlight as the reason his pass was revoked:

Now as we will see, the ‘source’ of her video, which shows 4 consecutive close-ups to drive the point home, is notable. According to this Wired article,

The video posted by Sanders appears identical to a video shared two hours earlier by Paul Joseph Watson, an editor-at-large at the right-wing media site InfoWars. Both videos were edited in the same way and had no sound. While the White House hasn’t responded to inquiries about the source of the video posted by Sanders, it seems reasonable to say that the chance the two videos were created independently is extraordinarily low.

Claims The Video Was ‘Doctored’

Not long after the tweet, claims that the White House was using a ‘doctored’ video, or that they had ‘doctored’ it themselves, began to pop up widely across Mainstream Media. Video experts were being called on to explain a frame-dropping or frame-pausing technique that was said to have made Acosta’s wrist restraining the intern’s arm look more like a ‘karate chop.’ Here is one of many videos up now explaining this:

And here is Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson’s reaction to the claims that he doctored the video:

Even as a video editor myself, I don’t know whether this video was doctored or not. Either one of the arguments above seem to have some logic, and it would take me a lot more time and effort to get to the bottom of it, time and effort I certainly don’t want to spend. Why? Because it really doesn’t matter.

While it would be possible that Watson would go through the trouble of doctoring a video to have a slight, barely perceptible effect of seeming more aggressive, the fact of the matter is, as Watson points out in his video,

‘The media invented a giant conspiracy theory to distract from a real controversy…Sarah Sanders was right. Jim Acosta put his hands on a woman. He used his strength to overpower her, and that’s clearly seen in the video. Does that mean he assaulted her? No. It doesn’t. But he clearly used his hand, his wrist, and his arm to push her away…don’t take my word for it, go and watch the footage yourself and come to your own conclusions.’

CNN continues to reference Sanders’ tweet as ‘a distorted video clip of the press conference that didn’t show the complete back-and-forth. The same video had been posted by an InfoWars personality two hours earlier.’ To persuade those people who don’t investigate all the facts and rely on the validity of the narrative, these kinds of phrases and talking points are essential.

CNN Sues The White House

Now, it looks like the battle of narratives is headed for court. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the President and top aides for banning Acosta, believing his 1st and 5th amendment rights are being violated.

In an interview on Tuesday morning, [attorney Ted] Boutrous said CNN tried to resolve the matter privately, but the White House was not responsive so “we really had no choice but to sue.” “We didn’t want to have to go to court. We wanted to just report the news,” he said. “Mr. Acosta wants to report the news. CNN wants to report the news.”

If the full clip of Jim Acosta’s tactics and line of questioning are those of a journalist who ‘just wants to report the news,’ I must be missing something. Of course it should come as no surprise that CNN is using all of its rhetorical devices to characterize itself as the victim here. But more and more, those speaking on behalf of the Alliance are also firing up their rhetoric to continue to pound away at the ‘fake news’ characterization of mainstream media, trying to reveal to the public the hidden agenda behind machinations like those of Acosta. Here is the response of Sarah Sanders and the White House to the lawsuit:

“We have been advised that CNN has filed a complaint challenging the suspension of Jim Acosta’s hard pass. This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit.
CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment. After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions—each of which the President answered—he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.
The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional. The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”

This is an interesting fight in that it seems like a flash point whose outcome might indicate the relative strength of the two heavyweights, the Alliance fronted by Donald Trump, and the Deep State as mouthpieced by Mainstream Media. It’s hard to know who is more up for this battle, to be honest. It will be interesting to see how this particular battle plays out.

The Takeaway

As usual, our discernment is required for sifting through these battles of conflicting narratives. The more we are able to find where the truth lies, and the more people that gain this power of discernment, the less we will have to live through the drama that is playing out in front of us. Living our lives in truth is our ultimate destination.

We Need Your Support...

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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How Yahoo Hacked 3 Billion User Accounts & Caused A Global Health Hazard

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Yahoo holds the 3 time record for the largest cybersecurity breaches in history and is the first confirmed company to willingly agree to let the U.S. government scan and collect information from all users.

  • Reflect On:

    The potential stress that Yahoo and any big email service causes users by deliberately leaving personal data open to infiltration and why they don't implement encryption.

The cyber attacks on Yahoo occurred back in 2013 and 2014, but Yahoo first informed the public of these attacks in 2016 and 2017. All of their 3 billion users were affected, some of whom on two occasions, but in between these announcements, another revelation occurred. Incoming emails from all 3 billion Yahoo users’ accounts were also systematically scanned by the U.S. government in 2015. This time with Yahoo’s cooperation.

According to the World Health Organization:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The potential stress Yahoo may have caused any number of their 3 billion users around the world, as well as any number of non-Yahoo users who sent emails to Yahoo users, makes them a global public health hazard, but the mainstream narrative focused on Verizon consequently paying less to buy Yahoo, and CEO Marissa Mayer having to forfeit her annual bonus and stock award.

Yahoo announces the largest user data breach in history

Sept 2016 and Yahoo announced that “at least 500 million user accounts” had been hacked in 2014. Having retrieved names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, passwords and security questions and answers, it was hailed by the media as one of the largest cybersecurity breaches of all time. The company said they believed a “state-sponsored actor” was behind the data breach, meaning an individual acting on behalf of a foreign government.

Yahoo collaborates with U.S. government to spy on user emails

October 2016 and Reuters revealed that Yahoo users once again were having their emails accessed without their knowledge. This time by the U.S. government. The FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) approached Yahoo to build a custom software program to read all of their users’ incoming emails. The program was in operation by May 2015 and was designed to search for a specific string or digital ‘signature’. This could be a phrase in an email or an attachment. When that ‘signature’ was found, that email or attachment was then copied and sent to the relevant U.S. intelligence agency server.

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The program spied on every person who emailed a Yahoo! Mail account, implying every Yahoo! Mail user is guilty and violating the privacy of people around the world. Both Reuters and The New York Times stated that this is the first known case of a U.S. internet company agreeing to the systemic scanning of all arriving messages and real-time data collection at an intelligence agency’s request, as well as the first known time that a new program was created to do so.

Yahoo did not need to cooperate

The NSA and FBI used FISA to justify the global top-secret mass surveillance programs tracking foreign nationals and U.S. citizens revealed by Edward Snowdon in 2013; yet these programs remain unconstitutional – which means illegal. FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, can allow the secret national security court to issue an edict, but a specific target should be identified, and section 702 of FISA exclusively applies to agents of a foreign power located outside the USA.

“This is another example of how the government is pushing secretly novel or innovative interpretations of surveillance law” to conduct wiretapping in broader ways than the public realize, said Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.

“It is deeply disappointing that Yahoo declined to challenge this sweeping surveillance order, because customers are counting on technology companies to stand up to novel spying demands in court” Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Yahoo announces the (2nd) largest user data breach in history

Two months later, in December 2016, Yahoo announced they had discovered another major cyberattack had taken place in 2013. The Guardian explained that this second “state-sponsored” attack had affected more than 1 billion user accounts, making this one the “biggest data breach in history.”

Yahoo announces the (3rd) largest user data breach in history

October 2017 and Yahoo revealed that every one of their 3 billion accounts had been affected by the 2013 data theft, making this new number “the largest breach in history.”

This means that every Yahoo user’s account information was retrieved, and that means all of their services could have been accessed, including Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Groups, Flickr and Tumblr.

Although Yahoo claims neither of these attacks breached the system where user payment card and bank account details are stored, any private details found in every Yahoo user’s personal emails could have been collected.

“For years I have been urging friends and family to migrate off of Yahoo email, mainly because I watched for years as the company appeared to fall far behind its peers in blocking spam and other email-based attacks” states security researcher Brian Krebs.

Yahoo is responsible for jeopardizing their own users’ safety

March 2017 and Yahoo! disclosed the results of an internal investigation which found that CEO Marissa Mayer had reacted too slowly, other executives had “failed to act sufficiently” and the companies legal department had also been negligent. It was revealed that the company’s security team had identified that a hacker had accessed at least 500 million user accounts back in 2014, yet Yahoo chose to notify only 26 users.

In October 2017, when Yahoo announced that all 3 billion of their users were hacked in 2013, the company said they will begin alerting accounts. They also stated that “in connection with Yahoo’s December 2016 announcement of the August 2013 theft, Yahoo took action to protect all accounts.” The action that they took was to ask 1 billion of 3 billion affected users to change their passwords. This does not protect users from being hacked. All users had passwords before.

The Takeaway

The revelation that all 3 billion Yahoo users had been hacked by an alleged “state-sponsor actor” caused media outrage, two FBI investigations, and some 43 consumer class-action lawsuits against the company. The revelation that all 3 billion Yahoo users’ emails have also been unknowingly scanned systemically by the U.S. government warrants a similar reaction.

Yahoo’s cooperation was not necessary. The company could have contested the request to create a custom software program to spy on their own customers in court. Instead, Yahoo users were not only spied on in 2013 and 2014, but again in 2015, and all of their users were not informed until 2017, leaving the safety of millions then billions of users at jeopardy.

In 2018, Yahoo still state in their Privacy Policy that “Once you register with Yahoo and sign in to our services, you are no longer anonymous.” The only way any big email service like Yahoo! Mail, Gmail or Apple Mail can successfully protect your personal data and online privacy as an internet user is by encryption as standard.

The only reason big companies do not want to do this is because they want to have access to your personal information. The solution is simple. Choose a different narrative to the ongoing infiltration of your personal and private information.

Cybersecurity is available to everyone, and it starts with a simple-to-use encrypted email account elsewhere, such as Tutanota or Protonmail.

Article by Wake Up World Education founder, Robito Chatwin.

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