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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)
Grant R. Jeffrey is the internationally known prophecy researcher, Mideast expert, and author of Countdown to the Apocalypse, The New Temple and the Second Coming, The Next World War, and twenty other best-selling books. He is also the editor of the Prophecy Study Bible. His popular television program, Bible Prophecy Revealed, airs weekly on TBN. Jeffrey earned his master’s and PhD degrees from Louisiana Baptist University. He and his wife, Kaye, live in Toronto.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
YOU HAVE NO MORE PRIVACY
In the War Against Privacy, You Are the Target
An undeclared but very real war is being waged on your privacy and freedom. Your movements, personal communications, preferences, loyalties, habits—all these things are no longer private. And in spite of the fact that our privacy and liberty are under attack on multiple fronts, the average citizen in the Western world seems blissfully unaware of the threat.
We assume that our privacy, “the right to be left alone,” is secure. We couldn’t be more wrong. High-tech surveillance methods used by governments responding to the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, tax evasion, and organized crime are stealing one of your most basic human rights—the right to privacy, the right to be left alone.
THE ALL-SEEING EYES
An interesting metaphor for the invasive surveillance society is found in a fascinating proposal for eighteenth-century prison reform. In 1785 philosopher and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham advocated that the English government build a state-of-the-art prison to more efficiently observe and guard dangerous prisoners with twenty-four-hour surveillance. Bentham’s proposed Panopticon prison called for the use of optical instruments and mirrors to allow a very small team of guards stationed in a central tower to observe hundreds of prisoners. Bentham’s system was designed in such a way that prisoners would never know when they were under active surveillance.
The idea was that the fear of continuous surveillance would motivate inmates to police their own behavior. Tragically, the practical application of Bentham’s nightmare vision is becoming reality in the twenty-first century. Advanced surveillance technologies available to government, corporations, and even your neighbors have created a twenty-four-hour, 365-day, total-surveillance society—the same system that would have violated the privacy of British prison inmates in 1785.
The current British home secretary, Jacqui Smith, exercises political control over all UK counterintelligence operations. This includes Scotland Yard’s
Counter Terrorism Command, the Security Service (MI5), and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British government’s global eavesdropping operation. Smith is working to establish an enormous computer database that would collect for analysis every telephone call, all Internet searches, and all e-mails being transmitted within or outside of the United Kingdom.1
Your Life on Camera
Smith’s plans are but one manifestation of the all-seeing, all-hearing surveillance. The installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places makes our daily activities, including our private interactions, a matter for close examination by unseen observers. My wife, Kaye, and I conducted a research trip in the United Kingdom in 2008. Although I had previously documented the massive adoption of CCTV by local councils and national authorities in the UK, I was stunned to see the extraordinary expansion of that type of surveillance. By the end of 2008, millions of CCTV cameras were monitoring the activities of every citizen and visitor in the country. The United Kingdom, the mother of Western political freedom and democracy, is now the most obsessively watched society in the West.
Surveillance cameras followed us during every step of our passage through UK customs and British immigration at Heathrow Airport. And it didn’t stop there. We were on camera as we acquired a car at the rental car agency office and as we proceeded out of the airport parking garage. As we entered the main highway, we noticed traffic-control cameras monitoring virtually every mile and covering every road, even in small towns. More than two thousand car-recognition cameras capture photos of cars, license plates, and drivers along with their passengers. Cameras recorded us as we purchased gas and food. Recent estimates by British authorities suggest that citizens and tourists alike will be captured on camera an average of five hundred times every day. Even London’s city buses are outfitted with an astonishing sixty thousand cameras, in addition to the ten thousand CCTV cameras on subway cars and trains.
But despite the almost universal presence of CCTV, even in back alleys, law enforcement authorities report that the cameras have not suppressed violent crime as much as they have displaced it. Surveillance cameras motivate criminals to move their activities a few blocks away—to a location with less-active CCTV surveillance.
A few years ago a million CCTV systems were operating in the United Kingdom. However, a 2008 article in the Guardian stated that an astounding 4.2 million CCTV cameras were being used in the surveillance of UK citizens and tourists.2
Cameras That Hear
It now goes far beyond simple cameras mounted on utility poles. Scientists have developed “listening” cameras that, paired with artificial intelligence software, recognize particular sounds such as gunshots, car crashes, and breaking glass. In response to certain sounds, the camera rotates and captures what could be a criminal or terrorist act. Despite the enormous financial cost and the invasiveness of the CCTV system, a report by the UK Home Office concluded that better street lighting is seven times more effective in preventing crime.
If watching you and listening to what you are saying is not enough, some new versions of CCTV technology enable police supervisors to confront you verbally through a speaker system. Law enforcement personnel can issue an immediate warning if they feel you are engaging in illegal behavior. And just in case all of this has not been disturbing enough for you, some UK municipalities are broadcasting local CCTV coverage on television. They ask citizens to tune in and watch so they can inform on the activities of their neighbors. Welcome to the world of block informers, a system you thought was limited to the horrors committed by the Nazis, the Soviets, and Communist China.
CCTV surveillance doesn’t end with cameras posted in public places. Miniature security cameras designed to promote safety and control crime on private property are now used for vastly expanded purposes. Companies use CCTV for the continual surveillance of employees during work-hours. They are observed at their desks, in washrooms, and throughout the office area. Employers justify the spying operations against employees, vendors, clients, customers, and visitors as a way to combat theft and industrial espionage. No matter what reasons are used to justify the surveillance, you are losing your privacy in just about every setting imaginable.
We live in a total surveillance environment that closely resembles the horror described by George Orwell in his famous novel 1984. Orwell described a future global regime composed of three totalitarian governments. In comparison to his horrific vision, computer technologies developed in the last few decades have created a daily environment far more threatening than any faced by the character Winston in 1984.
THEY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
The loss of privacy goes far beyond having your public activities monitored on camera. Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, declared some time ago that “privacy is dead, deal with it.”3
There are legal means that individuals and businesses can use to acquire and store information about you, obtained from your use of the Internet and even from such ordinary activities as shopping for groceries, buying a movie ticket, or ordering items online. You might think that you don’t provide information to governments, law enforcement agencies, and marketers. However, you are dispensing vast amounts of personal information every time you use a check, credit card, or debit card. Every time you make a purchase using these forms of payment, you supply information on your bank account, financial history, buying habits, and product preferences.
It seems that no information about you is insignificant. Your Internet searches, your online shopping, the e-mails you send, and the Web sites you access—all of these are of interest to someone. The subjects that attract you, the causes you support, your brand preferences, the topics you research on the Web, your reading habits online—all of these are important to Web site operators. Everything you do on the Internet, including visiting Web sites and chat rooms, sending and receiving e-mail, researching health issues and medical questions, and shopping is permanently recorded in a computer database. Google, the most popular Internet search engine, has admitted that it gathers and stores information on every one of the more than 330 million Internet searches completed every day.
What’s more, every e-mail you’ve ever sent or received and all the online searches you have completed are available to police and intelligence agencies. Who is so careful in what they say in private e-mails that they would never include a statement that might someday be considered suspicious to certain government authorities? And who considers the potential damage to their future career plans or credit rating that could result from research they have done using the Internet? For example, an innocent medical search to gain information about a disease such as Alzheimer’s, even if you are doing the research for a relative or friend, could be accessed by an investigator during a background check when you apply for a job. Even the possibility of a link between a prospective employee and a devastating disease could be sufficient cause to reject your employment application.4
Your Entire History on Exhibit
Attacks on privacy are not new. Beginning in 1917, after destroying the first elected government of Russia, the new communist dictatorship of Lenin began a process of secret police surveillance of its entire society. Even in the democratic nations of the West, government intelligence and police agencies created a surveillance system to monitor citizens’ activities. Prior to this war on privacy, only the few individuals suspected of criminal activity, sabotage, or sedition were considered worthy of police surveillance. But now, with rapid advances in sophisticated surveillance devices and computer technologies, most national governments have developed an intense interest in every citizen. Governments gather enormous amounts of previously private information on the assets, activities, communications, financial transactions, health, and political and religious activities of virtually every person on earth—and with relative ease.
Many military intelligence agencies, government agencies, and large corporations have introduced sophisticated security systems requiring employees to wear a badge containing a radio frequency identification microchip. This RFID chip enables companies, agencies, and organizations to monitor the location and activity of every worker during every moment he or she is on the premises. When an employee enters the office, a computer records the exact time and begins monitoring his or her every move throughout the day. Security sensors at strategic locations throughout the office complex record the location and duration of the activities of the badge wearer.
Many office phone systems monitor all private phone calls made by employees while at work. Computerized phone systems maintain a permanent record of all known phone numbers of clients, customers, and vendors. If an employee places a personal call, the phone system records the unauthorized number and produces a report of the employee’s private calls, along with the duration of such calls. This data can be used against the employee at the next performance evaluation.5
It’s interesting that U.S. corporations are using secret employee surveillance more than businesses in any other nation. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned, “Criminals have more privacy rights than employees. Police have to get a court order [to eavesdrop on suspected criminals], whereas in the workplace, surveillance can be conducted without safeguards.”6 Computer network security supervisors in many companies go as far as to monitor the keystrokes and productivity of all employees who use a computer in their work. Employees often complain about the stress they experience knowing they are being monitored constantly throughout the day. In many companies, computer spy ware monitors an employee’s Internet activities. Add to this the growing use of random drug testing, secret cameras in washrooms, and intrusive psychological questionnaires. The bottom line is that companies are creating an adversarial and unhealthy psychological environment for workers.
You should be appalled to know that your local and state police, federal intelligence agencies, government officials, employers, and even curious neighbors and business competitors can acquire virtually all of your private information. A record of your travel destinations, the newspapers and books you read, your video rentals, your pay-TV choices, your traffic tickets, your medical tests, as well as your private purchases are recorded in computer files. Anyone with enough computer knowledge can access your information, legally or not.
There is a growing public awareness and concern about the numerous attacks on our privacy through the misuse of computer records. However, the United States Congress and Canada’s Parliament have failed to enact serious laws to protect the privacy of citizens’ medical, criminal, and financial records.
Your Secret Life Now on Camera
Security companies that work under contract for large corporations have found ways to make use of advances in surveillance devices. Virtually invisible pinhole cameras can be placed behind a wall to monitor everything that goes on in an adjacent room, both visually and audibly. The tiny lens, which is the size of a pinhead, is unnoticeable. Infrared cameras can record images silently and in near-total darkness. Another type of surveillance camera can be concealed in a mobile telephone, recording events through the tiny hole normally used for the microphone. This tool often is used for industrial espionage, stealing trade secrets from a competitor. It is also useful in gaining the upper hand in business negotiations. For example, during a face-to-face meeting in a protracted negotiation, the user of the cell phone can leave the phone in the boardroom when he exits to take a break. As the other team discusses their strategy, supposedly in private, the cell phone is recording the conversation.
Surveillance devices are also being used much more widely by individuals. For several hundred dollars, you can obtain a device that enables you to monitor every conversation that takes place in your home or office while you are away. A remote monitoring device known as the XPS-1000 allows you to listen to conversations in your office or home by using the telephone. From a remote location, you dial your phone number using a secret activation code. The phone will not ring, but from that moment on, you can monitor every sound in the room where the phone is located. Another tiny device, a micro transmitter powered for three months by a miniature battery, can be left in any room and will broadcast for a distance of up to one thousand yards to a hidden radio receiver–tape recorder.
While fascinating, the miniaturization of cameras, microphones, and recording devices has stolen what was left of our privacy. If a person is determined to monitor your activities, you can’t prevent it. You can try to guard your privacy by using a software program or device designed to protect your communications. But in doing so, you will have inadvertently alerted intelligence agencies and private investigators that you have something worth keeping private. This may cause them to increase the level of surveillance in an attempt to discover why you want to avoid it.
Abuse of Legitimate Data
All U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), can access data from the National Identification Center to identify and monitor every registered gun owner in the United States. However, we have to ask this question: what else will government agencies pursue using legitimate and legally acquired data?
Two of America’s most secretive agencies, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Security Agency (NSA), maintain a massive global surveillance system known as Project Echelon. This system can monitor every telephone call, fax, Internet search, and e-mail transmission worldwide. (We will look more closely at the remarkable capabilities of this massive surveillance system in chapter 5.) We need to face the sobering truth that we can’t escape the growing surveillance capabilities of all governments, both East and West. These developments turn our attention to the last-days prophecy from the book of Revelation about a coming totalitarian police system. John warned that a person’s every activity will be controlled: “That no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”
(Revelation 13:17). Remarkably, John was describing a universal population control system that would impose some kind of numerical identification on every person in order to monitor his or her financial transactions, trade, business, and ability to buy and sell. This system will enable law enforcement authorities working for the Antichrist and his partner, the False Prophet (see Revelation 13:16), to control the world’s population through a unique ID, based on the number 666, on everyone’s right hand or forehead. The recent subcutaneous pet identification chips could easily be inserted in each human being.
WHO WANTS TO CONTROL YOU?
Government authorities, national security agencies, and businesses that market and sell consumer products know far more about you than most of your friends and family will ever know. People you will never meet have compiled personal information about the details of your daily life, place of residence, type of residence, spending habits, and financial assets. Government agencies justify the invasion of your privacy by reminding us of the threats posed by international terrorism, organized crime, the influx of illegal immigrants, and citizens who defraud the government as welfare cheats or tax evaders.
The NSA possesses detailed records of millions of U.S. citizens, including your communications, health status, medical treatments, employment status, vehicle ownership, driving record, criminal record, and real-estate holdings. In addition, all of your credit records, banking and financial transactions, credit rating, educational transcripts, and travel records are available to many major corporations and government research institutes.
Your life is also of great interest to foreign governments. Most of the Western democratic governments, as well as the governments of China and Russia, are thought to maintain enormous computer databases filled with details about millions of U.S. citizens. Data storage is just the first step. Next will be the most effective ways to organize, categorize, and use this private information. This hurdle will be removed when the government assigns a unique identification number to each citizen. Once that is accomplished, the staggering number of separate files on individual citizens in various databases can be combined into a single massive intelligence file. (We will talk more about this process in chapter 3.)
A confirmation of the consolidation of citizen data was publicized in the Canadian press on May 19, 2000. The Canadian government reluctantly confirmed that up to two thousand significant pieces of information had been assembled on virtually every Canadian citizen in a massive database known as the Longitudinal Labor Force File. As a result of strident public criticism following these revelations, the Canadian government promised to destroy the computer program that linked these files. However, the federal government admitted they still will retain computer data on more than thirty million Canadians— data that are retained in separate computer files held by a variety of government departments, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Immigration, and provincial police forces.7
A SECRET CHIP IN YOUR CREDIT CARDS
Your credit and debit cards are much more than a convenient way to pay for goods and services. The magnetic strip on a credit card or debit card holds electronic data verifying your identity, as well as information validating your right to access particular computer databases, such as your bank accounts. More and more, these cards are being replaced by higher-security smart cards that contain even more information about you. A smart card contains an embedded RFID chip capable of holding millions of times more digital information than is contained in a card’s magnetic strip.
Smart cards provide high levels of security, since they are capable of storing biometric information, such as the iris pattern in the eye of the authorized user. These new cards will document the user’s identity by measuring 173 distinct characteristics from the rings, burrows, and filaments within the iris. The stored data is compared with an iris scan made by a surveillance camera that can read your iris pattern from a distance of several yards.
Other identifying data include your precise hand geometry, which involves identifying you by measuring the length of your fingers and the translucence and thickness of your skin. Infrared scanners can reveal and record the patterns of veins on your palm or the back of your hand. Voice-recognition software can confirm your identity through digital measurement of your voice tone and timbre. Incredibly, a new machine can puff air over the back of your hand, analyze your subtle body odors, and detect as many as thirty separate trace chemical elements that supply a positive identification reading.8 All of this data, and more, can be stored in an RFID chip.
Soon you will be able to replace your credit and debit cards with one very secure smart card that is virtually immune to counterfeiting and attacks by hackers. The data will be encrypted, and your unique passwords—including biometric information—will be required for you to use the card. More than two and a half billion radio frequency smart cards now in use worldwide can perform these functions:
cash transactions such as rechargeable stored-value cards that carry a predetermined monetary value
confidential transferring of medical data to paramedics and hospital in the event of a medical crisis
control of entry into high-security workplaces and computer systems
access to air travel as well as to trains, subways, and buses
These are some of the benefits of the smart card.9However, the growing use of RFID cards will make it possible for government, police, and intelligence agencies to track the activities, location, communications, and financial transactions of every citizen from cradle to grave.
AN INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR PRIVACY
Growing concerns over privacy have motivated representatives of member nations of the European Union (EU) to create an international standard for privacy. The basic rules are as follows:
All privacy regulations apply to both government and private organizations.
Data collection should be limited to that which can be obtained legally and with the knowledge and consent of the citizen subject, except where this is impossible or inappropriate (e.g., criminals).
Data sought on individuals should be limited to the original purpose and kept up to date. The purpose of data collection should be specified, and subsequent use of data should be limited to the original purpose.
No personal data should be disclosed to others without the consent of the subject or without a court order.
All personal data must be kept secure using all reasonable precautions.
All citizens should be able to access, review, and challenge inaccurate data held in databases.
The government agency controller of the database should be legally and criminally accountable for abiding by these privacy principles.
The policies and practices of organizations holding databases on individuals should reveal the information to those who legally inquire.
Private data collected by EU member corporations and states may not be transmitted to organizations in nations that do not have privacy regulations equal to those of the European Union.10
The introduction of similar legislation in America, Canada, and other democratic nations could provide significant protection against the abuse of our privacy. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international group of twenty-nine developed nations from North America, Europe, and Asia that has suggested the creation of powerful, binding privacy standards for both governments and businesses.11
The reality is that the growing attacks on our personal security are rapidly overwhelming the proposed defenses. One potential solution is to use a smart stored-value card that would allow a person to make a payment while the card restricts the merchant from accessing the purchaser’s identity. The card would also prevent merchants and anyone receiving an electronic funds transfer from tracking previous purchases made by that customer. For example, a smart card developed by Mondex International allows customers to transfer funds from their card to a merchant’s account to make a purchase. However, when the merchant’s bank accepts the transfer of funds to cover purchases made using Mondex cards, the bank is not able to identify the actual purchasers. A similar system is used by Visa International in its Visa cash card. The disposable card does not permit merchants to identify the person who used the card.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
There are hopeful signs that, after years of indifference to the threats to our privacy and financial security, the public is awakening to the heightened dangers posed by new surveillance technologies.
When it was revealed that Intel Corporation had embedded in every Pentium III chip a secret serial number that would allow the person using the computer to be identified, customers and privacy groups launched a protest.12 Additionally, Microsoft had embedded a hidden identification number in all documents produced by any computer using Microsoft software. The protests that followed forced the company to provide a free software program that eliminated the identifying number.13 However, the vast majority of computer users of Microsoft software are unaware of the privacy problem, and most lack the expertise to fix it.
If we are to protect what little privacy we still have, we should encourage a healthy debate about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each new technological development. Citizen involvement and thoughtful protest against the governmental and corporate threats to our privacy can slow down this relentless attack. We need to defend our right to maintain a personal life that is free from outside interference and intrusion.
Still, in violation of constitutional guarantees to the contrary, our society continues to move toward an all-encompassing surveillance society, which is described in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. We will live to see the time when our right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone are nothing more than distant memories.