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Yes, Big Brother is Reading Your Email—and Soon He'll Be Reading Your Body Language, Thanks to Microsoft

 
 
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Welcome to the new police state.

 

Advertising Age, an advertising trade newspaper, has revealed that back in 2010:

 “Microsoft sought to patent an advertising engine that gauges people's emotional states based on their search queries, emails, instant messages and use of online games, as well as facial expressions, speech patterns and body movements. The ad engine is device-agnostic; as Microsoft noted in its application, ‘client devices" could include personal digital assistants, smart phones, laptops, PCs and gaming devices.’” 

Wait a second, just wait a second! I have a problem with some of this. And its use as an “ad engine” is the least of it.

 

It’s not so much tracking search engine queries that sends chills up my spine. That’s old news. You go to look up, say, “navel lint” and some website pins a cookie to your hard drive. The next thing you know, you’re getting pop-up ads for belly button cleaners, lint tweezers, lint brushes, navel jewelry and pulled pork belly sandwiches at your neighborhood takeout joint. So big deal.

 

But e-mail? They can read your e-mail? Isn’t that qualitatively the same as illegally tapping somebody’s phone or stealing and reading somebody’s snail mail? And instead of saying to the person on the Microsoft staff who thought of this, “This kind of hacking is against the law and is legally and morally repugnant. You have a criminal mind and you’re fired,” .....Instead of that, they give the guy money and a team to develop the technology?

 

And then they start reading your facial expressions, presumably through that little chat lens on the top of your screen that you thought was there so that you could have face-to-face conversations with your mom in Mumbai or your pop in Peroria.

 

What’s the next step?

 

Well, if I can think of the next step, so can some errant cops, or political thugs, or crypto-fascists, or Mitt Romney. They can catch you frowning at the news that Scott Walker won in Wisconsin, or screaming at the computer screen whenever you catch Mitt lying through his teeth again.

 

And then they can check your e-mails to see if you were one of the people who’s writing to friends and acquaintances, urging them to vote Democratic.

 

And then they can come for you and take you away.

 

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

Cross-posted at The New York Crank

No More Mister Nice Blog / By The New York Crank

Posted at June 16, 2012, 7:43am

 
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