Threats from the Permanent Record

If you're in the mood to worry about a technological apocalypse, there's no shortage of imminent disasters to hang your hat on, tinfoil or otherwise. An enemy-launched electromagnetic pulse in the upper atmosphere that zaps us back to the Stone Age, self-aware nanotechnology suddenly turning on its creators, drug-resistant super bugs that someday soon will learn how to make antibiotics obsolete — all are scary and, while a few among the growing stack of dire predictions may be entirely possible, some are massively overstated and most will never amount to more than a Y2K-style anticlimax.

But don't rest too easy. There's a real tech-based 5-star threat that's aimed at you, personally, and it's much closer to home than you may realize: The decaying state of personal privacy and the ever-expanding set of tools (both human and electronic) that are watching, tracking, and probing your every move.

More than ever, it seems like almost everywhere you look, there's something looking back. Think of your online life this way: Imagine for a second that the place where you live has no shades or curtains on the windows, the walls are paper-thin, the locks all pop open at the slightest nudge, the peephole in your front door looks in instead of out, and many of your neighbors are nosy, gossipy, sketchy, and anonymous. In a place like that, someone you don't know could be watching or listening to everything you do; maybe they're watching right now or, even worse, maybe they're recording you.

The sobering fact is, your Internet service provider, your favorite search engine, your social networking site, and other e-destinations know a lot more about you than you think, and remember: the Internet never forgets.

The biggest push behind the current tech-driven privacy invasion probably comes from one key fact: Personal data is the new gold rush. With about 70% of our economy now driven by consumer spending, it's understandable that specific information about those consumers and their shopping habits has become a smoking-hot commodity.

Every detail of what you buy, and when, and where, and how often, and why, online and offline, can be used to target advertising, track trends, and even predict future behavior right down to the individual.

How do they get this information? Mostly, they just listen. People with a lot of Internet-connected gadgets in their lives are more likely to be leaking secrets like a rusty sieve, and if you don't pay much attention to protecting your privacy, your own computer may be making you a lot more vulnerable than you'd like. The first mistake is thinking of the many joys and conveniences on the Internet as "free," when we all know that nothing of any value comes without a cost. In many cases, little bits of your privacy are given up to marketers who pay the freight for your Web-surfing in return for what they learn about you.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a study of the top-50 sites and the number of tracking tools they deposit on your computer while you're reading a news story, shopping, or even just looking up a word in the online dictionary. Only one of these, Wikipedia, left your computer alone during your visit. The most aggressive site (a popular dictionary) left behind 234 little digital files to track your activities and target your ads accordingly.

On some level, we're well aware that all kinds of subtle, creeping invasions of our personal space are happening, and that they're happening everywhere. You don't even have to read the fine print in that cell-phone agreement, social Web site, cable/DSL/Internet terms-of-service, credit application, GPS/geolocation app, browser toolbar, RFID tag, tollway transponder — or even in your employment contract — to realize that you've actually consented to being watched from some hidden vantage point for much of the day.

That's right: whether you remember doing so or not, in one way or another you've agreed to trade out your privacy, a little at a time. But it's not just the advertisers you should watch out for. Privacy concerns extend far beyond marketing.

For example, recently a Pennsylvania school had provided over 2,000 students with laptop computers to help with their homework. Software was pre-installed to allow school officials to activate the Webcams of these computers, wherever they were, presumably for anti-theft purposes. It was later alleged that tens of thousands of photos and screen-shots were secretly taken, of a number of students, in the "privacy" of their homes, without their knowledge, for purposes that had nothing to do with the original intent.

The government is taking advantage of emerging technologies as well. In many parts of the country, you can already incur a number of different kinds of traffic tickets and tollway fines based purely on photographic or electronic evidence. There have been reports of local authorities using Google Earth and StreetView images to search for permit violations and other punishable infractions without the need for an on-site inspection.

And let's not forget the actual criminals. Thieves, bullies, and cyber-stalkers often don't even have to resort to hacking skills to steal passwords, hijack accounts, or harass their victims. If you're not careful, that anonymous "friend" on Facebook or follower on Twitter can gain access to sensitive information that you'd never dream of giving them if you saw them face-to-face.

The real danger is that someone, somewhere, is able to build a very detailed picture of you and your activities from all the tiny bits of innocent information you give out on a daily basis. This picture amounts to that "permanent record" you were always threatened with in school. It didn't exist then, but it certainly does now. By giving up these little parcels of your privacy, you're creating that permanent record, and not only that — you're also creating a chain of evidence that could convict you of crimes that may not even exist yet.

Here's a small example, with potentially large implications.

It's been proposed that tiny radio tags (or RFID chips) could soon be attached to all the products we buy. From your credit-card records, the powers that be already know what you buy, and where, and how often, but with these new tags they could also know what you did with what you bought. This technology could be used to track compliance with any number of current and new regulations. Sound outlandish? The city of Cleveland is rolling out a program of "smart" trash bins, designed to tattle on you if you don't roll your recyclables to the curb on a regular basis. The automatic fine is $100 per infraction.

Let's say, in a new green economy, certain kinds of light bulbs, packaging, foods, appliances and other materials are mandated to bring the average carbon-footprint within a government-enforced range. By knowing what you buy, and how often, and what you throw away, your obedience to these regulations is recorded and actionable. They don't even have to take the time to go through your trash to assess your penalties; it's all done electronically, and automatically.

In a nationwide, government-supervised health care system, it's not impossible to imagine that "healthy" behavior would be encouraged (and compliance somehow enforced) in order to control costs and manage limited resources. If you've been ordered by your doctor to watch your weight, cut back on your drinking, or quit smoking, but the self-supplied evidence in your permanent record suggests you've been cheating, who knows what the results could be? You could see your health care "tax" skyrocket, you could lose your place in line for an expensive drug or procedure — in short, your life could become a much lower priority in an already overburdened system.

You don't know where all this information is, who controls it, who shares it with whom, much less how it will all be used in the future. History has taught us this, however: for every benefit you receive from these new technologies, it's likely something of greater value is being taken away, with or without your knowledge.

Much like liberty, privacy is easier to give up than it is to win back again. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects was important enough to earn a top-5 spot in the Bill of Rights. That alone should be enough of an endorsement to justify some daily care to preserve that right — to safeguard your permanent record — even though you've got nothing to hide.



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On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck blasted the Democrats — and anyone else on the left — who have been so eager to open our southern U.S. border for the past several months, but also willing to turn a blind eye to the Cuban people in need of help today.

"While we are welcoming people from any country, all over the world, without any kind of information, and setting them into our country, putting them on American planes paid for by American taxpayers," Glenn began. "And our Coast Guard Cutters are turning these [Cuban] people away. Shame on you! Shame on you!"

Glenn said that he's "sick and tired" of hearing about "brave" leftist activists like Colin Kaepernick, who protest the America flag while wearing Che Guevara and Fidel Castro t-shirts. Meanwhile, the Cuban people are risking their lives by taking to the sea to escape their oppressive regime and come to America.

"Anybody who glorifies Che doesn't know their ass from their elbow. You can't call them a human rights activist. You're protesting the American flag, because you so deeply believe in the right to be free? And yet, you wear a Che T-shirt?" Glenn said.

Glenn went on to argue that, even though the left has "bastardized" the meaning of our country, he still believes America is the best nation on Earth. In fact, he'd give up his citizenship "in a heartbeat" if another country could prove to be better, more noble, and more free. But no other nation exists like ours, he said, which is why it's so imperative we fight for freedom here, in Cuba, and around the world.

Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn explain:

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There's a new "reality" spreading, and the mere act of questioning it has become incredibly dangerous, Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Abigail Shrier told Glenn on the most recent episode of "The Glenn Beck Podcast."

Shrier's book, "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters," exposes the radical gender activism that — like critical race theory — has overtaken our children's schools and culture. But even worse, she warned, it could end your parental rights for good.

Shrier made it clear she is by no means "anti-trans," but simply speaking up against the extremes of this new "reality" has made her enemy No. 1 to many activists. Her book has been bashed so hard by the Left that Target has stopped selling it twice, Amazon once banned ads for it, and the American Booksellers Association even called sending it to others "a serious, violent incident."

In the clip below, Shrier explained why she believes "there may be no hope for the public school system."

"You have teachers behaving like activists across the country who have no interest in actually teaching. They believe their job is to remake your child," she asserted. "We're seeing so much evidence of that, I think it's fair to say that it may be too deeply rooted in the ideology being taught in public school. I'm not sure that the public school system is redeemable at this point."

Watch the video clip below for more or find the full podcast with Abigail Shrier here:

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What is actually in Texas' new GOP-led voting bill? Nearly every Texas House Democrat fled the state to block its passage, calling it racist and oppressive, and President Joe Biden backed them as well.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Friday to set the record straight and call out the lies: All of these claims are "completely false." He also explained his promise to "arrest" the Texas House Democrats when they return to the Lone Star State.

"What is in the bill is completely different than what they're saying, what Kamala Harris is saying, what President Biden is saying. What's in the bill actually increases the number of hours that people have to vote in the state of Texas. In the state of Texas, we have at least 12 days of early voting, and we are adding hours to those days. And on top of that, we are giving people time off from work to be able to vote. Bottom line, we're making it easier to vote in the state of Texas," Gov Abbott explained.

"In comparison, Delaware — the state that President Biden votes in — has exactly zero hours of early voting," he added. "That said, there is one thing that we're doing in the state of Texas, and that is we're making sure we tighten the reins on mail-in ballots that can lead to voter fraud. And it's not me saying that. It's a federal judge, appointed by Barack Obama, in Corpus Christi, Texas, who wrote in a legal opinion that voter fraud occurs, quote, in abundance as it concerns mail-in ballots. We know. Texans know. There is fraud in mail-in ballots in the state of Texas. It must be fixed. That's one thing we're trying to do. That being said, all these claims that we're denying people the right to vote and yada, yada, yada, are completely false."

Abbott went on to discuss the much-debated voter ID laws in Texas and to explain why Democrats insist on calling basic voter ID requirements "racist."

"When Democrats do not have truth on their side, they resort to one single word and that is 'racism' ... Texas implemented voter ID almost a decade ago, and when we went through that fight, what word did they use? Racism," he said. "Guess what? After Texas imposed voter ID requirements in the state of Texas, there have been more people voting and more people of color who went to vote. Voting didn't get harder. It got easier and more abundant in the state of Texas. And so, once again, Democrats have absolutely no legal standing, other than to say, 'racism.'"

Glenn asked Gov. Abbott to explain his pledge to "arrest" the Democratic lawmakers that fled once they return to Texas.

"Let me explain how this works. So, whenever there is a break of quorum, which is what is happening now — meaning there is not a sufficient number of people who are showing up to the Texas House of Representatives for the Texas House to engage in business. Whenever there's a quorum break like that, the House issues what's called a 'call on the House.' And when that happens, the sergeant-at-arms is authorized to work with the Texas Department of Public Safety, to — you can call it arrest, apprehend, whatever you want to call it — any of the members who are not in the Texas House of Representatives and bring them to the Texas House where they will be 'cabined' with no ability to leave the Texas House chamber, without a permission slip from the speaker."

Watch the video clip below for more details:

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Our Fourth Amendment, which protects our right to privacy, has never been in more danger. Journalist Lara Logan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to explain how the digital world has given leaders — both in government and corporations — the ability to not only spy on Americans, but to track their patterns of behavior, too.

Lara explained why, even if you think you have nothing to hide, you should be very concerned. Because these digital "human terrain maps" could be used to manipulate you in any way those in control see fit.

"The purpose of your privacy is much more than just being out of public view," Lara said. "There is really nothing that's more central to our democracy than the right to privacy. I mean, all of the rights in the Constitution have a real purpose, and a real value, and if we allow people to take them away from us, we voluntarily are surrendering that. We are lambs to the slaughter.

"They're not just looking at what you have to hide. They're looking to manipulate you into doing what they want. These are control systems. That's what they are," Lara explained. "What they do with the information is they create a 'human terrain map' for every single person on the planet, anyone within a digital signature or within their reach. They are creating a human terrain map that can be used against you, by anyone."

Watch the video clip below for more details:


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.