Healthy or Prudent Paranoia

Are Certain Big Companies Snooping On Us?

The word “Paranoia” has always been interpreted as one having a mental disorder. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as : “A mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.”

But what of healthy or prudent paranoia? This is something I learned about at least forty years ago, when I was in a custody case with an abusive and neglecting wife/mother. I was up against just about the most corrupt judicial system in the country, controlled by a state government official. He owned all of the local, county and state judges, and even the State Appellate and Supreme Court judges. Luckily, a county employed doctor, a psychiatrist, joined forces with me to understand and fight the system. He taught me the precepts of healthy, or prudent paranoia. We became great friends and waded through the dangerous judicial waters. We both were later bankrupted together in our underdog situation. The official also later did some time. And that was due to our efforts to finally get him noticed by the feds of his crooked dealings.

My prudent or healthy paranoia has been with me through the years, and more and more active lately. We are all dealing with a new century of thieves, dirty cops, corrupt judges and lawyers. It seems that all of our dealings are with computers, hackers, viruses, and stalkers.

Quoting from a recent article that appeared in the Harvard Business Review : 

“Prudent paranoia is a form of constructive suspicion regarding the intentions and actions of people and organizations. Prudently paranoid people monitor their colleagues’ every move, scrutinizing and analyzing each action in minute detail. They are aware that those around them harbor powerful—and often conflicting—motives for the things they do. By awakening a sense of present or future danger, prudent paranoia serves as part of the mind’s early warning system, prompting people to search out and appraise more information about their situations. Employees in times of mergers and acquisitions, for instance, may become rightly distrustful of other groups or departments. Supervisors and managers also may use their paranoia to tell them when and where their power is being threatened. I’ve also observed a form of collective paranoia that can grip an entire organization. In many cases, the paranoia serves as a healthy defense against a genuine outside threat.”

Being in the entertainment business all my life, there were numerous times when the signing of a contract was necessary. There were record deals, songs, management, publishing, home buying and selling; you name it. I learned then that you should never sign anything blind. Any lawyer will tell you that you should always seek legal advice and assistance before you sign anything, especially a contract.

However, these days Internet activity governs most of our lives. Every day we run into situations with software programs, purchases, licensing, doctor’s offices, and any number of things where a little box appears asking you to check that you agree to the terms. When you check to see the terms, another small box usually appears with the terms and tiny wording, usually very grey and hard to read.

And so, our impatience grows thin and we say to hell with it and check the box to agree. This, obviously is what they expect. In most cases you have no choice but to agree to those unseen, undigested and unread terms. You’re stuck since there is no changing or negotiating the terms of the agreement. Its all one sided to say the least. If you scan the little box and copy and paste it, you will find that it usually runs many pages. But at least you can read it. In fact, I recommend doing this so you will have a copy for each and every one you have to agree to. The hurry, the haste, and anticipation of getting something in your hands may possibly later come back and haunt you.

So, what are some of these big companies doing when we sign up to use their product? Apparently, they really don’t want you to know. It appears they are mostly communications, phone and software companies.

Can we believe what Edward Snowden said in an interview recently? 

“In the second part of an interview with The Guardian, US whistleblower Edward Snowden’s has claimed that companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft got together with the National Security Agency (NSA) to provide ‘direct access’ to back ends of all of communicating systems. He added the NSA doesn’t limit itself to foreign intelligence.”

And so, are we to believe Snowden or not? A Patent Application was filed in 2011 by Apple with twenty-four claims that reveals in-depth plans to track users’ movements via their smartphones

Apple may have denied that it is tracking iPhone customers, but the patent application filed in 2009 suggests the company was planning to base services on a history of where a handset had been.

The iPhone manufacturer has come under fire following the public disclosure that handsets were collecting data from GPS and Wi-Fi signals – a data set that formed a record of the user’s whereabouts on the handset and on synchronized computers.

The spying iPhone is no accident. A recent Apple patent application reveals that the location-tracking dossiers accumulated in iPhones are to be used in apps from Apple and any number of other companies.

On Dec 17, 2013, the Patent US8611326  was issued to Apple. One of the drawings shows the front of the iphone most of us are carrying around with us. 

Reading of these events drew my extreme interest regarding a very recent matter with attempting to update a computer program. My prudent paranoia flared when I learned why my computer wasn’t allowed to download the update. I still wonder why, and what kind of snooping they may have been doing.

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