Where is my privacy? Transparency out of control.

May 30 2021

The other day, I pledged to a project on Kickstarter on May 18. It was the first time I made an account on that website. On May 22, I got an email from GoFundMe: a person named “Casey Atkins” (not a real name) was requesting for donations. I’ve never signed up for GoFundMe. Seriously, are Kickstarter and GoFundMe the same entity under the hood?

After years of sign-ups with the same email, my address has been scattered to the ends of the earth. Who knows how many data breaches have spilled my name and info.

I registered my number at Do Not Call so I can stop getting scammer robots asking me about my car warranty. I don’t own a car right now. The webtoon Noblesse had a gag where a character was expecting a life-threatening phone call, the cellphone started ringing, they picked it up with their heart pounding, and the caller was a car scammer talking about warranties.

My sister has been using Brave browser, and I started using it on my phone. On my computer, I use Firefox since the extensions are pretty good. Most of my browsing history is casual so I don’t have much to hide, but I’m not going to willingly toss along my info. I still use Chrome for web development because the Dev Tools Console is too good, but seriously, the amount of data collection makes Google Chrome an invasive species! Do you want to be harvested?

Last summer when I returned to my parents’ house, the tables were filled with junk mail. I went on a spree to cancel everything. I paid $2 to signed up with DMAchoice.org and put my family’s names on the Do not mail lists. The horrible thing is that my marketing opt-out will expire in 10 years. What makes you think that 10 years later, I’ll suddenly want junk mail from your random marketers any more than I want them today?

Oh sweet America, the land of marketing. I’m pretty sure most countries don’t have the infrastructure to send endless paper waste to random houses, and I hope they don’t copy the U.S.A. just because trees are “renewable.” DMAchoice says that direct mail marketing is eco-friendly. What a load of horsesh!t.

Some people come to the DMAchoice mail preference service planning on completely stopping all the direct mail they receive, because they think that doing so will help save paper and the environment. But before you do this, here is some background about the value of direct mail you may find interesting.

  • Direct mail is a green way to shop. If Americans replaced two trips to the mall each year with shopping by catalog, we’d reduce our number of miles driven by 3.3 billion—a 3 billion pound reduction in carbon dioxide and a savings of $650 million on gas alone.

This is an issue with American car culture. Read Door-to-Door for more details about the travesty of pollution and congestion in major cities. Catalog shopping reduces mall trips, but increases logistics demand. Have you heard the tale of angry citizens complaining about UPS trucks polluting and ruining their roads when they’re the ones ordering from Amazon?

  • Mail represents a very small percentage of America’s municipal waste stream.
  • Mail is made from a renewable resource. The vast majority of paper produced in America today comes from trees grown for that specific purpose. The forest industry ensures that the number of trees each year is increasing, so trees are not a depleting resource. In fact, forest land in the United States has increased by at least 5.3 million acres in the past three decades.

Thanks Captain Obvious, but I’m still certain that cutting less trees is more eco-friendly than cutting more trees.

  • Direct mail is critical to the economic well-being of communities, businesses and charities throughout the United States and it employs thousands of individuals. Marketing mail is one primary product that sustains the United States Postal Service and its network and mail services.

Let me just say that none of these points have anything to do with eco-friendly marketing. If we really want to be eco-friendly, we would use paper bags for produce and buy from local farms.

Those “pre-approved for credit card” offers are annoying because they come with a mock card, made from plastic, that’s worthless and is purposely meant to get thrown out. Seriously? Amazon has a credit card rewards program, almost every department store like Macy’s has one, and the legend has it that MoviePass was also a credit card. OptOutPrescreen requires you to send a physical mail in order to opt-out of credit spam permanently. I’ve got to say, America is a dinosaur when it comes to finances. Why does everything have to be paper? Other countries have electronic birth certificates and even electronic voting.

Amazon is gearing up to release Sidewalk, their IoT networking service. For anyone who owns an Amazon product, like an Alexa or Echo, and buys a comptaible model, they will automatically opt in to wifi-sharing with their neighbors. This just seems to have so many problems, no matter how vetted their security may be.

If we want internet connectivity to become universal, that should become a utility provided by the government instead of by a corporation. Otherwise, you can basically guarantee that your data is being harvested for profit. While I’m not a big fan of the NSA, at least the government has a minimum obligation to care about the citizens, and the GDPR is an international coalition for the right to internet data privacy.

Knowing anything about history, like how AT&T’s Bell System provided Americans a phone service for the longest time until it got bopped for being a monopoly, the government isn’t going to do anything until private companies blow up and commit some gross violation of human rights. Then internet will become a utility.

I don’t know what next I can do to protect my privacy other than to abandon my f*cked up email. If you’re from a first world country, it’s considered strange if you lack an online presence, but I’ll continue researching ways to stay somewhat anonymous and reduce the amount of hecklers.