2012-10-24 / Features

Internet In Bloom For The Layperson


Just because you are paranoid does not mean you are not being followed. In fact, if you own a cellphone or use a debit or credit card the chances of being tracked are very high, especially in a major city. New York City has a variety of NYPD Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras recording our movements 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Shop online? Your purchases and preferences are being monitored and sold, just like consumer snail-mailing lists. How else do you explain those ads that pop up for items similar to ones you buy online when using such search engines as www.Google.com? Amazon.com is so brazen it even suggests items based on your purchasing history the second you log in. Even when I do not log in, I get e-mailed suggestions from them. Netflix.com also gets your attention by using your name while it posts suggested entertainment. “Our best picks for Ted”. The monitoring does not end with consumers. For example, did you know that most company tractor-trailers are monitored via Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology?

Freedom of speech and of the press was so important to the founders of this great country that the press is the only industry mentioned in our U.S. Constitution. Please see our First Amendment for details. However, the right to privacy was also crucial to the framers and is elaborated in our Fourth Amendment. With the advent of the Internet you can follow and support this right and several other related civil liberties issues by visiting a site run by a cutting edge, public interest research center in Washington, D.C., established in 1994, at http://epic.org. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) was designed to focus public attention on such topics as: body scanners, cloud computing, domestic surveillance, drones, Facebook, Google Books, Google Street View, iPhone privacy, medical record privacy, National IDs, social networking privacy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and numerous other important issues.

Moreover, if you live in New York and meet low income criteria, such as being unemployed or under-employed, you may be eligible for free health insurance courtesy of the Affinity Health Plan, an independent, non-profit, managed care company, located in the Bronx.  For details please see www.Affinityplan.org or call 1.866.247.5678.  Last month Internet in Bloom spotlighted a different free health insurance organization, based out of Queens:  Fidelis Care.  Please see www.Fideliscare.org  or call 1.888.343.3547 for more information.  Where else in the US will you find free health care?

Ted J. Bloom, MLS., MSEd., CPL., has been a published columnist in New York since 1999. A college librarian in Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan with two graduate degrees, some of his credentials include, creating and running a career preparation computer lab for at-risk youth through the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as being a SUNY Communications Instructor and a YMCA Director.

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