GOOGLE AND APPLE RECORD EVERY STEP YOU TAKE, AND EVERY SEARCH YOU MAKE—AND HOW MUCH OF THAT IS AT THE FINGERTIPS OF THE GOVERNMENT?
Phones have been weaponized to pervasively surveil, categorize and politically manipulate their users.
The devices are not just crucial endpoints of a sophisticated intelligence gathering system, though that would be bad enough. They are part of a thought and activity manipulation system that affects what we see, what we buy, who we interact with, what information reaches us, and what doesn’t.
Rob Braxman, a leading privacy advocate and tech expert, is known for his engaging and informative YouTube channel.
Braxman, “The Internet Privacy Guy,” recently posted a video with perhaps the most detailed layman’s version yet of exactly how Google and Apple phones conduct and serve as a conduit for consumer abuse that would be illegal—if it didn’t serve the purposes of that integral partner of corporate Facism, the Government.
The analysis by Braxman delved into the ways in which Google and Apple record every activity users engage in on their phones, and track every movement of users, day and night.
Though congenial and measured in his delivery, it’s clear that “The Internet Privacy Guy” has little patience with stupidity when it comes to the casual disregard that many people have for what’s at stake:
“I’m not sure people have a correct understanding of what a phone does to you, and how it is used against you. ‘The typical line of course is that I’m not doing anything nefarious, I have nothing to hide.’
“I’m going to state this up front: if this is what you think, then you likely have no fucking idea about what your phone is doing. I want to frame your understanding of the phone tracking problem. And I think the conclusion will be that this is something to be seriously concerned about.”
Your Identity and Everything You Do Is Being Recorded (and Used Against You)
In sections of the video titled “The Identity Problem,” “Cross-Device Tracking,” “Google Analytics,” “Location Tracking on Steroids,” “The GPS Chip” and “Wi-fi Triangulation,” Braxman relates the technical nuts and bolts of how the duopoly of phone platform tech companies accomplish their surveillance and influence operations.
Braxman points out that nothing that happens on these phones remains anonymous, because handing over your identity is the first requirement for using them.
It’s true certain apps like Telegram can be used to communicate in ways that are privacy shielded. But the bulk of apps being used by most people contain no privacy measures.
And even Telegram users can’t make a move, or meet with others, without the phones reporting it all.
Concerning data gathering, Braxman notes that Google Analytics tracks users as they visit websites.
“Google also has the ability to track every click on the phone from the browser or any app, because every Internet URL is passed through a URL checker called ‘Google Safety Net.’ Additionally, Google and Apple can also track every domain you visit. Google can intercept your DNS traffic using the private DNS feature on Android. Apple uses the iCloud Private Relay to do the same thing. So basically, here’s where we are to start: your phone is clearly identified and used to match you to any activity on the Internet.”
Constant Location Tracking
It doesn’t matter if users turn off “location tracking” on their phones, says Braxman. Via GPS, and due to the nature of cell tower and wifi systems, the location of phones are virtually always known.
Forget Contact Tracing Apps. Tech companies have built contact tracing capabilities into the phones, says Braxman, no apps needed.
In addition, Apple has something called “Apple Mesh Network,” which takes location tracking even further:
“Apple decided that iPhones needed to talk to each other on Bluetooth using Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE. This is referred to as the Apple Mesh Network, which is the main infrastructure of the Air Tag. So pulses of data are passed between iPhones at all times, while searching for air tags. If an air tag is found within a couple of hundred feet from an iPhone, the phones report their positions to Apple, in relation to the air tag. And this is precise, including distance and direction to the air tag. So multiple iPhones would really be tracked together.
“As an example, if one person had an air tag in a protest or demonstration, then clearly all the iPhones there will go into a location reporting frenzy, identifying that air tag, and thereby also sending their exact location. But beyond that, if you decide to turn off your iPhone, it then turns on Air Tag Mode, and it behaves like an air tag, reporting its own location to Apple via other iPhones.
“This goes even further. Another method of Bluetooth signaling occurs with both iPhones and Google Androids, so it detects the presence of other phones in the area, based on the Bluetooth identifiers, called MAC addresses. This was used to perform Contact Tracing. Whether or not you use a contact tracing app, this tracking occurs at the operating system level.”
Your Cohorts Are Known, Your Allotted Information Is Being Controlled
As might be guessed, tech companies aren’t surveilling users only to tailor advertising to them.
They are categorizing users into “cohorts,” or groups, based on political and other other designations. And they are then targeting cohorts for information manipulation.
Braxman details how it works, and how extensively it’s already being used:
“Using your clicks on the Internet, your search results on Google search, your DNS history, your activities are tracked and deeply profiled. Alphabet has a division (discussed in a separate video) that’s deeply funded and provided with all the data on Google that allows each person to be recorded in a database, and tracked according to identified [sub]groups of users called Cohorts.
“The Cohorts are organized based on certain characteristics. You may be in a cohort for demographic classifications like age and financial status, for example. But there will be a cohort even for specific beliefs. It is Google’s plan that even advertising will be fed to users in the future based on what cohorts they belong to. They expect to sell access to these cohort groups.
“As far as the source of data for the cohort assignments, just from Google search alone, Google has categorized people based on what they search for.
“Google has decided that they want to be an activist organization. And in their determination, they decided that some of these cohort categories require some targeted response. They have established cohorts for liberal versus conservative versus moderate. Likely, many many layers of this.
“They have specific cohorts for belief systems. For example, they have tracked people who are anti-vax, anti-Hillary [Clinton], Q anon, incels, climate change deniers, white supremacists, right-wing election deniers, anti-woke parents, anti-LGBT, Muslim extremists, gun enthusiasts, to name a few.
“Google has the means to track any kind of belief system. But they decided they would actively target what they consider to be right-wing extremists. They call this group violent right-wing extremists. I don’t know how you can tell if someone is violent just from Google searches. But this is their labeling. And by the way, I do not see any kind of categorization of left-wing violent extremism.
“Then they partner with a company in London and decided to take this data to actually move to the next phase of the project. And that is to manipulate the Google search results for the targeted population. This way, the search results always shows an opposite point of view at the top of the search results for these targeted individuals, and also modifying the rest of the search results.”
“Why You Should Care”
In his summary, Braxman points out that a government that has already systematically enlisted tech companies to undercut Constitutional citizen protections of political and free speech rights, could have a field day with Apple and Google phone surveillance and manipulation systems.
“This should answer the question of why this is not just about caring if you have something to hide. If mass numbers of the population are identified and sorted by belief, what could someone do to those people who believe something against the current government in power?
“Just look back in history and see what some corrupt leader could do [with] this information. This to me is the greatest threat in modern times. It is a direct threat to freedom.”
For those wanting an alternative to Google and Apple phones, even a supplementary device, Braxman, as a tech and privacy expert, has developed a phone that is not tethered to either company.
The BraX2 Privacy Phone is available at https://brax.me.