TMI [Questions about availability of personal information]

When I first began using a ‘shopper’ card years ago I felt, ’ Who cares what brand of TP I use’, or if my 40 lb. annual consumption of pistachios was excessive. My personal habits, being tracked apparently anonomously, are neither wierd nor illegal. Unfortunately, after watching the vagaries of various ‘crime’ shows on TV, I find myself questioning the depth and availability of this information.
Ultimately, who controls this info.? who is it shared with? Does the govt. have day-to-day access to it, or only w/ a court order? News stories of how people are located by just the ‘ping’ of their cell phone. TV shows (yes, the ubiquitoius font of all tomfoolery) show of tracking people by credit card usage, CCTV, forum websites, or lately even facial recognition on video captures.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s the 'survivalist crackpots decribed ways of ‘falling off the grid’. With today’s technologies, is that even possible?
I don’t plan on anything societally unacceptable, at least not in the forseeable future. That old cat killer ‘curiosity’ has just taken hold of me, and I wrestle with her nightly.
Thanks for reading my rant

I don’t think anyone keeps track of everyone keeping track. And that’s the core issue. In general anyone who collects information (a merchant,say; a website, say; a creditor, say…) has a Privacy policy which even if read, is seldom parsed. Where information is salable, it’s sold; the extent to which it is de-identified is variable.

I just assume loss of privacy is yesterday’s news, and if I text it or say it, it’s being recorded even it’s a secret desire to be Camilla’s tampon.

As for the government? Surely there is a way to get almost any information, and the government is the worst offender anyway. Coupla recent examples for me: the FAFSA for letting my children apply for college aid was so invasive I paid cash instead even though I wanted them to be on the hook for some of the money. And that was for a loan which had no requirements other than attending the college–i.e. the interest was not subsidized and there was no maximum income cutoff.

But the most egregious…ta daaa…the State of Oregon has a proposal to put a GPS in every car registered in Oregon that would track everywhere the car goes and record that. I kid you not: Oregon considers mileage-based tax Makes anything Mr Bush did look like bush-league invasiveness.


I edited the title to indicate the subject. UncleAl, please try to use specific thread titles, especially in GQ.

This may be better suited to GD than GQ, but I’ll leave it here for now. I remind posters to avoid providing instructions on how to do anything illegal.

General Questions Moderator

The government does not have routine access to this kind of information, because it is collected and controlled by a private company.

Who has access to the data is up to the company (except for illegal hacking). If the government requests the data without a court order, the company can provide it, or withhold it . It’s up to them. Verizon turned over data to the FBI without a court order. It was under no obligation to provide the data, but did anyway.

Is it the case that the OP is wondering very specifically about “government” access, or access in general, including access by (various) governments?
I may have drawn the wrong inference from some of the statements in the OP if only government access is being addressed.

You’re right, it’s broader than just the government. I have changed the thread title accordingly.