Smile! 'Data Brokers' Are Tracking Your Every Move

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WASHINGTON -- Can the government really track our every move? The answer is yes. We're sending clues about ourselves, often without even knowing it.

"It's hard for you to know all the places where information is being generated about you," Justin Brookman, a consumer privacy advocate at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told CBN News.

Data brokers are constantly collecting information about you and it comes from sources you may not expect. Even a mobile gaming device tracks its GPS location when powered off.

Other gaming systems are literally watching you, detecting where you are in a room and monitoring what you're watching on TV.

Companies are collecting specific information about what you buy to less specific, yet sought after, "metadata," which is basically data about data. Put another way, it's information about you -- like how many phone calls you make, how long you talk, and even the subject of your emails.

Metadata allows the government and any other readers to categorize you by determining with whom you associate and assessing how you think.

Brookman says people should lobby for better privacy laws.

"My concern is if you go to the store with your credit card and buy a loaf of bread or buy a donut, does that information get collected about me and sold to my doctor or my insurance company?" he said. "That's the kind of thing we don't have control over right now, and I think people should agitate for better control, for better laws about this."

In the meantive, surveillance isn't going away. It could easily become even more pervasive in the future because technology is only getting…well, smarter.

Right now if you take a picture of someone walking down the sidewalk, you probably won't be able to identify him or her using facial recognition software. But that technology is coming. That has some people wondering if privacy is dead -- or at least on life support.

Don't forget the growing capability of drones -- tiny, unmanned "eyes in the sky" that could follow you without your knowing it, even if you aren't using a cell phone or any other electronic device that can track you.

The number of drones is increasing all the time and with some, the growing capability to track people electronically, virtually all the time.
 
Some are pushing Congress to pass a new privacy law, but it's a fine line to legislate.

"The key is going to be [to] have these smart devices working for us and not against us --and right now I don't have the confidence that that's going to be the case because people don't know what information these devices might be sending off about them," Brookman said.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.