Yesterday morning a happy event occurred in my step- (in Swedish ‘bonus’-) family. I spread the news to my own children via e-mail and text-messaging – but NOT on Facebook. Less than 24 hours later I received an email from Moonpig.com advertising ‘new baby’ greetings cards and gifts. Unless this was an extraordinary coincidence, how did they find out? Are our personal emails and texts now spied on by – or for the benefit of – private companies? I’ve always known that the State can hack into our Facebook accounts; but this appears to go much further than that.
Not that I’m worried for myself – I’ve never to my knowledge used email or messaging to communicate content that might compromise or even embarrass me in any way. But what if, in the future, I did need to communicate information privately? Is there any way of doing it now, short of whispering in someone’s ear? And even then I might need to ensure that my TV, laptop or i-phone weren’t nearby. I read somewhere that they can pick up conversations even when they’re switched off.
I suppose we could all go back to writing old-fashioned paper letters. And delivering them personally, to avoid interception by the Post Office. (That’s been going on since 1845 at least. See my Plots and Paranoia.)
Mother, father and child are doing well, by the way. But I won’t be Moonpigging them.