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Intersections: Saying goodbye to the Internet is hard to do

December 11, 2013

This week, 27-year-old Glendale resident Karen Kazaryan was sentenced to five years in federal prison for hacking into the accounts of hundreds of female victims and coercing them to send naked pictures of themselves to him.

U.S. District Judge George H. King called Kazaryan a “cyber-terrorist,” and sentencing papers from prosecutors outline his goals when he gained access into the Facebook, email and Skype accounts of his victims: “to get more naked pictures in any way he could, and get more victims.”

In some cases, he obtained photos from the accounts themselves and used them to extort victims to provide more. If they refused, he published the original photos online.

Kazaryan's sentencing came on the heels of another story making the rounds that is equally as shocking: U.S. and British spy agencies had infiltrated popular online games World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and gathering information on players who they feared might use the games to communicate secretly and set up terrorist attacks.

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It's even said they used the games to find potential future agents to recruit.

Perhaps in the world of Snowden revelations, Facebook status updates contributing to firings, burglaries and marriages ending in divorce — and lest we forget, the Glendale School District's plans to monitor student posts that made headlines both in the United States and overseas — to call these stories “shocking” isn’t fitting.

All of this, coupled with research studies that show the impact social media has on mental health and the unhealthy reliance we have on technology is increasingly leading me to a decision I feel I am forced to make:

“Dear Internet, I feel like we need to break up. It's not just you, it's me, too.

“As much as I like you, and have championed you since the days of that glorious, off-note connection noise that signaled I was signed on to AOL from my land line, I feel your ways are disrupting my life.

“In addition to recent spying revelations, an increase in “sextortion” cases and that time I ordered a baby shower gift for a friend and then, because of the information you had gathered on me, received everything from Pampers to coupons for baby formula addressed to me for an entire year, you have affected my ability to concentrate. Focusing is getting increasingly difficult.”

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