This post originally appeared on the USNI blog here.
WhatsApp has been hacked! Facebook sold your data! Terrorists are tracking your running routes!
Nothing is sacred. I may be a millennial, but I remember when the internet was an idyllic place full of weird AOL chat rooms and pirated Phish MP3s. Nowadays? It’s a battlefield, and you are ill equipped. For example, the Navy just declared the Chinese-owned app TikTok—which does the same thing as other social media apps, but in a cooler and shadier way—is a cybersecurity threat and advised everyone to uninstall it. If you’re 35 or older Tiktok isn’t directly targeting you, because there’s zero chance you’ve downloaded the app (if you have, you’re trying way too hard). No, TikTok is targeting your newest sailors and, maybe more importantly, your kids. No argument here. Like I said… nothing is sacred.
Yes, the internet is dark and full of terrors, but there is a glimmer of hope! I’ve teamed up with DARPA to announce a brand-new program designed to protect you from yourself in this scary information environment: Elective Reversible Amnesia and Social Eradication (ERASE)!
ERASE is an exciting new opportunity to render you invulnerable to the enemy’s attempts to target you on the internet. Let’s face it, we stink at information security and emissions control. Our ships are like fountains of electromagnetic energy and personal data whenever they enter port. ERASE takes the problem out of your hands with a simple procedure that will make it impossible for you to remember anything not pertaining to the Navy. You’ll be the sailor you’ve always dreamed of becoming! Meanwhile, the ERASE team will also eliminate any evidence that you ever existed in society (both on the internet and IRL). No more pesky distractions from family and friends! BTW, since the procedure is elective, you are responsible for all costs but we’ll dock your pay with a discreetly coded line item on your LES, and you won’t remember how much you got paid before the procedure so you won’t mind at all! The good news is, just in case you do want to keep your spouse and kids around, your family can get ERASE’d under TRICARE Prime for a very reasonable co-pay!
You’ll also be glad to know our military physicians have a 51 percent success rate in reversing the procedure and restoring your original identity. Should you have second thoughts, you’ll probably be able to go right back to living your terrifyingly risky existence on the internet (Note: zero of our test patients have elected to reverse the procedure they cannot remember having). The simple fact is ERASE is the only feasible defense against cybersecurity threats. We’ve been trying to tell you simply not to use unfamiliar information technology, but then some hot new app or “show us your Social Security Number challenge” comes along. Short of actually understanding continuously evolving information technology and how we can safely and effectively use it to our advantage, ERASE-ing yourself is the next best alternative.
Trust me, we are all on the front lines of the information battlespace and it’s only getting worse. Last week, the Office of the Secretary Defense sent out a memo to all service members warning of the unknown dangers of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, like Ancestry.com and 23andMe. The industry is mostly unregulated, and your genetic data could be used for questionable purposes. Its not enough that we protect your mind and personal data online with ERASE, now we need to protect your DNA as well! We all know you’ll just ignore the warning to stop using these tests, and there is evidence that your security (and, therefore national security) could be compromised if even your relatives take these tests. What we don’t know is how any of this really works, which is why the folks at DARPA also asked me to roll out their follow-on initiative to ERASE: Precautionary Unlikely Reversible Genetic Enhancement (PURGE)!
PURGE is an experimental, legally safe medical procedure that scrubs your DNA of any connection to your lineage, just as a precaution. Think of it as a juice cleanse for your genes! You’ll no longer be vulnerable to DNA attacks, or for that matter any of the hereditary diseases that have plagued your family for centuries. Our scientists can also code honor, courage, and commitment into your DNA, so you’ll finally be able to live up to that FITREP bullet that says you’re “the living embodiment of the Navy’s Core Values.” With the combination of PURGE and ERASE, you’ll be entrusting your DNA, your brain, and your social existence to the Navy’s competent hands, which virtually guarantees your continued promotion! Bonus!
Also, while not official DoD policy, I don’t recommend using those at-home colon cancer screening tests either. There’s no way to be sure someone won’t harvest your genetic data from your DNA “sample.” Plus, it’s just gross.