First things first, I’m a pretty big conspiracy theorist. Not so much the idea of wearing a sandwich board and screaming about the end of the world, but more about the belief in things that others refuse to see. So when it comes to big-foot, aliens or any 9/11 theories, I don’t really get scared. What does scare me is the lengths our government could potentially be going to, to keep an eye on us.
When it comes to government surveillance, we basically have to give up privacy, in order for our safety. So for example, when governing bodies or the police are searching through millions of people’s data in an act of counter terrorism, there is gonna be times where an innocent person’s privacy is breached, I for one understand if my privacy is sacrificed in order to save some lives, but I do understand where some people may become fearful of their own lives being under a microscope. It’s 2017 and a lot of groups of people who used to be in the minority because of their ethnicity or sexuality are now able to be themselves and speak freely of what they believe, but recently a governing body in America made a strange request that may change that. The Department of Justice tried to force an internet company to hand over the personal information about everyone that visited a website that ‘helped organise Trump inauguration protests’ (Parker, 2017). Emily Parker states in her article that the Department of Justice ‘threatened to make people increasingly afraid to exercise that right’ (Parker, 2017), when speaking of American’s right to free speech.
So, it seems to be already happening. The government are trying to bully those who are speaking their mind and believing ‘something else’ into being afraid of having a voice. I know we have privacy right acts, but as Titus Stahl states, these acts do little to ‘establish protections for political communications between citizens’ (Stahl, 2016). With these governing bodies being the ones behind the privacy acts, surely they know their way to still keep an eye on the citizens without technically breaking the law.
But what does this all mean for society? With all the advancements in social media and surveillance technology, how do we protect our own privacy? Jeramie D. Scott presents the idea of an online platform with no surveillance, a protection for ‘Privacy in Public’ (Scott, 2017), he advocates for an online platform where there is ‘no government-coordinated mass surveillance’ (Scott, 2017) and how this could create widespread content with the government, rather than a fear of being watched. Scott continues to speak of the threat that is the mass surveillance of social media data; ‘social media monitoring threatens to limit our associations (and) chill our speech’ (Scott, 2017) and he is exactly right.
It’s becoming apparent that our right to think for ourselves may be under attack.
Maybe i’m being watched right now whilst writing this post…. maybe you’re being watched whilst reading it!
Parker, E 2017. Commentary: The fight for internet freedom in Trump’s America. Reuters.
Scott, J 2017. Social Media and Government Surveillance: The case for better privacy protections for our newest public space. Journal of Business & Technology law.
Stahl, T 2016. Indiscriminate mass surveillance and the public sphere. Springer.