We have reached a point where we are so embedded in a surveillance culture that people automatically alter themselves to fit into it. This was one of the (many) points that Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower, made in the acclaimed documentary ‘Citizenfour’, which really hit home for me.
“…people self-police their own views, and they literally make jokes about ending up on “the list” if they donate to a political cause or if they say something in a discussion. And it’s become an expectation that we’re being watched.”
-Edward Snowden, Citizenfour
I thought of how often I have withheld online because I’ve considered who is receiving my information after I hit send, enter, search, ok, confirm payment. I may forget in a few months, hey maybe even in a few hours, but data never forgets. Data lives forever (Chen 2011, Citizenfour 2014).
Much of the surveillance on us from private businesses and governments alike is invisible, purposefully undetectable (Chen 2011, Evans 2015). Groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are constantly working together to generate some form of transparency and strengthen regulation around this surveillance. The problem they face is that once any new legislation is confirmed, new technologies have already been developed that create different avenues to violate privacy, and the few laws that are in place are not strictly enforced (Chen 2011).
Tor developer, Jacob Appelbaum, observed that “what we used to call liberty and freedom we now call privacy…and now people are saying privacy is dead” (Citizenfour 2014). Considering technology is constantly outpacing laws and regulations intended to uphold our basic right to privacy, it would seem privacy is indeed dead.
Chen, B X. 2011. ‘iSpy: The end of privacy’ in Always On, Cambridge MA Da Capo Press. Accessed 24/3/15, available at: https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/386036/mod_resource/content/1/iSpyBrianChen.pdf
Citizenfour. 2014. Praxis Films, Participant Media, HBO Films, United States & Germany, directed by Laura Poitras. Starring Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum.
Evans, N. 2015. From surveillance to Uberveillance, audio recording of lecture, BCM310, Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, University of Wollongong, delivered 30/3.