Privacy is dead.

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).

An example of this is Facebook’s privacy policy. Reports have found that Facebook’s latest privacy policies are in violation of European privacy and data protection laws. Facebook has been in violation of these laws since 2013 and their latest policy updates have only served to expand on this. Facebook are denying they are violating any laws, whilst continuing to gather “user-generated content for commercial purposes” – and there are no viable options for users to legally consent to this aggregation (Gibbs 2015).

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:

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.

Gibbs, S. 2015. Facebook’s privacy policy breaches European law, report finds. The Guardian. Accessed 6/4/2015, available at:

About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
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2 Responses to Privacy is dead.

  1. I really appreciate your inclusion of the perspective of Edward Snowden in your analysis of privacy within the digital context. I think most internet users have doubted their commitment to certain causes and their willingness to engage in digital communication of any kind e.g. lingual, financial etc, when conscious of the constantly changing laws of the U.S. regarding intellectual property and global communications, which inevitably impact all U.S. allies, Australia included, via deals such as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as well as the surveillance of employees and prospective employees by recruitment agencies or interviewers via social media.
    It would have been good to explore some of the Australian experiences of privacy infringement and citizen freedom in recent years in order to personalise your investigation, possibly by discussing recent Metadata Retention Laws ( or regional issues with lack of access to social media platforms due to government intervention (

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