We have come a very long way from Benjamin Franklin and his so often quoted and even more often misquoted words on sacrificing liberty for the sake of security. Technology has allowed us to be virtually present at virtually all times at virtually any corner of the globe. We have even conquered imaginary worlds and are on our way to Mars.
However, as humans, we remain inherently flawed and the most powerful tech in the world can just as easily be used to foster growth or wreak havoc. The questions that were once raised by the Manhattan Project are burning brighter than they did at the time – do we need to sacrifice some of our privacy to live in a more secure world, and if so, how much? Or does privacy still trump security, even at the price of our very lives?
The Question of Cambridge Analytica
I can’t write this article today without asking this question. How have we suddenly woken up in a world where the data we feed into a social media network is used to help a presidential candidate win an election?However, if we do a little research, we will realise that this chain of events has been very long in the making. Take the example of Max Schrems, who has had access to a large chunk of the data Facebook stores about him two years ago.We have always known that social networks know a lot about us. We know that search engines know a lot about us. Sometimes an alarming lot. Yet are we fine with this? If the price of preventing another 9/11 is a watchdog in the form of a crawler who has access to every single word we type on any keypad, are we willing to accept it?In the world of Big Data – how do we know that our little fragment of data, so insignificant as part of the big picture, but still invaluable to us, is safe?
Data Security does not Equal Data Privacy
The first important issue to clarify is that data security is not the same as data privacy.The aim of data security is to keep your data safe from theft and misuse. There are tons of protocols in place that ensure that your personal information (especially your credit card numbers) cannot be accessed easily.However, privacy is the right of any individual to be free from uninvited scrutiny and attention. That means that whoever has access to your information is actually invading your privacy. If Google knows all about your fetishes, is your privacy protected, and is that even important?
Is Paranoia the Modern Way of Life?
Admittedly, I am raising a lot of questions here, and not providing many answers. I can still swing this article either way, and cast my vote either in favour of privacy or security, if truth be told.
I often hear people expressing their opinions from both camps. Some of us believe that we are being watched all the time. Others believe that these folks are just paranoid. Which is when we come to ask ourselves is this simply the modern way of life, and should we even be asking these questions, or simply accept the realities of the world we have helped create.
A Meeting with Big Brother
An unparalleled social experiment, the Big Brother franchise has given us all an opportunity to take a look into the lives of others. Sci-Fi and dystopian fiction have been tackling the issue for decades. Yet we have not actually come out much the wiser.
If we accept that our reality is to live in a world surrounded by cameras and microphones, we need to educate ourselves on the issue, and act accordingly. We should also be made aware of who is watching us and when, shouldn’t we? If there really is someone, a flesh and bone person who is right now looking at me typing away at this article, is he even bothered by me? Is he there merely to make sure I am not plotting against the world? Or is he really invading my privacy, by watching my private thought process?
A Silver Lining?
Let’s take the issue of security and CCTV cameras. If an accident occurs at an intersection where there is no camera, will the insurance companies and the police figure out who broke the law? On the other hand, what happens to all the footage of accident-free minutes and hours?
With the rise in remote monitored CCTV business surveillance options, there are new ways to protect your offices and places of work. There are even some that have combined our yearn for privacy with our need for security.
Panic buttons and alarms keep us safe at all times. There is no doubt that the fact that there is likely a camera watching you as you walk down the street deters some from committing a crime. And where does that leave us in our quest for an answer?
A Marvelian Question
This article has actually sprung to life after watching one of the MCU movies. In Winter Soldier, Hydra has finally managed to drive the world into such a state of terror and fear, that the world is ready to accept constant monitoring. Yet, in another MCU flick, the fact that the tesseract can be tracked by the use of mobile cameras and microphones helps save the world.
In the absence of an actual answer to the issue of smothering privacy on the altar of security – I will offer a point of view. The only thing constant in life is change. As our realities change, so must we adapt to them. Knowing that we live in a world where our very souls are bared at times has become a necessity.
While sharing as much information with the internet does make for better ad targeting, better YouTube playlists and can help you connect and reconnect with the world, you must never forget that you only need to share what you want to share. No social network is forcing you – and will likely demand even less from you as the Facebook scandal continues to unfold – to provide too much information.
And while we may have forever lost true privacy, we have also undoubtedly gained something. If nothing else, then at least a platform for sharing these thoughts with others.
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