How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism
And just think, they were documenting Miss Witt’s activities and conversations by hand, back in the 1970s and ‘80s. Now, nearly every single aspect of our lives is being recorded in real time. Every email, every text, every phone conversation. Every time you allow your phone to know where you are, your whereabouts are noted. Soon, that Internet of Things — IoT — which already connects 50 billion “things” through an internet of its own, will be coming to your refrigerator, your dishwasher, your coffeemaker. Happy Alexa and GE “smart fridge” commercials are airing as we speak.
And not only are we letting all of this happen, we’re welcoming it. Twenty years ago, it was Miss Witt’s friends who recorded her personal conversations, and strangers who spied on her. But as she has noted, these days, we give a lot of our privacy away of our own free will. If someone were parked outside your house, surveilling you day and night, it would be unnerving, no? But we’re fine keeping our phones on us 24/7, and telling Facebook personal details about ourselves.
We do this because of the convenience, which will be increasing in scope as quickly as do the various surveillance mechanisms. Will it be convenient when your fridge tells your phone that you’re running low on orange juice (as the bottle will have a sensor, too)? Perhaps.
But will it be convenient when that same fridge tells your health insurance company that you’ve got ice cream in the freezer? And when your rates go up because of it?
Worse – will it be convenient when that fridge listens to your kitchen conversations and tells the government that you’ll be organizing a political discussion group on Tuesday? Or when it tells that bizarre man you went on one date with, who hacked your system, that your daughter has a recital this Friday night?
This is not a conspiracy theory. This is an extrapolation of what happens when people who crave power gain access to vast amounts of personal information.
The more you tell Facebook, or Siri, or Google, or FourSquare, or your phone, or your washing machine, then the more of your own personal power and privacy you’re giving up. (And the more photos you post of your young children, the more of their power you’re relinquishing. So, parents — stop. Now.)
Bottom line: Once the state (or a company) knows your weaknesses, they can exploit them. They can go after you in myriad ways. And I don’t just mean to “punish” you… I mean to manipulate you.
If a politician has access to your personal proclivities, then he can easily craft, via Artificial Intelligence, a targeted campaign that caters to exactly what the data tell him you want to hear. In the future, he could even warp news stories, video and even audio in real time to appeal to you for gain.