control over digital
life not unobserved
Feel bad about life during the on going covid news cycle?
Want to feel worse?
Read We’re About to Find Out What Happens When Privacy Is All but Gone by Alex Kingsbury, a member of the NYT’s editorial board.
If you don’t have access to the NYT (Hint Hint, when your free 3 day account from your local library expires, go back to the local library digital page and click where some nice webmaster has written ‘Go here to get another free 3 day account.’
If your local library digital page wasn’t written by a nice webmaster (there are some of us) then I apologize and here is the gist of what Mr. Kingsbury said.
Whenever I see one of those billboards that read: “Privacy. That’s iPhone,” I’m overcome by the urge to cast my own iPhone into a river. Of lava.
That’s not because the iPhone is any better or worse than other smartphones when it comes to digital privacy. (I’d take an iPhone over an Android phone in a second; I enjoy the illusion of control over my digital life as much as the next person.)
What’s infuriating is the idea that carrying around the most sophisticated tracking and monitoring device ever forged by the hand of man is consistent with any understanding of privacy. It’s not. At least not with any conception of privacy our species had pre-iPhone.
Protecting digital privacy is not in the interest of the government, and voters don’t seem to care much about privacy at all. Nor is it in the interest of tech companies, which sell user private data for a profit to advertisers. There are too many cameras, cell towers and inscrutable artificial intelligence engines in operation to live an unobserved life.
For years, privacy advocates, who foresaw the contours of the surveilled world we now live in, warned that privacy was a necessary prerequisite for democracy, human rights and a flourishing of the human spirit. We’re about to find out what happens when that privacy has all but vanished.
I think back when George Orwell wrote 1984, he only put cameras that could monitor citizens in a few strategic locations instead of having every citizen carry a monitoring device because he was striving for a level of disbelief that could be believed.
Had you painted the world of today for Mr. Orwell back in 1949 he would have said that no world could be that crazy.
Got to run, my iPhone is ringing.