This term at college I’m taking a political science class and the topic of the Patriot Act and NSA snooping came up. I think we all agreed that, yes what the government is doing is unconstitutional. Read the 4th Amendment. However, after 9/11 most Americans were willing to give up a portion of their privacy to be protected from overseas terrorist’s plots. As 9/11 fades further in our memories, and younger generations who don’t even remember 9/11 become adults, will we still tolerate the government snooping into our business? But it’s not just the government that knows us inside and out: It’s also Google, Facebook, or any other social media service we use.
I think it needs to be clearly stated that the Internet is not a private place. It’s like being seated in the middle of a crowded restaurant having a loud conversation with a friend. The NSA is writing down your order. Google is storing your every bite. Facebook is showing your friends ads for the restaurant you like. Instagram is uploading photos of your food. Twitter is posting your random thoughts that probably should never be shared, and hackers are reaching into your wallet stealing your credit card numbers and identity. Of course none of these services can get this information, unless we share it.
If we want privacy, we’ll have to ditch our phones and computers. Of course in some locations that may not be good enough if your being videotaped by a surveillance camera or spy satellite. I don’t even think caves would be enough protection. The military probably has the capability to listen in on conversations there too. So what should we do about it?
Well for one, legislation needs to be drafted immediately to protect law-abiding American citizens from malicious attacks, if our data is used in the wrong way. Think of all the Google searches you’ve done, all the sites you’ve visited, all the ex love interests you’ve looked up on Facebook, all the embarrassing health questions you’ve had, all the political commentary you’ve posted, all the photos, all the Tweets, all the purchases you’ve made online, and on and on and on.
Just imagine what a candidate could do to his or her political opponent with all that information sitting in a computer.
In the short-term, I think we would all do well to remember that there is no privacy online. None in reality. If you really don’t want anyone to know something about you, keep it to yourself. Of course, one day I’m sure there will be the technology to read our minds. Then I’ll really be in trouble!