When I was a child I used to stay in my room, usually when I needed to seclude myself. This was my fortress, a safe and secure place where I believed that no one would ever have the chance to disturb me. I suppose as adults we all still have the same need to some extent. Even more, you desperately desire to preserve your own space. But despite this growing need for space and privacy, one question always pops up – is that even possible nowadays? Isn’t it naive to consider privacy as an important value in a world that spins around global tele and news communications?
“Grow up,” Ben Wittes said several times during a meeting with the WPI fellows at the Brooking institution. Grow up, nobody has his own room to hide in. All the small unconscious steps that we have taken have actually led us to this point where we all have already given up on our personal privacy.
Start with mobile phones. Every time you dial a friend you give someone else, an absolute stranger, an opportunity to understand where you are and even what you’re up to. Actually this shouldn’t be a surprise for people. They know how mobile operators work. One thing that surprised me was several months ago when a really close friend of mine said that he wouldn’t ever log onto Facebook. The fear of not being under the gaze of Big Brother stops him from joining the biggest social media network in the world. But he still has his two phones. And uses his debit and credit cards almost every day. So, are Facebook and Twitter more dangerous than phones? And do credit cards make you more vulnerable even as they add a feeling of freedom and easy living? Does anyone really think about the consequences of each purchase?
It seems like almost no one in the USA is against the surveillance of foreign countries and citizens. That’s the main reason why all agencies are created, Bill Wittes argues. But does it mean that they don’t look at your e-mail? Before the e-dash era this could perhaps have been a rhetorical question. But now, everyone has access to the web and thus to information, and is connected even with people they might never recognize on the street. This doesn’t stop us growing ever more hungry for web exposure. The internet is like a drug. We spend 114 billion minutes every month on Facebook, according to the latest Business Insider research. Instagram grabs our attention for 8 billion minutes per month. Twitter is still running behind; the Facebook audience is 7 times stronger. People spend approximately 13 to 15 minutes every day on social media and particularly Mark Zuckerberg’s baby. These platforms have become such a significant part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine not to being logged in.
It’s easy to meet friends who are away from you. It’s cool to post where you are now, with whom you are and what you are up to. Facebook’s impact runs so deep that some people post what they eat, how their Christmas eve looks like and even pictures of their unborn child. But while we’re all doing it, do we think even for a second with whom we are sharing this personal information? Isn’t there an untold agreement to share your life with everyone else in the world? Because countries have borders, and what about web? Several years ago, a colleague of mine was frustrated after a newspaper publication in which a reporter used her pictures from Facebook. In her view, this was unethical and irresponsible. She ignored her own fame and people’s interest and kept insisting on privacy. Now, 5 years later her Facebook profile has no pictures.
When you decide to upload your location to social media, you’re always asked for permission to access your pc’s data. And every given positive answer deprives you of your right to complain of restricted or robbed privacy. And yet, many people keep doing it. Is that because they don’t realise the weight of their acts, or just take the easiest way out, pretending to keep one sleepy eye open and refusing to link together all the puzzle pieces and see the whole picture? Because when the scandal with u.s. government ‘ s spy program Prism occurred, everyone seemed to be surprised. Like no one knew that countries all over the world sign agreements over surveillance cooperation and the sharing of secret data.
As Wittes would shout, grow up! I would add, do you really think this practice has only been in existence since Snowden’s revelations? Or simply, everybody suspects, but groundlessly because there is no proof. Each meeting with someone who is deep in to the surveillance and intelligence field makes me ask how manipulated I am. And it’s not because I resist growing up.
Intelligence agencies affirm every suspected should be spied on. And his family as well, friends and every man that had made contact with him. The argument is that preventive measures must be taken against future terrorist attacks. According to the young u.s. generation the price isn’t worth it. Adults are more inclined to make a compromise. But still more than half of the u.s. nation, 61% according to PEW research, don’t consider monitoring citizens as acceptable. And at the same time the percentage of distrust in government policy toward the USA security is on the rise.
Does someone play with our values and put safety and invasion of privacy on the same side of the coin? Even if the answer is yes, are we ready to give up our mobility? I don’t think that even if the u.s. government itself had revealed the secret program, years before Snowden, something might have changed. Phones, Facebook, Instagram, they are constant elements of our life. Make no mistake, I don’t agree to being monitored without any knowledge. I won’t play the role of NSA’ s PR. But if you want to be part of this social world you have to accept it the way it is. And now that we know about this, do we force something to change? Do we stop being on the web?
Privacy is destroyed not only in the internet space. Look at the streets in some,cities on whose corners you find cameras, or in hotels whose desk administrator asks for your passport because of police registration requirements. Or even in some stores when cameras tape customers in dressing rooms. We need to see, to verify whether something is true. Just like CIA needs to see data to be sure if expectations are acquitted or not.
Liberty is subjective and even deceitful. The concept is something intimаte, personal. First you have to find it inside you, because it is a part of your culture, mentality and way of thinking, as well. It changes thanks to the places you have visited, where you grew up, work and friends, your whole environment. The more you learn from books, the web and life, the more you widen your horizons. Our criteria for liberty change and expand. Personally, I’d like nothing more than to come back to my room, close the door and get onto the web without having to think about how to define the point where I lose my freedom in a space with no borders.