In the past, when confronted with the topic of privacy and the American government, my philosophy was “if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide.” Then I watched Citizenfour and heard from Edward Snowden himself the reason he blew the whistle. When our keystokes, websites, and phones are being tracked, a picture is painted based on analytics. Algorithms lack the ability to determine choice. Or back story. In the same way that Pandora thinks I like Celine Dion, (I’m sure she is a fine person but her music gives me the hives.) a story is written with numbers. I could be arrested because of the content of my life, not because of its substance. A fine distinction, but an important one. It is entirely possible that a person could be put on a series of watch lists because their childhood friend is making poor choices. Or the same for a grandparent who orders something speculative from Amazon for their grandchild.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. Just a person who believes, in her bones, that life is not worth living if we can not do so authentically. What would this world be like if we lost the ability to have open and honest conversation because of the fear of being watched. These technical abilities may not seem so daunting in the present situation, but what if there is a shift in government. What if the desire to protect our country by those that “lead” by watching its citizens turns to one of oppression by the same methods? We have already seen a president with big dreams and promises be ineffective and become part of the machine he promised to change. I believe he wanted change but the machine was too big.
Information in the wrong hands becomes a weapon pointed at us all.E