I am totally down with freedom, liberty and all that shit. Completely fine with it. And I don’t think that governments should be allowed to do what they want with people. But I am not sure that I equate a government using Google and Facebook data as an information source for tracking crime with the Stasi, which is what some people were doing today after The Guardian broke the story about.
This doesn’t mean I am OK with it. I am not OK with adverts popping up – trying to sell me things based on what I have previously bought/searched for internetically. But I just get the internet for free; I don’t mean the broadband I access, I pay for that, I mean the internet. Want to find something? I google it. Want to bore people with my pathetic existence? Facebook and Google are there. Send people mail instantly and magically? They got that covered as well.
I am fine with my privacy not being 100% uncompromised. This is not how you are supposed to feel . I am supposed to be outraged. And if you’re not outraged you are some kind of sympathiser for a Big Brother society. Which I’m not. I read 1984 and I was ruddy appalled by what was going on in that book. Am I saying this isn’t a gradation of a society without thought? Well, to some degree I suppose it is.
You’re definitely not supposed to think that you have nothing to hide and therefore that is reason enough to be fine with it. That said…no…yes…it is a bit scary that they can dig and delve into peoples’ lives. I am clearly ideologically compromised as there is a part of my thinking that goes like this: they’re looking for people involved in bad things. Are they interested in my Twitter stati about United’s midfield problems? No. But let’s not be flippant. They WILL be interested in what other people are saying, people who have also not done anything wrong but are emailing about something more liable to be twisted into a reason to waterboard them.
So, yes: it is pretty fucked up. It is also not OK to say they can do whatever they want with information because of the threat of terrorism. This in itself is some kind of meta-terrorism, second level of terrorism – using the fear or fear mongers as a reason to look into everyone’s lives.
And I suppose this is why I am wrong to be so shruggy about it. After all: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? That’s right I GOOGLED (now who is a tool of irony, Google?) ‘who will watch the watchmen’ and found out where it comes from. But who does control the people of the world with the power and the tools to look into peoples’ lives?
As long as it is an open and honest covert investigation into the private activity of people on the internet then are we all OK with it? David Simon (of The Wire fame) argues suggests that it is. It is hard not to be compelled by someone asking that justifiable surveillance based on abstract data can be used to stop people losing their lives and society threatened then should we use it?
But maybe that’s just because he wrote The Wire.
I think it is fair to say I haven’t really made a point here.