Is our privacy at risk in this digital era?

In a digital era where internet has become indispensable for us all and technology is experiencing a huge growth, it is needless to say that monitoring society has become a lot easier.

Big companies, such as FaceBook, Google, Apple and SnapChat, are providing us with multiple opportunities to make our lives easier: you now have access to information all around the world, you can even see your dog when he is 1.000 miles away from you and tell him that he is a good boy, and he could hear you. Internet made this possible for us.

But at what cost? The internet, says Edward Snowden, once heralded as an unprecedented tool of liberation and democratization has been converted by The United States and his partners into an unprecedented zone of mass, indiscriminate surveillance.

‘People have gotten comfortable not only sharing more information in different kinds, but more openly and with more people, and that’s the norm […] and we view this as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norm is.’ This is a statement made in 2010 by the CEO of FaceBook, Mark Zuckerberg, which means, in other words. that privacy is no longer a social norm and therefore it is permitted to cause invasions of privacy since people don’t care about it.

Moreover, the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, in an infamous interview back in 2009, when asked about the ways his company was invading the privacy of people around the world he responded:If you’re doing something that you don’t want other people to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.’ The year before the interview, Schmidt blacklisted CNET reporters from Google after the tech news company published an article with information about his salary, neighborhood, hobbies, and political donations — all obtained from Google searches.

You and I, as human beings, instinctively understand the profoundimportance of privacy. Although it is true that we are social animals and we have a need for other people to know what we are thinking and saying and doing which is why we voluntarily publish information about ourselves online, we are also seeking a place where we can be free of the judgmental eyes of the others. We want to be free and fulfilled human beings and therefore we engage in the current social norms by sharing personal information to an unknown audience, but in the same time we want to have our realm of privacy, a place where we can think, reason, interact and speak without having the judgmental eyes of others cast at us.

There is a reason why privacy is craved universally and instinctively and that reason is that when you and I are in a state where we can be watched, our behavior changes dramatically. This is just a fact of human nature: the range of behavioral options that we consider when we think we are being watched severely reduce and the behavior we decide to engage in is more conformist and compliant. ‘Human shame is a very powerful motivator, as is the desire to avoid it, and that’s the reason why people, when they’re in a state of being watched, make decisions not that are the byproduct of their own agency but that are about the expectations that others have of them or the mandates of societal orthodoxy.’- Green Greenwald.

By being part of a society in which people can be monitored at any given moment, by allowing such a society to exist, we severely cripple the essence of human freedom; we can be in our bed at 2 in the morning chatting with our friend from China, we can receive Snapchats from our bestfriend’s trip in Canada and even share how we feel about Trump’s latest interviews on Twitter. In this digital era we have benefits, there is no doubt, but there is one question you and I should ask ourselves: ‘Is it worth the cost?’

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