Copyright: Terrance Emerson

The recent passing of the “Investigatory Powers Act” by the British government has made me think about the idea of surveillance again. The bill has received a lot of criticism from many people due to its scale. Edward Snowden, for example, tweeted “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes farther than many autocracies.”

However, while people are outraged, they tend to forget that the “spying tools” that were legalised by the bill, have been used by the British Intelligence Service for years already. This isn’t a radical change in the way that the government surveil the people. As far as I can tell, this changes nothing.

I’ve grown up in a world where constant surveillance has always been a thing. A world in which I know that all my Google searches, all my “private” messages, all my photos might be seen by someone, somewhere.

I walk around London and forget that CCTV cameras are recording my every move. Whenever I take a plane, I know that all my personal belongings are being scanned by some random person behind a computer. I display my life on social media, by posting photos and status updates, telling my friends (and the NSA) about all my interests, feelings and opinions.

Why am I so fine with my huge lack of privacy?

Is it because I have nothing to hide?

This idea of having nothing to hide is the argument that I hear the most when reading about the issue of surveillance nowadays, and I find myself agreeing with it very often. In his book, Social Media, Meikle states that “for the most part, many people seem either happy or resigned to acquiesce in the exchange of personal visibility for claims of security or for access to services.”

That’s exactly how I feel: I’m not a terrorist, I’m not doing anything illegal, why should I care if the police can look through my files?

Deep down, I think it is because I am okay with giving away my privacy so that I can have an online presence. In New Media and Changing Perceptions of Surveillance, Albrechtslund argues that “sharing information is essential to the social interaction; in other words, surveillance practices actually facilitate online social networking.” The rise of social media has completely changed the way that surveillance should be looked at.

How am I supposed to have an active Facebook account if I am not willing to give out any personal information? Intelligence agencies used to have to dig deep to find out a person’s interests and constant whereabouts. Now all they need is to look at the person’s social media activity. We have become accustomed to the fact that if we want to take part in this amazing new thing that is social media, we will have to make some sacrifices, one of which is our privacy.

And those who do want to fight this lack of privacy are stuck in a weird grey area in which the platforms they must use to protest are the ones they are protesting in the first place.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.