If you’re anything like me, then you probably would feel more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of someone sitting right outside your window right now, looking into your home, and watching every move you make. It’s like that song by The Police, except it’s not Sting who’s got his eye on you, and it isn’t over in two and a half minutes. Rather, it’s large, privately-owned corporations who are doing the snooping. And they don’t do it by stalking you around in a completely blacked-out Cadillac Escalade. Using the internet, companies have begun the practice of virtually tracking users, as a way of gathering data on persons generally without their consent or knowing of the situation. This data collection doesn’t come in the way of surveys or questionnaires, just straight-forward, blunt, peeping into the lives of the population. This calls into question dubious legal issues and the ever leering balance of morality that seems to always be in a state of suspicious motivation. (Though usually it’s a safe bet to go ahead and assume that the motive is usually money over anything else) The most concerning aspect of this sort of manipulation of the law, is the Orwellian way in which a government power could abuse these tactics of intrusion.
When discussing this topic in the Intro to Mass Communications class, I was really kind of appalled by how much of a wash the topic was. It seemed as though either very few cared, or the majority of my peers were just ambivalent and accepting of this development. I recall, in fact, that one of my fellow students actually agreed to the notion that we as citizens are not to feel secure in their own digital lives, inferring that privacy in the modern age is something more akin to a privilege than a right. And though it is technically true to that there is no constitutional backing to internet protection. I would assume that is because the INTERNET DID NOT EXIST WHEN THE CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN. I honestly feel that some people have begun to just give up when it comes to corporate takeover. What can be done? Money is god, and the companies have all the money – using it to advance their own agendas in Congress (lobbying) to benefit only themselves. This is a train wreck waiting to happen. And though this is becoming to sound somewhat tangential to the argument concerning privacy in their lives, it really is a big part of it. Because clearly some sort of reform needs to made to protect the people’s interests, not those of the white men in suits.
The most ironic aspect of this happening is the fact that even in our textbook, (Media and Culture, pg. 557) is that there is a section concerning the journalistic code to uphold a person’s right to privacy, when addressing the media’s usage of “unauthorized tape recording, photographing, wiretapping…” This clearly shows a level of hypocrisy and a lack of understanding amongst people concerning what rights they do have. Te Electronics Communicatons Privacy Act of 1986 is also addressed, which clearly states how people should not be intruded on, even virtually, but thanks to he PATRIOT Act of 2001, the government gets to decide with more malleability what that can translate to.
Scarier than a puppeted government, however, is the ramifications that the U.S. government can have if the whole debacle concerning Yahoo and its refusal to hand over the data of its users. The NRA as an institution is an utter joke. Basically serving the role of a second, more-disorganized, overwhelmed (due to the sheer amounts of data it collects) CIA, the NRA brings little to the table in terms of any sort of national security, and comes off more like a probing finger in a crowd of people. It’s there, and it’s annoying. And more rules need to be set in place to determine what is and isn’t okay to do on the internet. If I personally went through your computer files, sifting through all your history to serve my own mysterious purposes, you would consider me a hacker. Why are large corporations (yet again) and the government being let off the hook for otherwise illegal activities and not being held up to a higher standard.