Summer Dickerson Dickerson 1 Professor Maruyama English 1A 7 October 2012 The Insidious Attack on American Privacy: Big Brother is Watching Americans are under attack. More specifically, privacy as many Americans understand it, is vanishing into thin air. As a matter of fact, with the increase of technology specified to monitor activities from web browsing to current location, privacy is beginning to resemble a thought instead of a right.
George Orwell’s 1984 serves equally important in grasping why Americans are currently losing the battle against privacy. Correspondingly, Orwell provides the reader with haunting examples of monitoring devices used to control privacy, such as, “Thought Police”, “Police Patrols”, and “ Telescreens. ” While these examples are fictitious, and serve as entertainment to the reader, in reality Americans are under surveillance at all times whether inconspicuous or forthright.
Once thought as intimate to the individual, the impending loss of privacy due to constant surveillance, is not only invasive and crude- but surprisingly treacherous. Unless American Society decides to safe-guard private materials, and secure important information without being duped by privacy scams, America will walk in fear, always being watched and manipulated. Further, in analyzing privacy concerns, children and youth are the most vulnerable to a number of privacy threats.
Moreover, the attack on American youth’s privacy is evident in cases such as: data captured from web surfing, surveys that ask sensitive questions about themselves and their families, and profiling tools (Mosaic) to identify youth who are supposedly predisposed to Dickerson 2 violence, and then share that information with law enforcement. Additionally, 1984 almost completely mirrors this growing phenomenon, whereas the protagonist Winston states, There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.
How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever They wanted to. You had to live- did live, from habit that became instinct- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized. (3) Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Although America is not completely in a state of total surveillance as previously described by Winston, privacy or the lack thereof proves to be drastically changing.
In like manner, another disturbing practice used to watch American Society is Behavioral Targeting. In essence, Behavioral Tracking refers to the practice of collecting and compiling a record of individual consumer’s online activities, interests, preferences, and communications over time. Once the consumer’s online activity is established Behavioral tracking then uses advertisements to market to the consumer based on his or her behavioral record.
In light of this pervasive tracking technology, in 2010, the Wall Street Journal published a study which assessed and analyzed the surveillance technologies that many companies are using on the internet. The study revealed, The nations top 50 websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors. This tracking is done by tiny files and programs known as cookies, flash cookies, and beacons. These tools scan in real time what people are Dickerson 3 doing on a webpage, then instantly assesses location, income, shopping interests nd even medical conditions. Some tools reappear even after users delete them. These behavioral profiles are constantly refreshed and sold to advertisers for marketing purposes. Advertisers pay a premium to follow people around the internet with highly specific marketing messages. (WSJ) With this in mind, it is important to realize that advertisers are using new, relatively unknown technologies to track American consumers, specifically because many consumers have not heard of these techniques.
The combination of disguised tracking technologies, choice-invalidating techniques, and models, inevitably trick consumers into revealing personal data. This suggests that advertisers do not view individuals as autonomous beings. The expansion of behavioral tracking and targeting of consumers poses a threat to privacy rights. As it continues, behavioral tracking will further threaten privacy in ways that many American consumers are largely unaware of. Smile, you are on camera. Americans are familiar with videotaping in convenience stores, shopping malls, and city streets.
Common forms of video monitoring devices are readily available on the market today. While these systems may capture individuals faces on video, they do not have the ability to identify. Yet, at the 2001 Superbowl in Tampa, Florida, for the first time, Americans learned of something called “ Facial Recognition Biometrics. ” A term used for the many ways we humans can be identified by unique aspects of our bodies. It is not difficult to envision how such systems could be used to identify, say for example, individuals who participate in public demonstrations against unpopular government actions.
Further, the use of facial recognition is growing by leaps and bounds. For example, Disneyland, “The happiest place on Earth”, utilizes Dickerson 4 facial recognition to connect guests photos to their credit card information. It is evident in that post terrorist attack September 11, the biometrics industry is booming. An August 2011 Carnegie- Mellon study concluded that, Several airports in the U. S. and other countries have installed facial recognition iometrics systems to identify individuals on law enforcements “most- wanted” lists. Biometrics technologies are seen by the financial service industries as a way to deter fraud. Many casinos now use facial biometrics to identify known card-counters and cheaters and expel them from their facilities. (CMS) Looking ahead, with the widespread adoption on many monitoring devices, privacy and civil liberties of the American People are in grave danger. In the future, such systems could easily be developed as tools for social control.
By the same token, if one system was widely adopted, say fingerprinting, the many data bases containing the digitized versions could be combined. Law enforcement authorities would likely want to take advantage of these massive databases for other purposes, especially if we were to enter a time of social unrest. George Orwell’s 1984 description of a dystopian society completely mirrors where America is headed in the future. Unless law enforcement and other government users establish guidelines and strict oversight of such systems, many innocent individuals are likely to be apprehended.