Many people fear it already, the idea that individual privacy is quite possibly a thing of the past. With legislation in play that could potentially put our Internet histories onto the open market for the highest bidders, it’s almost no surprise the leaps and bounds technology has taken to infringe on individual privacy. Consider already how many of you might have surprisingly custom-tailored advertisements all over your Facebook pages now, just because you looked at one item on Amazon or watched one video on Youtube. And that is only a piece of the metaphorical pie.
Surveillance used to be an incredible technology when traffic lights had installed cameras in order to snap photos of offending drivers who sped through busy intersections or rolled through stop signs or red lights. Or the days when wire tapping was the most advanced method of spying on individuals or the private sector. Now, modern society has evolved to the point of private citizens owning piloted drones that effectively give them access into the lives of other people that they would not otherwise have without permission to be anywhere near that person’s property.
We’ve all seen the television shows that also feature cellphones being utilized in secrecy as spy cameras or mobile evidence databases for anyone bright enough to hack into wireless signals. Some people even believe this technology is being utilized by law enforcement as focused as local levels. Their suspicions don’t seem to stop there. Basically any appliance in your home that is computerized, they theorize, is susceptible to being hacked and utilized as a way to spy on you remotely. And with more and more machinery relying on computer technology (just think of how advanced something as rudimentary as washing machines and refrigerators have gotten in the last few years), these conspiracy theories can sound rather convincing and panic-inducing for those who give them credence.
The scariest reality of all, however, lies in the palm of our hands. With our cell phones and multitude of mobile applications available for instant download at our fingertips, devices that can fit easily into our pockets have become as advanced (and sometimes even moreso) as many personal computers currently on the market. Just consider all the things you use your phone to accomplish on a daily basis: you have the obvious functions like making phone calls and sending text messages. But, now we also use our phones as alarm clocks, managing our daily schedules, sending and receiving important documents via e-mail. We play games, listen to our music, pay our bills, and even communicate in real time using nothing but our phones and a wireless signal.
And now, there are even applications that allow us – nay, encourage us – to record other people on the fly. Several apps already exist that are being pushed forward by local authorities to extend the capabilities of the average citizen in the participation of information networking regarding crime. Certainly a great idea in theory. With how quickly information already travels in the modern age, relaying useful communications anonymously to law enforcement would certainly seem to make their job that much easier and one would think it would discourage crime as a whole. But, what exactly are we putting into the hands of the average citizen?
How many incidents of pure technological advancements have suffered due to sour personal agendas that have tainted the overall purpose of the technology in the first place? Consider unmanned drones. Initially implemented primarily by the military for training and to encourage unmanned missions and reduce the risk of human life in the field of battle, we have now advanced to having such technologies available to the private citizen to use, for the most part, however they please.
While many might see this as little more than a conspiracy theory in and of itself (and hopefully that is all it turns out to be) there are surely those who could see the use of such technology as means to a spiteful or malicious end if they so chose. Even despite the good intentions of local law enforcement to involve the common citizen into the fight against crime, there is the terrible and frightful possibility that the common citizen might one day need to consider a criminal defense of their own due simply to something as simple as a personal grudge or feud.
For a while now, the average citizen was always cautioned against what they said in conversation. It seems the paranoia might slowly be shifting toward fully watching our own actions around other private citizens.