Do you remember that awkward moment during the 2012 presidential campaign when Mitt Romney said “Corporations are people too, my friend?” Well, maybe they’ve also taken on the role of Big Brother.
Back in 1949, George Orwell famously forecast that the US would be a surveillance state by “1984”. He may have gotten the year wrong by a bit, but we now know that the NSA has its fingers in almost every datastream in the country. People kinda freaked out when they realized the government could get their cell phone data, their browsing history, and even their emails.
But on the other hand, we’ve willingly given all this information to corporations, who have been gathering and compiling literally TONS of information on us via Google, Facebook, cookies, fingerprints, and all kinds of other tools. And very few folks complain, because we get something free out of it.
Morgan Spurlock looked at the issue on his CNN show Inside Man:
MORGAN: Yes. We can see the cameras watching us but these days it’s what we can’t see that’s the problem. Would you tell a stranger your address, your phone number, what about your Social Security number? Probably not. But almost all of us are giving that data away every day online. And usually we don’t even know who we’re giving it to or what they’re doing with it. It seems like every day we are getting — the world’s getting closer and closer to those — to 1984, big brother, everything we heard about when we were kids.
It took some doing, but Spurlock was eventually able to get a copy of the info one of the secretive marketing firms has on him – and it was the size of a phone book.
New “fingerprint” technology can create a digital fingerprint of your computer and browser to identify you when you surf the net, even if you have cookies turned off on your machine.
Some companies are taking steps to scale this massive privacy invasion back, offering private browsing options and extra encryption on our devices. But it’s still absurdly easy for these companies to gather data on us.
So my questions today: where does all this go from here? What are the negative consequences on us as individuals and as a society? What are the positive aspects, if any? And how will this loss of privacy impact the LGBT community, in particular?