Privacy In America Essay

Privacy In America Essay-87
Alexa eavesdrops in our homes, Google remembers our most revealing searches, and even churches are using facial recognition to find out who is sitting in the pews.We are starting to see a bigger picture of limitless monitoring: a world where the watchers never reach the point of “enough” information and instead require an ever-expanding data set about our movements, buying patterns, online activity, and workplace productivity.

Alexa eavesdrops in our homes, Google remembers our most revealing searches, and even churches are using facial recognition to find out who is sitting in the pews.We are starting to see a bigger picture of limitless monitoring: a world where the watchers never reach the point of “enough” information and instead require an ever-expanding data set about our movements, buying patterns, online activity, and workplace productivity.But even as surveillance becomes a dominant force organizing our world, most Americans haven’t had an informed conversation about how it is changing the way we live, work, play, and even wage war.

In fact, Americans have complex, ambivalent feelings about surveillance.

We might be excited to hear that a digital pill can tell our doctor via Bluetooth that our meds have been ingested on time, but worry what will happen once the insurance companies know the contents of our stomach.

In the anxious years since 9/11, surveillance has become one of the essential infrastructures for 21st-century social life, commerce, and government.

With an endless number of drones, sensors, scanners, archives, and algorithms constantly at work for governments and corporations alike, these technologies of monitoring, securing, and sorting are not always visible to the naked eye, but are always humming in the background in ways that we have barely begun to understand.

Social psychologists looking at workplace surveillance have found ample evidence that even the threat of surveillance is enough to change behavior, making workers “follow rules more carefully and act more subservient,” as well as experiencing greater stress, a loss of personal control, and “a decreased sense of procedural justice.” It’s harder to work when you know a camera is perched over your shoulder and productivity software is analyzing your keystrokes for maximum efficiency.

Employers might like such productivity metrics, but rarely consider the cost to workers who feel like they have no place to hide. In this sense, surveillance can add an emotional charge to an existing atmosphere: It may even channel our chaotic energies into officially approved channels with names like vigilance, dread, fear, relief, certainty, permanence, compliance, consumption, adding a layer of meaning to the social scene that we can feel in our gut or on the back of our neck.

But if Americans assume it can’t happen here, they’re not paying attention.

Consider the potential abuses of workplace surveillance.

We might want a smart refrigerator to order milk when we run out, but might not want the Internet of Things to listen to everything in our “smart home,” especially when we have a family crisis unfolding, such as a teenager dealing with drug addiction or a pregnancy scare.

We might like taking nature photos with our own small drone, but wince when laws don’t prevent a creepy neighbor from flying his drone over our teenager’s backyard pool party.

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Comments Privacy In America Essay

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