From Passive Surveillance to Active Disruption, The Growing Reach of the Betrayal of our Privacy Sinks In.
It has taken me since June of 2013 and Edward Snowden’s NSA spying revelations to arrive at the theory that Invasion of Privacy Is Violence. My first reaction to the NSA spying news was to list all of the different possible domains which the spy agencies appeared to have access to,… in a piece called Le Presento Mi Familia. I think I was shocked and terrified to feel so vulnerable. In addition to rejecting the internet, I resolved to defend my inner privacy by choosing to wear a mask of conformity in response to mass surveillance reports which came in a steady flow every week. By March of 2014 it became clear that the tech companies colluded with the Spy agencies to make mass surveillance possible, and that the surveillance had shifted from passive surveillance (gathering content) to active disruption of the communications and relationships of people the agencies decided to harm. Now the picture has been fleshed out more and more, and we know that full-content is being taken and that agencies are engaged in worldwide espionage for trade advantages, for social control, and for dominance over other nations.
We are now inmates in a digital penitentiary.
To have been lied to about these programs and about the full reach of their spying has been a major betrayal. It has been frightening and the idea that one is being watched constantly by computers and then by possibly, analysts, is a source of chronic tension and low level sadness. Who are these arrogant, distrusting folks who feel entitled to cast suspicion on all of us citizens? How dare they violate our privacy, grabbing our data without our permission, and storing it forever without our consent?! Why should I be deprived of a sense of inner peace by Google and its ilk, knowing that their CEOs go home to a privacy space where their emails are not sniffed and their faces are not “facialrecognized”? How dare they make everyone else’s life into a full length digital documentary? No one ever gave anyone permission to do these things. We have been violated in our most fundamental right to be left alone, in our persons and possessions. We have been treated with contempt and disdain for we have been cast into the role of a nation of suspects. We are being stalked. We have been transformed from a nation of vote-casting persons to inmates confined to a digital penitentiary.
The Outer Privacy Invasions Are Inner Invasions Too.
When police scan your license plates as you pass by and store your location, time and I.D.; when they can scan your cellphone location with a false tower, share data profiles with the DEA of people entering their areas, it is over-reach. Add facial recognition scans, centralized data sharing among law enforcement agencies, and DNA records, and soon you may feel a bit agoraphobic and not wishing to go outside. Will some folks want to react with wearing a sort of privacy spacesuit when they have to travel through digital outer space? But violation of outer privacy is also a violation or invasion of inner privacy too. Privacy invasions affect one’s inner life.
Outer privacy invasions become inner privacy invasions and subsequent emotional reactions: generalized distress, fear, tension, depression. An aware citizen is frightened that their next words and behaviors will get them into trouble with the out-of-control “control-freaks” who created this system of oppression. People aware of constant monitoring are frightened of their own spontaneous selves. One of the programs, Xkeyscore, records every key stroke a person makes on a computer. That ought to intimidate anyone who blogs.
The Violation of Privacy Rights Is An Unjust Abuse of Power: Amping Up Power for the Elites, Disempowerment for All Others.
The unjust power relationship has been enunciated clearly— like the NYPD sweeping away Occupy protesters in the dark of night. Only inner sadness remains to recognize the loss of self-determination for protestors and writers-citizens alike. Only sadness remains to articulate the space which had been once occupied by free speech, equality and democratic representation. They have spoken: no more privacy for you! The violence of constant monitoring has been unleashed: no more freedom of expression with freedom from fear for us! No longer able to freely express dissent; no longer able to freely wield the sword of self-determination. We live under the gaze of constant monitoring. We are digitally tagged and earmarked like cows in a barn by agents and police. The inmates each have their own nameless number. Each person has been disempowered and demoted from an independent, self-defining, private, self-determining, vote-casting citizen, and forced through electronic disfigurement, into an exposed, monitored, ‘transparent’, depersonalized suspect/target/data file/digital-inmate/detainee.