Privacy – Why The Fuss?

I don’t understand what’s this fuss about privacy and government surveillance.

After all, we are willingly compromising our privacy when we use services like Google now, Siri and Social networking. The only difference between tech companies and the government is that the companies are invading your privacy to show you targeted ads and the government to save your ass!

And neither of them has a choice – why should companies spend billions in providing free services if they aren’t getting anything in return?
The government has no choice because the enemy is hiding among us. It’s running with us in the marathons, dining with us at the hotels, praying and shopping with us.  

Privacy is overrated.
If you can save me from the pain of watching cola ads and instead show me ads for something I want to buy - I am happy. I don’t see how to get this information other than tracking our online behavior.

If you can save even one life by preventing the next terror attack eavesdropping on a billion conversations - I am in. Most of us are publicly “Dear Diary- ing” our lives online anyways - you are kidding yourself if you hold an opposing point of view. Ask yourself why do I constantly check my social networks, browse through photos of people I don't even know well, enjoy celebrity gossip? What about their privacy?  And if you drool over the personal details of someone else’s life what gives you the right to sanctify your own?

The government overhearing our personal conversations is not the problem. The problem is what they do with that information. If they use it only to identify security threats, it’s ok -  but if they use it to typecast me as “an outspoken critic of current establishment – tag as a threat” - I should be worried.

Democracy dictates that the government should prove that it’s doing only the former. If it can’t or it won’t it should be replaced by the one that does.

I once read an article “A Brave New Dystopia” . In it the author compares two different visions of the future – one Orwellian, dominated by repressive surveillance and control, the other as envisioned by Huxley  - seduced by entertainment, technology and spectacle.  The world we think we are living in ended in the early 21st century – when terrorists entered our living room and we started living online – that’s when we entered the world of Brave New Dystopia.

Reality shows and cheap entertainment (read Dabangg, Jersey Shore, fascination with the next iPhone) characterize Huxley’s world. The recent PRISM & similar government surveillance programs characterize Orwellian vision.

I hope the future is neither - but a wiser society. A society that isn’t addicted to entertainment and technology, that doesn’t judge it’s people by their beliefs but recognizes them for their skills, a society that defines & encourages a better moral code, promotes knowledge and long-term happiness rather than superficial “fixes” in any form whether spiritual, religious or materialistic.

I see today’s world struggling to find this balance – people finding solace in theocracies & ideologies created in dark ages, abundance of information but lack of wisdom, the emergence of “professional amateurs” fullfilling our need for “the quick fix”  - with our collective knowledge of the last 400 years, I believe we can do much better.

Wish that we do. 


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