Recently, technology has grown to be the driving force in productivity and efficiency. Although technology has provided many helpful benefits, it has also raised several privacy issues. Bruce Schneier is an expert in technology and information and a fellow at Harvard Law School. In his article “Data and Goliath”, he exposes the many ways in which every individual is being tracked and how their information is compromised. He says “your cell phone tracks where you like to spend your weekends and evenings.
It tracks how often you go to church, how much time you spend in a bar, and whether you speed when you drive” (Schneier, 453). He goes on to explain how trackers know who you are spending your time with and when, giving them the ability to predict where you will be 24/7. I agree with Schneier’s argument that cell phone users need to understand the severity of the repercussions if power and information is placed in the wrong hands because I have personally seen my data being recorded on my phone when I take pictures and shopping online. However, I disagree with the claim that the government and police being able to track data is a growing threat, because I believe it raises a sense of security in the world. Every individual is constantly under surveillance. Every purchase, email, text, and search is recorded and used to determine who you are and where you are. Schneier mentions this saying “your location information is valuable, and everyone wants to access it” (Schneier, 453).
For instance, I took a picture with my sister at Disney World and all of the information about it is still stored in my phone. When I pull up the picture I can see that it was taken on August 4, 2015 at 11:35 in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Anybody could find this information on any of my pictures and use it to track me. The author also brings up the idea that “companies use your phone to track you in stores to learn how you shop, track you on the road to determine how close you might be to a particular store, and deliver advertising to your phone to your phone based on where you are right now” (Schneier, 453). For example, I was looking to buy Baylor stickers for my laptop on a website called Redbubble and the next day I was scrolling through Facebook and ads came up for the website showing all of the stickers I had added to my cart the previous day. I agree with Schneier that mass surveillance is dangerous and believe that we need to be aware of the issue and take caution when providing personal information. Privacy is eroding fast and there is not much we can do but learn who is watching us and how. While most see the government and police tracking us as a major issue, which in some ways is true, there are also several benefits of it.
The police are able to see where we are at any given moment and store that data. For example, they know exactly where my home is because I am constantly being tracked and since I was regularly spending time at my home address, that information was automatically saved on my phone. On my Maps app I can type “Home” in the search bar and my exact address will come up with the estimated distance it is from the point I am at when I search it.
I can be in my dorm in Penland and the app will automatically tell me that I am 1,217 miles from my house in Ashburn, VA without even saying that I am in Penland. If there was an emergency, the police could use this tracking method to pinpoint my exact location to come and help me. With the government being able to track us and monitor data they are able to investigate any questionable behavior before it becomes a major threat.
Terrorism is one of America’s greatest fears and we have turned to the government for safety. This is the reason we allow the government to have our personal information, to protect us from danger. Schneier believes America’s fear is “the NSA’s justification for its mass-surveillance programs; if you let us have all of your data, we’ll relieve your fear” (Schneier, 454). I disagree with this statement because, while I know I am being tracked and this can be a great danger, I feel more safe knowing it is by the government and police mainly attempting to eliminate threats increase security.Schneier raised many excellent points about compromised privacy through technology that I agree with. I agree with his statement that surveillance “is being done without offering citizens recourse or any real ability to opt out, and without any meaningful checks and balances” (Schneier, 454). As it becomes increasingly clear that surveillance has become a greater risk and danger than anyone could ever have imagined, we need a guide to how we are being watched and what we can do about it.
However, I do think the government having the ability to track us can be beneficial. It reassures us that there is security in being tracked, providing us with a sense of safety. Although, if you do not mind being tracked by companies or the government, you should still have some understanding of the idea because your private life is worth protecting.