Zach-Liberal Columnistweb

Zachary Antoyan is a political science junior and Mustang Daily liberal columnist.

We are all interconnected. And I don’t mean this in the way of the six degrees of separation kind. Instead, I mean that if I wanted to find out about a man whose name is Smitty Werbinjagermanjensen, I could easily do so. I could see his pictures on Facebook. I could read his résumé on LinkedIn. I could look at his “selfies” on Instagram. I can know that he is friends with Tom on MySpace. There is a plethora of information about each and every one of us on the Internet, and most of the time, it is because we put it there ourselves.

The exponential increase in the role of technology and the interwebs on our lives has made more information about more people available to everyone and anyone, all because we clicked “I Agree” to the terms of service. Here is something to rustle your jimmies: the pace at which these technologies grow and change is much, much faster than the pace at which privacy laws are being created to deal with these shifts in technology. As a result, we have to ask questions like this: Do I actually own the pictures I post on Facebook, or the music I put on iTunes?

The implications of these questions are much broader than one may first assume, and our privacy is under attack by these questions from numerous different areas of tech. This isn’t just about the photos we post or the recipes we “like.” It is about how our actions on the Internet are monitored, how our phones consistently broadcast our exact locations, how drones will be used for surveillance and perhaps, most importantly, who knows and uses this information.

Privacy is inherently linked to ownership, and when we accept the terms of service, in many ways, we waive our right to that ownership. To be as frank as possible, privacy is at a pivotal point in history, and I think it is going to die.

Here is why: The more digitized and technologically involved our lives become, the easier it is to monitor our actions. Technology moves too fast for policy-makers to keep up, and how our information is protected depends on the laws they make.

Tech giants such as Facebook and Google routinely collect information about their users, and perhaps they don’t do anything with that data, or connect the data to specific users, but the fact is this information is collected in the first place. There is next to nothing that is completely anonymous on the Internet, and as we continue to place more aspects of our lives in these giant databases, the easier it will be for anyone to track our actions.

The information is already out there, and how we allow companies and the government to use this data will redefine what privacy means.

As the input of private information onto databases continues to become more pervasive in our lives, the more the controllers of these databases can know about each individual. Sooner or later, this has to become a major issue because the use of this data is in no way heavily regulated.

Maybe this would be to our benefit. Maybe having all of our money digitized will make transactions more efficient. Maybe using Google Glass, the new smart glasses from Google, will positively affect how we interact with the world around us. Someone though, whether it be the major corporations or the government, is going to want access to this information, and someone is going to get it.

We already give this information to the companies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a terms of service agreement. And the government already mines our data, listens in on our conversations and reads our texts and emails. Thank you, President Bush and the Patriot Act. Unless the most perfect Internet privacy laws are drafted and passed, individuals will never have complete control over their privacy.

For us, the major question will be: Who do we want to control and use this information, the government or the corporations? Is the Internet something that can be owned by these corporations, or is it something of a public service that the government can provide?

Your information is out there, and someone is going to use it. Of course, you could always go live as a hermit — there’s not much of a social network there, though.

This is Zachary Antoyan, promising that he is NOT a conspiracy theorist. Except for when it comes to the moon landing, 9/11, Area 51 and JFK’s assassination. Inside jobs, all of them.

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1 Comment

  1. “Thank you, President Bush and the Patriot Act.”

    You realize that President Obama has done absolutely nothing to protect Americans’ privacy either? Guess who extended the Patriot Act until 2017? Barack Obama. Guess who is arguing for domestic surveillance drone usage? Barack Obama. His administration argued in the Supreme Court, unsuccessfully, that law enforcement should be free to attach GPS tracking devices to vehicles without showing probable cause and getting warrants. He also signed the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (a.k.a warrantless wiretapping…which surprisingly, isn’t that “foreign”).

    Once you escape the idea that both parties and ALL politicians are the source of our problems, you’ll sound a little more educated.

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