All posts tagged #Privacy

Reading Doctorow’s Little Brother has definitely brought my attention to digital privacy. One of the reasons why Little Brother is such a thought-provoking dystopia is that the novel uses contemporary technology in modern-day San Francisco which gives its readers the sense that they may actually be living in a similar dystopia not too far in the future whereas it’s difficult to put myself in the shoes of Aria in Under the Never Sky because I don’t live in a post-apocalyptic world in an augmented reality controlled by the government. 

Digital privacy is becoming an increasingly controversial topic, especially now that President Donald Trump has signed a law that loosens the restrictions on what internet service providers could do with the data they collect. Due to the lack of competition among internet service providers and the fact that internet is practically a necessity now, there isn’t really a convenient way to avoid having data collected on you, and most people wouldn’t go out of their way to prevent data from being collected on them.

I will admit I do not fully understand what the consequences of this law will be, but after reading Little Brother, I think it’s safer to side with the individual consumers than the big data companies. There is something uncomfortably invasive about the idea of having data being collected on you and then sold, even if it’s just to advertisers. Little Brother has also drawn my attention to how difficult it can be to protect your digital information from being collected if restrictions aren’t put in place. Most people understandably don’t understand what happens behind their computer screens and are easy prey for businesses that want to sell their information. In Little Brother, if people wanted to access the internet while protecting their privacy, someone who understood how the technology worked like Marcus had to figure out a countermeasure and then teach it to everyone first. A similar series of steps must occur already in the real world for internet users to protect themselves. First they have to learn about the potential threat in the first place. Then the majority of them will have to hope someone else has created a tutorial for a countermeasure. Realistically, most people won’t go through all that trouble, so I think it’s the responsibility of the lawmakers to protect citizens from being taken advantage of.

Image: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-violation-of-online-privacy

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tom Doherty Associates, 2008.

Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky. HarperCollins, 2012.

I have always paid careful attention to current events. I like to know what’s happening around me, so I keep myself updated with articles from various newspapers and magazines from around the world. However, throughout the length of this course I have noticed a shift in the lens with which I read these articles. I’ve become more interested in reading news articles discussing policy; specifically, privacy and technology.

I believe that this shift is mainly due to Cory Doctrow’s novel Little Brother. While reading, I kept noticing simply how plausible of a future it seemed to be. Gait-trackers in schools, GPS trackers individual to a person, internet surveillance, wire-tapping, and so many more new (yet terrifying) technologies seem to pervade the novel. While some of these are not yet common around the states, I do worry that they may one day be considered the ‘norm.’

The other day, I was scrolling through Apple’s News feed on my phone when I came across an article detailing how the senate voted to revoke FCC privacy regulations. These rules were enacted as they “protect important personal interests—freedom from identity theft, financial loss, or other economic harms, as well as concerns that intimate, personal details could become the grist for the mills of public embarrassment or harassment or the basis for opaque, but harmful judgments, including discrimination” (Federal Communications Commission 2). Furthermore, a brief synopsis of the rules is that they are what require companies to tell you and get your approval for their privacy policies (for example, what information of yours that they may release), they require companies to protect your information and to notify you of security breaches.

Can you imagine your personal information being distributed without your knowledge? I’m sure the citizens in Little Brother couldn’t either; that’s why they were so surprised about being stopped by police when the rebellion mixed up all the data. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer my information to be protected. Yes, the smackdown still has to be approved by the House and the President, but it’s a slippery slope. If our government begins to believe that it is ok to distribute and collect information about our personal lives without reasonable cause, then where’s the end?


Link to the FCC’s broadband privacy framework: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-148A1.pdf