Would you allow a government official into your bedroom on your honeymoon? Or let your mother-in-law hear and record every conversation that takes place in your home or car – especially disagreements with your husband or wife? Would you let a stranger sit in on your children’s playdates so that he could better understand how to entice them with candy or a doll?
Guess what? If you bring your phone with you everywhere, or engage with a whole-house robo helper such as Alexa or Echo or Siri or Google, you’re opening up every aspect of your life to government officials, snooping (possibly criminal) hackers, and advertisers targeting you, your spouse and your children…
When you ask Siri or Echo or Alexa or Google (and others of their ilk) something, it’s great to get an immediate answer… but the corollary is that Siri and Echo and Alexa and Google are listening to every conversation you’re having with your spouse, every fight you’re having with your kids, and every bit of heavy breathing that might be taking place in the dark.
That response inherently grants legitimacy to the search in the first place. The implication is that if you have nothing to “hide,” then the tech companies, the advertisers, the government, etc. should indeed have full access to every aspect of your life…
Technology can lead to convenience, but it can also lead to abuses of power. In its extreme, that is called totalitarianism.
In the end, we must take precautions if we’re to have anything close to liberty. Some of you have, no doubt, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent book from 2007, Liberal Fascism, the hardcover of which features a smiley face graphic with a Hitler mustache. In the introduction, Mr. Goldberg quotes a segment from a Bill Maher show in which George Carlin says, in essence, (and I’m paraphrasing) that “when fascism comes to America it will be wearing a smiley face.”
I’d go a step further — it will be cloaked in an emoji… seemingly innocuous, friendly, and ubiquitous.
We must stop giving away our privacy. We must start thinking about personal “data” as the commodity that it already is, and even as a weapon that can be used against us.
If we don’t stop and reconsider what we’re giving away, not only will there be nothing to hide, but nowhere to hide.