It’s a troubling image, one that some fear might not be limited to works of fiction.
Consider this scene in “The Circle,” Dave Eggers’s new novel that imagines a dystopian future dominated by an omnipotent social networking company: Mae, the young protagonist, tries to unplug from her hypernetworked life to go on a covert, solitary kayaking trip. But when she returns to shore, she is greeted by police officers who have been alerted to her excursion by several hidden cameras. She quickly realizes that very little in her life isn’t recorded, tracked and analyzed.
It’s a troubling image, one that some fear might not be limited to works of fiction. In fact, some elements of Mae’s scenario have emerged recently in the news. There was the report that the National Security Agency can create sophisticated maps of some people’s personal information and social connections. There were the recent changes to Facebook’s privacy settings that will no longer allow users to hide their profiles from public searches. In addition, Google recently revealed that it was considering using anonymous identifiers to track browsing habits online, raising hackles among privacy advocates who have described it as “the new way they will identify you 24/7.”
And, at the same time, drones are becoming commonplace — used by the government in counterterrorism efforts and by hobbyists — prompting discussions about the long-term impact on privacy.
These developments, among others, have spurred the creation of a handful of applications and services intended to give people respite and refuge from surveillance, both online and off. They have a simple and common goal: to create ways for people to use the Internet and to communicate online without surveillance.
Nadim Kobeissi, a security adviser in Montreal who works on an encrypted-message service called Cryptocat, said the security and hacker circles of which he is a part have long suspected that the government is listening in on online conversations and exchanges but “have never been able to prove it.” He added: “It’s been a worst-case-scenario prediction that all turned out to be true, to a worrying extent.”
If nothing else, the N.S.A. leaks and disclosures have brought these issues front and center for many people, myself included, who are troubled by how much of our daily and online interaction is concentrated in and around a handful of companies that have funneled data to the N.S.A.
“It’s sad that this is the proverbial kick in the butt that needs to bring awareness to this concept,” said Harlo Holmes, who works for the Guardian Project, a group that is building several anti-surveillance and privacy applications.
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Eureka Installs Surveillance Tower at the Gazebo; Four More Permanent ‘Lot Cops’ to be Built Around Town
A tall pole was erected at the Gazebo yesterday afternoon – a pole taller than the Gazebo itself – and city government will soon be festooning it with a selection of surveillance equipment provided by ...
- ‘Domestic surveillance agency’: New report details the harrowing amount of data ICE has on Americans
"Our two-year investigation, including hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests and a comprehensive review of ICE’s contracting and procurement records, reveals that ICE now operates as a ...
- Cleveland Community Police Commission calls for more transparency, oversight of surveillance tech
The Cleveland Community Police Commission [CPC] is calling for more transparency and oversight of the police department’s growing use of surveillance technology. The CPC is a 13-member advisory body ...
- Discussing Vladimir Putin’s comments on the invasion of Ukraine: Braw on Bloomberg’s ‘Surveillance’
Senior Fellow Elisabeth Braw discusses Vladimir Putin’s comments on the invasion of Ukraine on Bloomberg’s ‘Surveillance.’ ...
- Watch Now: School surveillance video records violent EF-3 tornado in Kansas
Surveillance video from Kansas shows an EF-3 striking a school and nearby YMCA on April 9th in the town of Andover.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Welcome to the era of the hyper-surveilled office
Nearly half of respondents pretended to be online and almost a third employed anti-surveillance software, specifically designed to dodge online monitoring. Add concerns about privacy—especially as the ...
- Anti-Surveillance Group Sues LAPD And City For Refusing To Disclose Locations Of Security Cameras At Echo Park Lake
Surveillance cameras were installed after the city evicted the park’s unhoused community and fenced off the area. Police say revealing their locations would compromise law enforcement.
- Wikimedia has officially stopped cryptocurrency donations. Here's how a 28-year-old Wikipedia editor started the debate from the inside.
But her comments spurred debate and echoed the growing number of people in tech who think crypto hasn't kept its idealist promises of freedom and anti-surveillance. The 28-year-old said she was happy ...
- After years of gang list controversy, the NYPD has a new secret database. It's focused on guns.
For nearly a decade, the New York Police Department's gang database spurred controversy. Police said it was a vital tool to curb gang violence, but advocates contended that it used flimsy evidence to ...
- 8 Ways To Protect Yourself Online While Planning An Abortion
Today, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. Given how invasive modern technology has become, everyone can benefit from anti-surveillance best practices — and something is better than nothing.