Security v. Privacy

Welcome to the Post-Snowden era. A time when it is common knowledge that a revolving door of strangers are peering into every aspect of our private lives—and it is becoming virtually impossible to stop them. No thought is safe, every conversation has a third ear. The very secrets kept from mom and dad—are unwittingly shared with those one would hope to never meet.

Past generations kept handwritten diaries—yes the lock could be picked by a younger brother, but now much more than that is indexable by parties thousands of miles away.

Where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, what you think, what you’ve said, what you’ve read, how many steps you’ve walked, what your current heart rate is, who your friends are, and where you’re going next. All to be combined with what you do not know about yourself. The medical records you’ve never seen. The blood test results you’ve never asked for. The records displayed boldly on LED screens, but face the wrong side of the desk.

Not to sound alarmist, but this is an alarm. Like the many burglary alarms in a neighborhood; few will bother to react. A few tech-savvy individuals are taking steps to encrypt their data, but the average person simply doesn’t care nor fully comprehend the gravity of this matter.

If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.

This allegory summarizes our projected course. We may have sensed that our privacy was being invaded. That we were being tracked, analyzed, studied by those we have no knowledge of and cannot refuse.

While partially understanding the breach we continued to entrust a teller window disguised as a vault with our secrets. We readily shared our secrets with strangers far stranger than those we were trying to keep them from.

Yet, our eyes do not open wide with astonishment at this revelation. We are the frogs, smiling, uploading and freely surrendering our privacy—offering knowledge, which is power over ourselves. We have surrendered without a fight.

We gave ourselves up unknowingly, then knowingly and now willfully in the face of horrors birthed overseas. We trust our freedom to a revolving door of strangers—whose motives change with a change in office.

Can’t trust one political party? What is authorized for one, is authorized for both. What is possible here, is possible overseas. What you can do, they can too.