Big Brother Is Always Watching


 

rand paul tooo

I think one of the major concerns with the idea of a “socially responsible” business model is that it will inevitably lead to a reduction in profits. Yet, as we have read and as many developing companies have shown, this is merely an illusion. Socially responsible organizations—those that address, ameliorate, and in some cases eliminate a societal issue—are growing in number and popularity. Because there is this inherent sense that socially conscious, stakeholder-oriented business approaches are not profit maximizing, I do not believe for-profit businesses are always the best method to solving social issues. Many times NGOs, charitable foundations, and other such organizations might best solve these problems, as they are not constricted by shareholder demands. An investor will certainly contribute to a socially responsible business if it is a lucrative opportunity, but not merely because it’s just “the good thing to do.”

Regardless, an important social issue I’m passionate about is the protection of civil liberties, particularly with regards to data and privacy. I have always been cognizant of what I put on the Internet, knowing that it will truly never be deleted; I learned many alarming and unsettling things regarding surveillance and data collection by taking the technological organization. The UK has CCTV cameras watching people nearly everywhere. I was there for two months and I can tell you it’s a bit weird. I ended up writing a research paper on CCTV and British citizen surveillance for my class while there and the resounding majority of my research suggested that surveillance methods did little to deter crimes (there help was more in crime detection). It still seems shocking to me that this exists in a country where the police don’t carry guns and cant force you to show them your ID when you get pulled over. This issue is also currently at the forefront of the mainstream media with the case between Apple and the FBI. I’m entirely with Apple on this one—why should they not only waste their time and money, but risk jeopardizing the security of their entire operating system just to get into the phone of one dead guy? Furthermore, the precedent should not be established that the courts can force tech companies to do these sorts of things. The causes of this issue include an uninformed public and intention psychological manipulation by the government. Think of the PATRIOT ACT for example. People have no idea how this erodes their civil liberties and instead are forced to believe that if they denounce the act, they are not a true “patriot.” The Apple situation is similar. “If you are supporting Apple, then surely you must not want stop ISIS or protect national security.” The public must become better educated about these sorts of things.

Now, I believe that privacy protection can be the foundation of a successful and profitable business model. Apps using encryption, such as WIckr, have already faired well in the market. But more still needs to be done. I think its safe to say that most people value their privacy, so a new company must educate the consumer about metadata collection, cookies, etc. A new Internet browser could be created that prohibits the use of cookies and other devices which track user history. Companies and the government will proclaim such programs as enhancing marketing capabilities and security, but its gotten out of hand. Today I read an article in the newspaper that AT&T is partnering with billboard companies to track information about the people driving by them. Is this really necessary? Cellular and other communication companies have the opportunity to utilize privacy protection as a competitive advantage. But will people really switch from Google to another search engine just because it doesn’t track your search history? If these companies and the government were more transparent about how data was being collected, stored, and used I’m confident the answer would increasingly become “yes.” I am no government conspiracist, but rather a concerned citizen who values his privacy. I believe there is a legitimate business opportunity in the realm of privacy protection, especially with advancing encryption technologies. If we don’t act now, we may find ourselves hopelessly embedded into a surveillance society.

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3 thoughts on “Big Brother Is Always Watching

  1. I, too, learned surveillance was in an out of control state in the same course, even more so than I had originally thought, which makes it all the more unsettling. One point you brought up about the Apple dilemma makes sense, but where I don’t see the logic is Apple is just one company. Of course them denying the FBI the tool they’d like to have to decrpyt the phone is the right thing to do in that situation. Yet, I can’t help but think if someone really wants that information, they will find it. Whether it is from hiring new coders, hackers, encryption artists or whatever they are called, or simply one smart mind with a lot of curiosity, that phone could be unlocked. At that point they would have the information regardless of what Apple wants. I could be completely wrong, and my knowledge in encryption is nnot very deep, so maybe this is very unlikely in today’s world. Still, just a little food for thought.

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    1. Exactly. The government doesnt need Apple to help them get into the phone. They know its possible, yet theyd rather force Apple to do it to avoid the costs and time and risks of permanently deleting everything on the phone. Theres ways to trick to the phone into believing that a password has only been tried once; thus, all 10,000 possible 4 digit combinations could be tried using an algorithm in a matter of seconds. They could also take out the chip to the phone and use a scanning electron to examine it (read this in the newspaper, dont really know how this would work) To me, i just dont understand what they think theyre gonna find on that phone that is so valuable.

      what do others think? FBI or Apple? or is the choice not so clear….

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  2. I do agree with you Brady and have yet to take the technological organization. I believe that privacy is something that should be kept private. I have almost given up hope in today’s world because as Ben said, if somebody really wants my information, there is nothing I can do to stop them. Companies today go into such great depths to try and gain a competitive edge over the competition and can’t say that it makes me feel safer. Somebody somewhere probably knows that I am writing this and that is very unsettling. If you wont be, I will be the conspiracy theorist of this class and ill be the first one to say that there is a giant one going on with data collection.

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