Last year the country, and the world, watched as President Obama took to the podium to announce the death of public enemy #1 “Geronimo” a.k.a Osama Bin Laden. Crowds gathered all over the country to celebrate the news, the President’s approval ratings went up, and SEAL Team Six became a household name overnight.
We forgot about the long lines at airport security, having to put liquids into tiny bottles before boarding a plane, and all those other things to “keep us safe”. But the reality is all those things still exist, and if anything, they’ve gotten worse. The government has expanded its ability to tap our calls, monitor our online behavior, and now when we go to the airport they can see through our clothes. It seems that even though Bin Laden is gone, information surveillance is definitely here to stay.
In my honest, and humbled opinion, the PBS Frontline documentary “Spying on the Home Front” doesn’t really say anything that we New Yorkers (or anyone in a major city for that matter) don’t already know. We live in a densely populated, well-known area, that unfortunately makes us a prime target for terrorist activities. As a result the government keeps a close eye on things, and at the end of the day life goes on. But at what cost?
Over the past several years the federal government, and municipalities around the nation have expanded their ability to eavesdrop into our everyday lives through the development of advanced A.I. and surveillance technologies (we’re all familiar with the Predator Drone right?). It’s come to the point that you or I cant walk a block in Lower Manhattan without ending up on a surveillance camera. The NYPD has A.I. so advanced it can detect if a package has been left alone for a certain amount of time, and in response send an officer to inspect it. Welcome to the future of surveillance everyone.
So what does this mean for privacy? Well for starters theoretically it means we’ll have less of it. Without making it sound as if I’m wearing a tin-foil hat the government could theoretically have the ability to track our every move, where we go, who we see, and what we do. Especially if they continue to use the, “it’s a matter of national security” line, then we as Americans can say goodbye to the diminishing amount of privacy we have.
So what can we do about this? Truthfully I don’t know. I’m pretty sure however that the guy or girl sitting behind the computer at the NSA probably doesn’t care about the text message I sent my friend last Friday inviting them out for drinks. Lets be honest, this level of surveillance is going to be around for awhile to come, and the only reason we know about this is because the fed acknowledges it. Remember that before the Bin Laden raid nobody really knew SEAL Team Six existed. We should be asking serious questions about how the government gathers our information and what they plan to do with it. I’m no expert on civil liberties or national security policy, but I do know that as Americans we have a right to privacy, and that we should be demanding more transparency from our federal government.