In 2004 the ACLU framed a biting critique of the uncontrolled collection of personal data on the web by imagining what ordering a pizza in 2015 might look like. It had a bit of a revival last year, and it makes sense because the vision is deeply disturbing and not that far off. Below is the description of the video on what I am imagining is the original page from 2004:
Government programs and private-sector data collection are destroying our privacy, pushing us towards a 24-hour surveillance society.
We are facing a flood of powerful new technologies that expand the potential for centralized monitoring, an executive branch aggressively seeking new powers to spy on citizens, a docile Congress and courts, as well as a cadre of mega-corporations that are willing to become extensions of the surveillance state. We confront the possibility of a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready for access by the authorities whenever they want.
This is situated on the brink of the explosion of Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc. More than 10 years later, the implications of the collection of personal data by corporations and governments is finally hitting us culturally. Phil Windley played this video during our discussion of the Personal API when we started exploring the implications of reclaiming this personal data from various services across our personal lives that are capitalizing off our information. This video nails just how vivid a picture of someone’s life a few data points creates, and how they can be commodified and used against us to create all sorts of societal controls. I think I am finally understanding what Audrey Watters and Kin Lane are talking about with this reclaim thing 🙂