Convenience / Privacy

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.”

Bruce Schneier – ‘The Value of Privacy’

Scan a QR code on an advert. Your mobile phone transmits GPS coordinates, and uniquely identifies you. Smartphone apps mine your data. Your wireless card has a unique MAC signifier. Your home network’s IP address – everything you browse, logged by your provider. Your National Security number tracks you throughout your life. Your personal data, encoded to your shiny new biometric passport.

The Oyster card in your wallet logs each journey you make. Facebook and Google scrape your ill-considered posts, ‘Likes’, and mail. CCTV is everywhere, ever awake. Fingerprints are logged for every arrested suspect, added to a permanent database. Medical records are available to business for a price. Private and public DNA databases archive genetic material. Tax and benefit records, shared with private companies. Anti-piracy organisations try to track your downloading torrents. An array of incriminating EXIF metadata is em¬bedded in the photos from your digital cameras. Patterns are picked from your shopping history, courtesy of Amazon, eBay, PayPal, Tesco, and more. ‘Smart’, web-enabled, energy meters monitor habits, and turn homes into wireless nodes, without consent.

Google Street View shows your home (and sometimes porn purchasing habits) in some detail. Drug companies patent our genes. Browsing logs, search queries, and profiles, are parsed automatically, to infer sexual orientation, political and religious views, race, substance use, intelligence, and personality. Tracking cookies compile records of browsing habits. Device fingerprinting reveals your true physical location, as well as the device that you are using. Library systems record every book you’ve ever borrowed. Governments set up honey pot websites. Online directories sell personal data from public records and databases, information from electoral rolls, phone directories, Companies House, and even who your neighbours are. Websites attempt to track the sites you visit subsequent to theirs. TV companies track the programs you watch, in real-time.

Your digital communications are compromised. The government describes the National Pupil Database as a “rich dataset” whose value could be “maximised” by making it more accessible to private companies. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! Everything has a price, and YOU are a product.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12