Privacy is a key tenant of American society, but many either have forgotten what the idea actually means, or have willingly put it aside for the notion of the “greater good.” Many people will proclaim that they value their privacy above all else, yet vote bills into law that allow phone tapping, “eyes in the sky,” and other surveillance practices. While most people would call the police if they saw a stranger monitoring them through their window, those same individuals often ignore the fact that a similar thing is happening, only there’s no face to be seen…
…only ears to hear and eyes to examine your documents, forms and whatever websites you visit.
Privacy can be seen as a barometer for a healthy society, because it involves several key issues such as government involvement and trust. If the government and those people that make decisions and put things into motion could trust the average citizen to live God’s commandments and not require intrusive surveillance, than privacy would increase. When there is no trust, the Nanny State reigns supreme. Where the decision makers feel that citizens must be monitored “for their own good,” privacy decreases.
One area that privacy – or the lack thereof – is most clearly seen is in the political sector. This goes for both politicians in Washington and your neighborhood. There are many instances in history, both in the U.S. and abroad, where surveillance was used to harm the political system. Examples include the Red Scares, Gestapo techniques and Watergate. Following these abuses, privacy was often established as a political right. However, as time goes on, it’s forgotten once more and is once again rarely considered. Plus, there is an additional concern in these modern times that the past famous cases did not involve – modern technology. The ease with which privacy can be taken out from under people without them even knowing makes it even more important that we develop safeguards and prepare for the next surveillance abuse. Remember the old adage: history repeats itself.
Political surveillance abuse does not stop at the bottom of Capitol Hill. It sneaks right into your home. Your Internet activity can be monitored, and someone can know what political websites you visit and how frequently you visit each of them. If you are a member of a political group, it can be discovered or leaked to those who want to know. This becomes a problem and goes so far as to corrode democracy itself in the event that you may be excluded and discriminated against based on information gathered illicitly about your political leanings. Political surveillance can also have a huge effect on those interested in running for office, whether they’re currently forty-years-old or fourteen. If the world can know all of your political history since the time you were young, all of your skeletons will be out of the closet before you even get the chance to run for office.
Most importantly, the reason that surveillance and lack of privacy is such an issue is because most often you don’t even know that you’re being watched, that your movements are being monitored. Unless you can prove some sort of unlawful surveillance, you have no standing in a court of law. If you go before a judge with only the fear that you’re being monitored, he or she will laugh you out of the courtroom.
So what can you do? Other than leaving the modern world behind and creating a sustainable life for yourself in a rural environment, just be aware of the facts, the concerns, and how you can be affected by surveillance, particularly of the political variety. Before you get behind the next bill that uses surveillance to achieve its goals, sit back and think about how that could be abused – because the sad truth is, there’s a good chance it will be. By making an informed decision and tuning your moral compass to God for what you feel is justified and what basic human rights should be protected, you will be that much more prepared for the outcome, and preparedness is the key to surviving the modern world.