There is an interesting dichotomy among folks who claim to be all about liberty. They’re usually also the same folks who claim that there’s no point in using digital security best practices, or no use in caring about their privacy. Even saying the phrase “gun control” in these folks’ presence and they’ll give you their best impression of righteous indignation, but ask them what they think about their privacy and they’ll shrug. “There’s no point, the feds know everything anyway.” Or they’ll tell you that they have nothing to hide. Or that it’s too difficult to learn the tools and practices. Or that they already have such a huge public face anyway that there’s no point in even bothering. Or they’ll even double down and pretend that it’s somehow braver to just be out in the open, insinuating by default that people who do choose to protect their privacy are somehow cowardly.
Quite frankly, that’s a load of crap.
I’m going to flip this a second, and put the whole thing into different terms that perhaps are easier to understand.
There’s no point in carrying a gun or even owning one. Criminals aren’t going to be deterred by it, all you’re doing is potentially giving them another weapon to use when they take yours. Besides, it’s expensive to get one, it’s hard to learn, and I just don’t have the time to practice with it. I’m also too old/set in my ways to learn another skill. I’m not going to carry a gun because that’s like saying I’m afraid. I’m not afraid, and only cowards need to carry a gun. If it’s my time, then it’s my time.
I would guess that most people who read this site would think the above paragraph is some of the stupidest drivel imaginable. But guess what? That’s what it sounds like when people give their litany of excuses why they can’t/won’t learn how to protect their privacy. That’s what it looks like when I hear people give me all the reasons why privacy is no big deal to them. What drives me insane is that these are the same people who claim they are all about freedom and liberty. Some of them even laugh at the knowledge that they’re living in a surveillance state. Because yes, haha, it’s so hilarious. And for those of you who claim that “all you can do is laugh at it,” I’ll just go ahead and tell you that you are wrong. There is much you can do. You’re just too lazy to do it.
You live in a surveillance state. Say that a few times until it sinks in. If you absolutely cannot wrap your mind around that, do some research. If you still can’t fathom it, let me know and I’ll catch you up. How is that even possible? How is it that we as Americans do not realize the extent of the control we are truly under?
One answer is self-surveillance. We as a society participate in our own surveillance. We submit data to the fusion centers, to the NSA programs, to the filters and machines that map out who we are and decide if we are a threat. WE do that.
The government figured out the Achilles’ heel of the human race: Humans love to talk about themselves. They love to tell you what they like, don’t like, where they’re going and what they’re doing. Who they’re with, who they love, who they’re fighting with…and that’s not even getting into the opinions on politics, religion, or anything else. How do you put a society under surveillance and control? You don’t even have to force them into it. They’ll walk right into it themselves, if you let them. Because they want to tell you all about how they’re doing. In fact, all you really have to do is create a mechanism for them to tell you all about it, and they will. In great detail.
Sure, the government has license plate readers and red light cameras and metadata and a hundred other things that provide a fairly cognizant view into your life. But who’s filling in the gaps? Who’s giving them the 3D view? You are, happily and without so much as a glitch. You can’t claim to care about privacy when your Facebook page is filled with a veritable date book of your activities in nearly real time. You can’t claim that you worry about facial recognition when you post a selfie every other day. You cannot complain about surveillance when you are actively submitting information about yourself and your activities to the surveillance engine.
What about liberty? Do you truly care about liberty if you absolutely refuse to even learn how to stop engaging in your own control environment? I’m not even saying drop all your social media (although I would hope you look into MeWe and Gab, both of which are FAR more privacy conscious than F-book and Twitter). But refusing to encrypt, posting all your travels on Facebook, publicizing all your activities, not using Signal or other more secure means of communications, plastering details of your life everywhere and then claiming it doesn’t matter anyway…that’s not liberty. That’s just lazy.
How can I say that? Because I used to be that person, and there are days I still catch myself. I know why I didn’t learn those skills for a long time, and it’s for the same reason I didn’t learn other skills I needed and didn’t have. I didn’t make time. I say I don’t have time for more things, but I do. We really all do. If you’ve got time to play games on your phone or watch TV, you’ve got time. If you’ve got time to post photos of yourself at yet another activity, yet another ‘fun’ thing, yet another “look at me! I’m living my life!” thing, then you’ve got time to learn skills you don’t have. I’ve already posted on how you can take in a lot more information throughout your day; there’s no reason why some of that can’t be on privacy and security. The more you learn, the more you will see how completely asinine it is to say it doesn’t matter. Trust me…I used to think it didn’t matter too, and I was dead wrong.
Bottom line: Stop making it easy for them. Stop plastering your entire life all over social media. Stop claiming you don’t have time, or that it doesn’t matter. It does. The more people who are actively working against the surveillance engine, the safer we all are–and there are a LOT of ways to work against it, use it to your advantage, and generally monkeywrench it, or at least compartmentalize your life a bit. You know how fiercely you care about gun rights? That’s how you should feel about privacy, because that also affects you in very fundamental ways. In short, quit claiming you’re anti-government surveillance and pro-liberty if you’re going to just hand them the info they want on a silver platter.