Who’s Watching You?

Being watched, changes your behavior.

Sometimes it makes things better, as in an old phone company study where workers showed better productivity when they were being studied (were they more productive in brighter or dimmer light?), and slumped back to normal after the study ended.  One conclusion was, workers performed better and produced more when they felt people cared enough to talk to them about their work.  “I matter! Somebody thinks I’m worth watching!”   Then everything settles back to “normal” after the research study people leave.

A BBC article suggests that knowing an area is being watched, will reduce bicycle thefts.

What’s not to like?  Plenty.

Surveillance increases stress in the workplace and threatens free speech in deep and persistent ways, and is increasingly present in contemporary society.

From the last linked (Salon) article:

Supreme Court Justice Powell wrote,

“History abundantly documents the tendency of government—however benevolent and benign its motive—to view with suspicion those who most fervently dispute its policies. Fourth Amendment protections become more necessary when the targets of official surveillance may be those suspected of unorthodoxy in their political beliefs. The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’”

Government surveillance, of political right or political left groups, makes people think twice before speaking contrary to the political establishment. State surveillance of Black Lives Matter allegedly chilled members’ desire to engage in political discourse “about the issues of our time.” Similarly, surveillance of Trump officials was used to impeach the credibility of Lt. Gen. Flynn, attack Attorney General Sessions, and generally to delegitimize President Trump. Progressive groups, right leaning groups, and individuals in the government who threaten its power are equally subject to government surveillance and potential that surveillance will be used to silence their dissent.

A particularly disturbing trend is its chilling effect on free speech and free association.

Perhaps the only conclusion is that we want privacy for ourselves, and transparency in the actions of our elected officials and the people they appoint who have power over our privacy, our liberty, and our lives.

To see who is tracking your browser, a FireFox plug-in called LightBeam that graphically shows which parties are connected to and which ones have placed cookies on your browser.  This is one visit to the Chicago Tribune:  after a few minutes 121 third parties are tracking my session (the ones with purple lines have left cookies).


Note:  Blocking ads with Privacy Badger and Ghostery can reduce your user experience, since some actions require ads to be active, to allow the content (video or article) to be shown.

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