Hi! I'm Nikos Roussos, Open-Source Engineer and Advocator, Digital Rights Activist, and a Free mind :)
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A short story about mass surveillance

posted on 13/02/2014 11:50 #privacy #opensource #political #mozilla

So imagine you have a camera in your house. In your living room. A surveillance camera, like those you see in a metro station. In fact not just in your house (because hey, after all you are not that important), but in everyone's house. Image there is a surveillance camera on every living room. Creepy right? Would you just let it there staring and watching at you? Every movement you make in your own house? Well this is what is going on right now. No seriously. This is what is happening; but in the digital world. You see a physical camera is so easy to spot and get you frustrated. But on the digital world, which is as real as the physical one, the surveillance mechanisms are not so easy to spot.

So I'm having this camera in my living room watching every move I make. and the other day Maria, a friend of mine, comes for a cup of coffee in my house. She comes from another country, with different surveillance methods and she's surprised to see the camera. "You know you have a camera in your house? Over there in that corner of the ceiling.". There are plenty of ways I could react to this remark. The obvious one would be to look her finger and not where it's pointing, pretending there is nothing there. Or I could start yelling at her "Oh, come on. I know you people, all you do is scare people off. There is no camera! Don't try to terrorize us". Another approach would be that I actually get scared, censor myself and act as "normal" as I can. You know just sit there quietly and open my tv. Because that's what normal people do, right? I don't want to look suspicious and draw any attention on me from whoever is behind this camera. Until of course I really believe this and become that man who watches tv all day doing nothing out of the ordinary. Or... I could just thank Maria for stating the obvious and start thinking about what we can do about it.

A couple of hours later George, another friend, joins our company. He is more into technology than the average people. Actually a lot more. You know, these people that you can watch for hours talking only with acronyms and unknown words. So the discussion comes up again at this disturbing surveillance thing and he points out that there is a way to protect myself. A technical way to hide and obfuscate my movements inside my house, so they can't see what I'm doing (or at least make their job a lot harder). Well again there are various ways I could react to this. I could deny taking any measures to protect myself because that would make me look suspicious. I'm not that important. Let them focus on those who have something to hide. Or I could claim that this is a political problem and the only solution would be a political one. No technical measures can help us, so I refuse even to bother about them. Or... I could just thank George for having the patience to educate me about these things, and yes I would acknowledge the fact that this is a political problem and in the long term the solution should be political. But in the meantime I'm going to make their job a hell of a lot difficult. I'm going to help everyone look suspicious.


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