As we as a people become more and more dependent on the media we simultaneously invite the digital world to access all aspects of our lives. The internet, specifically, has taken on the role of friend, informant, therapist, and now 24 hour surveyor.
There has been recent debates over Google.com’s new project, “The Street Project.” If the project is successful, the internet giant will be permitted to provide instant photographic access to any street in any city in any part of the world.
According to The New York Times, “The Federal Communications Commission censured Google for obstructing an inquiry into the Street View project, which had collected Internet communications from potentially millions of unknowing households as specially equipped cars drove slowly by”
For the past three years, Google has collected unauthorized data in order to accurately and efficiently provide current information on streets in various places around the world. The internet search engine was fined $25,000 (pennies to multi-million dollar conglomerate) for obstruction and the Google Engineer declined to comment on the investigation and the situation overall. The F.C.C has recently sanctioned Google for not cooperating.
“I appreciate that the F.C.C. sanctioned Google for not cooperating in the investigation, but the much bigger problem is the pervasive and covert surveillance of Internet users that Google undertook over a three-year period,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
What does this surveillance mean for us as internet users who dwell in the “millions of unknowing households” as the NY Times put it. Do we have a say in our privacy anymore? At one point, people had a choice as to whether or not they want to be active participants in the media. Americans had the choice of whether or not to get involved on social networking sites and to provide personal information on said sites. In the same way we had the choice of whether or not to use the internet at all.
At one point in history our lives didn’t revolve around the internet. We were able to function without instant access to any and everything. Now, with the advent of smart phones and their ability to access the internet at any moment, we have not only loss the ability to separate ourselves from accessing the web but we now are unable to separate ourselves from the webs access to us.
The internet has become so pervasive that it can watch us, watch our kids play in front our our homes, watch as we walk our dogs in the evening, and watch as we come in late after a night of socializing. We have loss our right of privacy. For the past three years we were being watched and little to no one knew about it. Is there a way we can get our privacy back? I mean, of course there is a chance the Google is forced to cease and desist on all work for the project, but they were still able to collect the data, nonetheless. They still have our information. Is it right for them to have our streets, homes, and lives under surveillance.