Privacy Uncensored

In The Net Delusion, Morozov discusses a somewhat counter-intuitive phenomenon. One would expect that people oppressed by an authoritarian government would seek change, and in the 21st century the Internet is the best place to make change happen. So why then in a country like Russia is there minimal online censorship? Morozov argues it is because, given the choice, the Russian people would rather watch something entertaining than political. Problems seem only to arise when a government actively censors the Internet. It draws on the saying, “You want what you can’t have.” If the Internet is censored, there is more of an outrage because people’s choices are being limited, regardless of whether or not they would even want to go to a censored site. But, since they have the options available to them, politics becomes much less appealing. A simple solution for Russian’s trying to engage other citizens in politics would be to create an entertaining political show, similar to The Daily Show or Colbert Report.

For governments that attempt to censor the Internet, the personal information and search histories of its citizens could prove very useful in continuing the government’s censoring efforts. According to Eli Praiser in The Filter Bubble, websites like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are actively collecting information from the other websites we visit. I hope it safe to assume that Facebook does not plan on selling this information to the Chinese government so it can control its citizens, but the point is that there are other companies out there data mining as well who might be more inclined to make money off selling personal Internet usage data.

The concerns with privacy interest me most and lead me to these questions: When will these data collecting companies or websites like Facebook and Amazon go too far? What bit of information that they haven’t uncovered will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? A line needs to be drawn somewhere, and soon, or our most sensitive personal information may show up in a Google search.

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