In the 21st Century, technology is developing at a rapid pace and private information is easily available. Despite this, we are still in complete control of our lives.
In regard to technology, tremendous advancements have been realized as evidenced by the creation of new software, applications, and high tech equipment. These technological advancements are admired by many, but, are they really good for us? Are these advancements a necessary part of our lives or are they wittingly taking control over our lives and privacy? Corporations such as Apple Inc that deal with personal computers, online services, computer software, and consumer electronics have been adding new technological features, services, and products by day. For example, the option of using fingerprint pass codes is available in some cell phone models made by Apple and Samsung. The companies claim that these features are intended to enhance the security of users. Cameras have been installed all around major cities such as London with the claim of enhancing security. According to the US Department of Justice (2014), “technology helps to improve public safety in several ways”. Stakeholders in the technology sector all around the world are in constant competition to outdo each other. Around 25 years ago, the first cell phone was invented. Criminals could get away with crimes more easily some years ago compared to current times. When we think of the children of the 21st century, we think of iPads, iPhones, computers, and quick access to information’s that might not be relevant to them. The rapid evolution of technology is a good thing, but it is also affecting our privacy and life style as shall be discussed in this essay.
The improvements in technology have been great for the evolution of medical science, saving lives, and finding new treatments for diseases that we once thought were incurable. “The technology behind CCTV is also developing rapidly” (The University of Chicago Urban Network, 2011). The level of criminal activities in cities such as London that have installed hundreds of CCTV cameras all around the city has decreased. The cameras have also helped increase the speed of response to criminal activities by police. Therefore, public safety has been improved as a result of technology. These cameras enable police officers to always watch what is happening around the city. On the other hand, these cameras do not only film criminal actions, but also the day to day life’s of normal citizens. Some citizens have lost all their privacy as they are always watched upon. Although it has decreased the rates of criminality, it has also taken away some of our freedom.
As mentioned earlier, companies such as Apple have installed a finger print pass code to some of their devices. According to the company, this feature was created in order to protect private information stored on the devices. However, having such devices record our fingerprints means that the company can easily access our finger prints. Apple has claimed multiple times that they do not have access to these finger print details and have not stored them in any data base since they are only stored in the users devices. The company has also claimed that it has never given any information to the government even though it is clearly known that Apple has working relations with the American National Security Agency (Morozov, 2013). How can we be completely sure that none of the confidential information has not been stored or shared by the company? Also, how can we know for sure if none of the finger prints have been exposed and if that under the government pressure, they will be given out? “This is another instance that clearly proves hoe technology has impacted and compromised on our privacy and freedom. We live in an age increasingly shaped by our attitudes to, and our definition of, privacy. It is arguable whether the state of privacy itself has ever been more comprehensively and routinely challenged, and in many ways our changing relationship with technology is at the heart of this” (Kiss, 2014).
Technology has been advancing at a fast pace, making life for us simpler by allowing us to access information at any given place or time. We are now able to have Skype meetings and are aware of all the information and news going on around us. Other companies such as Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the pioneers of the rapid evolvement of social media platforms and other technological portable devices and software. The new trend by Apple is to put all our private information on software known as icloud. This software is designed to store all types of information such as photos, documents, videos, files, and basically anything you may have on your device on an online database. This then enables you to access them from any other device. It makes life so much easier for all of the community everyone that is using such devices and services but is it really a good thing for our privacy since all our information is stored by someone else? It has been proved by the exposure of a few celebrities that this program can be hacked and all our information exposed for the world to see. Facebook is known to be used by companies that are looking to recruit by using the information on the people’s profiles in order to make their choices. It also has been proved that Facebook has given information to the C.I.A. on several instances under the guise of promoting public safety. Is this not a violation of people’s privacy? “The commercial interests of technology companies and the policy interests of government agencies have converged: both are interested in the collection and rapid analysis of user data. Google and Facebook are compelled to collect ever more data to boost the effectiveness of the ads they sell. Government agencies need the same data—they can collect it either on their own or in coöperation with technology companies—to pursue their own programs” (Nelson, 2013).
Nowadays, because of technology, we are aware of everything that surrounds us. We can access the media and other information resources from anywhere around the world so that we are aware of what is happening and what should be done in order to prevent any life threatening situations. Media issues are very controversial. It is widely thought that all the news that we are given is in some way controlled. In other words we are told only what has been decided to be appropriate. This makes the media less reliable and propaganda is easily put in place. People nowadays are always connected, whether it is on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or through official news channels. As a result of this, we tend to believe that we are more knowledgeable and informed, but is that really the case? This control over media exists and countries such as China control the media in order to control the population. The government has access to all the search histories of people’s computers. By doing this, it is able to prevent revolutions and keep their country under control by knowing what information its citizens are searching for on the internet. This is a perfect example of people having lost control of their lives and their privacy due to the advancement of technology, we do not have access to only true information and are blinded and believe that all that is told to us is what we should believe. “Reviewing the privacy controversies of the last few years reveals how far our sense of acceptable "inversion of privacy" has shifted. Take Facebook, its billionaire founder Mark Zuckerberg wallowing in the glory of his first decade in charge of one of privacy's biggest agents of change. Users first revolted when the site introduced the newsfeed-yet now it feels rather benign in terms of its challenge to our sense of privacy, as well as being the main reason for visiting the site” (Kiss, 2014).
In conclusion, it is correct to state that the advancement of technology has been making a lot of things easier than they were in the past. Access to information and its protection has become easier and security seems more enhanced because of technologies such as video camera surveillance. Most people would say that technology has helped them be in more control of their lives. I personally disagree with such sentiments. I am a heavy user of technology and cannot let a day pass by without accessing a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter, or simply using my smartphone. Technology has made life easier, but has also made us more vulnerable to exposure. Facebook has given employers and governments the opportunity to search and access pertinent information about us. Our finger prints have probably been stored and the day someone wants to find you or access your private life, it may be so easy for them to do so. We are all watched and all our moves may be controlled in some ways. Many people buy products that they are cunningly compelled to buy without even knowing. I believe that we are no longer in total control of our lives and privacy, but only partially because of technology.
Biagi, S. (1988). Media/impact: An introduction to mass media. Belmont, CA: WadsworthPub.
Kiss, J. (2014). Worried about your privacy? Wait until the drones start stalking you. The Guardian, September 9 2014. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/09/privacy-concerns-google-streetview-facebook-drones
Morozov, E. (2013). The real privacy problem. Retrieved from http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/520426/the-real-privacy-problem/
Nelson, E. (2013). Utah Local News – Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive – The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/56928903-82/technology-control-generation-kids.html.csp
The University of Chicago Urban Network. (2011). Does videocamera surveillance make cities safer? Retrieved from http://www.urbanportal.org/issues/entry/does_video_camera_surveillance_make_cities_safer/
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