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I Spy With Millions of Eyes

Ashlynn Booth

Allen Community College


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I Spy With Millions of Eyes

As an avid user of technology throughout my entire life, I am used to the fact that many

of the things that I do online, or just in general, are either being surveilled or that the information

is being permanently stored away. Since I—and the majority of my peers—have never been

exposed to a life with true privacy, then the privacy issue is not as much of a big deal to us as

what it is to the older generation. In Jennifer Golbeck’s essay, “All Eyes on You,” she discusses

the privacy issue, how it works, and how it affects people. Privacy intrusions, like surveillance,

are great tools to be used by police or just to keep people in line, but it crosses a line whenever it

is being used within peoples’ homes. However, there is no doubt that it has become a serious

issue that can have negative results on people.

The privacy issue is not just an American issue, but it is beginning to be a problem in

many developed countries around the world. In the essay, Golbeck (2017) brings up a comment

made by a cofounder of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy: “You have zero privacy anyway.

Get over it,” which just shows that many people have recognized their lack of privacy, but are

pushed to ignore it rather than to address it (p. 316). Privacy rights have become an even more

controversial topic than in years past as a direct result of technology becoming a more crucial

part of everyday living; almost every single American uses some kind of technology at least once

a day. “We’re active participants in creating our own surveillance record,” Golbeck (2017)

comments, mainly because of the openness that today’s society has to sharing personal

information (p. 317). She defines privacy as an “an intangible asset,” because “if we never think

about it, we may not realize it’s gone” (Golbeck, 2017, p. 317).

Although many may think of surveillance as security cameras, there is much more to it.

Golbeck (2017) explains that surveillance is so much more than the stereotypical cameras and
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microphones, but it can be in many different forms: the collecting of data about interests and

routines through social media, the recording of the purchases made through a rewards card, and

the accurate location tracking through an iPhone (p. 316). All of these are helpful to police or

anyone else trying to find a criminal; however, ‘there’s no question that our privacy has been

eroded with the help of technology” (Golbeck, 2017, p. 316). Even though these are all invasions

of privacy—especially to somebody who really values their constitutional right—they are not

quite to the point of crossing the line.

Infringement of privacy rights can have unexpected, but costly, negative effects on

people. Golbeck refers to a story that occurred in 2006, where a man who was trying to cross into

the U.S. from Canada was permanently restricted from U.S. entry because guards had learned

through a quick internet search that the man had taken LSD for a science project back in the 60s

(2017, p. 318). Another story that was referred to was one of a nurse who was faced with so

much criticism about his salary—which was on a website including some overpaid public

employees—that he sought therapy (Golbeck, 2017, p. 318). These are two examples of how

having so much information out there for the world to see is not always a good thing because it

can result in terrible outcomes. Additionally, Golbeck (2017) says that “the result [of large

amounts of personal information being on the internet] can be demoralizing and paranoia-

inducing” (p. 318).

It is undeniable that the extreme amount of surveillance is an issue, but it will most likely

never be addressed because of its usefulness to law enforcement to keep order and to catch

criminals. The American people should have more of an idea of the lack of privacy rights, the

different ways that they are taken away, and the effects that it has on people. We have come to a

point as a society that we are not very concerned with privacy rights because it has never been a
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thing that we have ever truly had. The population needs to have a better understanding of the

degree of seriousness that this is, and whether or not they want to do something about it.
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References

Golbeck, J. (2017). All eyes on you. In Kirszner, L. G. & Mandell, S. R. (Eds.), Practical

argument: A text and anthology (316-322). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.