From a TedxYouth Talk given on November 5th, 2020.
Link to the talk: https://youtu.be/cpK-XshFAms.
Do you ever lock your door? Do you have a passcode on your phone? That is to protect your privacy, and privacy should be a fundamental human right. For me, privacy means to have control over what information goes out from me. For example, if I send a message to one of my friends, that message should only be read by us, unless one of us decides to share. When I don’t have the right to privacy, and I can’t protect my privacy, I feel watched, like I’m being monitored. Asch’s conformity study has shown that when people are with others, being watched, they change their behavior. For example, imagine if I was with my friends, who do not take privacy very seriously. I would most likely not share my ideas on privacy in depth, because they could make fun of me for thinking that privacy is so important. If I was always being watched, I wouldn’t be able to do what I truly want to do. It is important for me to do what I actually want to do because it is about being myself and expressing my true self. If I can’t do this, I am just a robot to society that is following the orders of the majority.
4 years ago, I watched a film called Snowden. This film shocked me, and was the reason I started valuing privacy. This film was about Edward Snowden, who was a former CIA agent who exposed the surveillance system, a monitoring system, that the US government had control over. This system was collecting information from cameras and microphones everywhere, without our consent. Phone calls of tens of millions of people—including yours—were being recorded by the government without your consent, and they were doing this secretly. Finally, just a few months ago after 7 years of exposure, this system was determined illegal by the federal appeal court. Despite this, Snowden is in Russia, to stay away from the US government who is trying to punish him for exposing this system. But he saved our right to privacy. Do you want your conversations to be recorded? Do you want everything you say, everything you do, everyone you talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship to be recorded? Well, I don’t, and that is why I value privacy.
After watching the film, I researched more about privacy. I found out that big companies like Google and Facebook are using our data to make profit. Their business model is to sell us, to sell our data. We are the product of these companies. To make you click on ads, they track you. They take a record of what your interests are. Then they change what you see when you browse, based on your interests. They will most likely show you content and ads that you support, so that there is a higher chance that you will click on them. If these services that track us show us content that we already like, we will not be introduced to anything new. This means that our ideas will stop where we are right now. What we want to see and will see is decided by the algorithm. We will not feel the freedom we should have. No growth with our knowledge will be possible. Therefore, there will be no growth individually, and no growth as a whole.
Many people say that they don’t care about privacy because they have nothing to hide. However, as Snowden said, “privacy isn’t about something to hide, privacy is about something to protect”. If you don’t care about privacy, it’s like screaming out your home address or browsing history in public. Even if you don’t do bad acts, even if you aren’t a terrorist, you should care about privacy, because it is about being yourself, and doing what you actually want to. If you don’t want to be the products of these big companies and be tracked by these governments, you should start caring about privacy, so that you can truly be yourself, and grow as you, not the conditioned you.