By Yejin Shin
“We’re living ‘1984’ today,” CNN stated.
Modern society is a world that George Orwell predicted in “1984.” In the novel, all public and private places have large TV screens that broadcast government propaganda, newspaper and approved entertainment. Society in the novel is ruled and controlled by the Big Brother who spy on citizens’ private lives through the monitors. Today, various websites track human’s lives, and individuals hack into computers and find out what they want to know.
Most of the people in the modern society start off their day with their phone alarm and end their day setting the alarm up. As information society and technology devices develop, more people use their devices to check mails, communicate with others and do their work. In addition, people share feelings and emotions with various people through different types of social network. Since lives have become easier by the development of technology, the majority of the people are not aware about the danger of information society. Information society allows the extensive collection, recording, storage, analysis, and application of individuals and groups. Because of this, the surveillance society is taking root.
Recently, DAA (Dubai American Academy) has set up the new wifi system. However, the majority of the students are opposing the school’s implementation of this software, MDM. High Schoolers are against the wifi program because it was revealed that the software has an invasion of privacy on students’ personal devices. Moreover, students were mad after viewing all the evidence that shows the type of applications that school can check on students’ phone and laptop. Despite the DAA’s effort of providing better system for the students, a large number of MS/HS students have not enrolled on MDM. Students are also signing the petition to get rid of the wifi program.
There are also negative aspects of the development of technology in social network. As the number of social network users are increasing, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts are becoming relevant to hackers. Since Facebook users have grown to billions of people, Facebook contains enough data for hackers to use for their monetary gain or cause a crime. Recently, many people could have experienced or saw friends or family sending a Facebook message with a video saying, “Is it you in this video?” This video became a problem because it was revealed that the file directly leads to the virus and hacking as soon as Facebook users click on the video. Like this, hacking is common in modern society. For one year from 2016 to 2017, Google researchers investigated that hackers steal almost 250,000 web logins every week. By looking at the cybercriminal black markets and public forums, the company found millions of usernames and passwords stolen directly through hacking. Moreover, Google researchers investigated the different ways hackers steal personal information and they found out that there are 25,000 hacking tools that can be done by people that are unskilled in technology.
In 2017, the most well known technology company, google faced scrutiny for reportedly collecting data about the location of smartphone users. A report by Quart claimed that the company was collecting data from Android devices even when location services were disabled. This issue became a serious problem since organizations are required by law to be transparent with consumers about what they are doing with personal information. A report has stated that Android phones have been collecting addresses of nearby cellular towers which included information such as Cell ID codes. Google explained that the data was collected to improve notifications and message delivery. A Google spokesman said, “Google never incorporated the data into its system” and explained that they updated the network system to no longer request Cell ID data. However, no one believed their excuses.
Some people believe that Google could have used collected data and information on creating advertisement. Targeted advertisement is form of advertising where online advertisers use personal information and data to target the audiences. Many people get help from personalized advertisement to find a product efficiently. However, these types of advertisements can be considered as a service that is crucial and dangerous since it is too personal. This can make the users to feel uneasy due to the fact that the data is being shared.
The growing of information society encouraged Google to invent Google Glass which is an optical head-mounted display designed in the shape of a pair of eyeglasses. Google Glass display information in a smartphone format. Consumers are amazed with this new technology because it allows people to send emails or find information through language voice commands and film everything by the sign of a pupil. However, Google Glass raise privacy fears because it can record video far less conspicuously than a handheld device and make it difficult for people to know when they are on camera. Therefore, Google Glass is considered as a threat to privacy. Regardless of the purpose of making humans life easier through this technology, Google Glass shows how convenience is not the only factor to consider in the information society.
Although surveillance society creates anxiety and eliminates privacy, no one attempts to overthrow the system. Therefore, solutions to prevent the issues of surveillance society are required. First, systematic legal system for computer crimes and surveillance cameras generate specific laws and rules to prevent the invasion of privacy and hacking. Moreover, technical control should be strengthened. The encryption and defensive wall should be created by the company since it is their responsibility to ensure that any service or application that they are running is protected against the vulnerabilities that are used to exploit property. These solutions show that the most effective way to solve the problems of information society is the institute system led by the government. Currently, government in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, and Canada are instituting privacy acts to protect the customers and employee data from malicious hackers. Therefore, government should carefully examine and prepare legal system as well as restraining the side effects of personal control.
“Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.” — Alvin Toffler
George Orwell said, “I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe that something resembling it could arrive.” Orwell’s ‘1984’ is not fiction anymore. Today is a surveillance society where privacy and individualism are the ideas of the past. Our thoughts and social life are constantly being shared and monitored. Alvin Toffler explained that “knowledge is the most democratic source of power.” In order to prevent an individual to gain power, people should take measures to protect own privacy and be aware of how someone is always watching.
By Yejin Shin