Whether you’re a true conspiracy theorist or just an informed global citizen, you should be familiar with the saga of Edward Snowden . Snowden’s lifting of the veil on the NSA’s global network of surveillance, of which Pine Gap was associated with, would cascade into a number of accusations being leveled at intelligence agencies in the USA and abroad of secretly building a global surveillance state. Numerous documents and memos would end up coming to light and confirming many of the fearsome intelligence gathering weapons that had been unleashed on the world. Yet, the idea of an all seeing NSA had, seemingly, already been adopted into American pop-culture. 1998’s Enemy of the State, starring Gene Hackman and Will Smith, had already familiarized us with the technology and explored concepts of what some factions within our government could possibly do with access to the vast amount of information that they could obtain on private citizens without their knowledge.
Only now, does it seem that people are becoming more aware of their digital footprints and what we leave behind in the internet landscape. While the world’s intelligence agencies may be surreptitiously building digital profiles on us, I see the more immediate threat of those who seek to profit off our internet browsing habits. Not only do companies like Cambridge Analytica want to use our data for marketing products to the public but they want to use that data to market politicians. To shape our reality by presenting us with information that subtly influences our perception of reality. Companies have done this for decades by using focus groups and paid surveys. Taking a sample of data and trying to make their best guess as to what a majority of consumers will find appealing. If companies have been paying people for the data in the past why should we give our data for free going forward? Some forward thinking legislators are on board already. I don’t mind if you want to use the personal data that I leave as the kind of trade-off for accessing the near limitless information on the world wide web. But you should damn well pay me for it.