Jump to content

What is the problem with mass surveillance?

In a post The philosophy of privacy: why surveillance reduces us to objects, philosopher Michael P. Lynch exposes the tension between individual autonomy (the freedom of making decisions) and structural control over mass personal data collection (which renders behavior).

You may “freely” click on the “buy” button in the heat of the moment – indeed, corporations count on it – without that decision reflecting what really matters to you in the long run. Decisions like that might be “free” but they are not fully autonomous. Someone who makes a fully autonomous decision, in contrast, is committed to that decision; she owns it.

(Michael P. Lynch)

Being in control of one’s own data therefore means taking ownership of one’s decisions.

To renounce on behavioral data means giving up the keys of one’s free will.

The systematic collection of data is a two-face device of power. Its invisible counterpart is a web-like structure that is being built around us. We are slowly losing the very possibility of escaping it—and along with it the conditions of true decision-making.

What is a human life without self-determination, if not merely rendered as another input-output object?