We've already had a few posts discussing why the whole "if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide" argument is bogus
, but this weekend's edition of the radio show This American Life
had a fantastic short section in which the host, Ira Glass, spoke to lawyers for detainees at Guantanamo Bay
, who are all pretty certain that every one of their phone calls is being recorded and listened to. What's amazing is the emotional response you hear from most of these lawyers, who recognize that they can no longer comfortably speak freely to anyone
on the phone ever again
. The stories of them not being able to be emotional with their children when speaking to them on the phone, or in which their friends accuse them of being especially curt and officious whenever they call are somewhat heartbreaking.
These are the things that many people simply don't recognize
about the psychological impact of a surveillance state. When you have no real downtime -- no time when you can be free from prying eyes, it messes with your brain
in a really profound way. This short segment (just 8 minutes long) really highlights how much a little thing like the inability to ever speak to someone privately changes your entire way of speaking and communicating. As we seem to be drifting rapidly towards such a surveillance state, these are the issues that we should be thinking about and understanding. There may be certain benefits to being able to do widespread surveillance, but we should not and cannot ignore the costs.