Knowing The Government Is Spying On You Changes How You Act

from the if-you've-done-nothing-wrong? dept

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.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Knowing The Government Is Spying On You Changes How You Act”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Ninja (profile) says:

Obviously. Even if you are sure to be law abiding you’ll always have that pesky doubt deep down your mind that will erode you overtime. If you know you are monitored 100% of the time in your communications are you really going to say those naughty, pornographic things to your partner? Are you going to discuss your personal dilemmas? I wouldn’t. Sometime in the future because I slipped somewhere this may be scrutinized by others. Or worse, hacked and released in the wild. No, you cannot rest with a surveillance state. This alone is enough to drive people insane.

Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

I don’t know. The people in the UK seem to have adapted well, if you read this idiot’s article.

I love the line “Snowden has given Beijing something it couldn’t achieve on its own: moral equivalence.”

Of course I jest about those in the UK, but when articles like this try to dispel why the surveillance isn’t an issue of a police state, it’s obviously written by someone who lives in one.

DrS says:

Re: Re: Re:

But not the 2 cameras on the two phones in my house?
Not the 2 tablets with 3 total cameras?
Not the 2 personal laptops with cameras?
Not the work laptop with a camera?

I’m sure those are all completely unhackable.

Heck, with the work one, they might not even have to work that hard. Everyone trusts their employer, right?

Michael (profile) says:

Knowing The Government Is Spying On You Changes How You Act

That is complete bunk.

Knowing the government is spying on you means you are probably going to have to deny that the government is spying on you so you cannot possibly admit that your actions have been changed by the spying. So, this is completely impossible to study if it were to ever happen.

I mean, what spying? My government? No way. That is reserved for communist nations and dictatorships.

Anonymous Coward says:

those in positions of government and of power with the ‘ear of the government’ are interested in nothing other than what they want. they are not interested in what they have to do to achieve what they want. they are not interested in what has to be given up, lost or taken away to achieve what they want. this is a clear example of everything a government and a nation should NOT be doing!! but when the person most interested in doing this is nothing but an egotistical prat, expect no let up!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is a private, non-government site. Mike has the right to deny you access. By circumventing his attempts to deny you access, you are in violation of the law. According to most of the trolls around here it doesn’t matter how easy it was to circumvent his measures, you are guilty and should be hung. How does it feel to be a filthy hacker criminal?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

i object...

*NOT* because an innocent person will feel surveilled…

*NOT* because it will change how we live…

*NOT* because it is expensive bullshit for no good return…

i object because it is MORALLY WRONG and constitutionally horrific, *regardless* of any/all good/bad consequences…

i know, i know, morals are so last millennium…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Mike Gogulski (user link) says:


“As we seem to be drifting rapidly towards such a surveillance state…”

Mike, Mike, buddy… there is no more drifting. We were talking about drifting during the 1990s. The surveillance state is here. It’s no longer a matter of transition or potentiality. Pervasive surveillance is now part of the background context. All that comes next is that it transforms from something notable as new into worth discussing only in the terms we use to address changes in the weather.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...