Don’t pry into my personal space 

How many of us are surprised at receiving emails or text messages of holiday wishes by the Prime Minister? Who gave the government our contact information?

Elza Irdalynna, FMT 

We live in a world where intimacy and privacy exists in a different and wider scope in this day and age. We share copious amounts of information about ourselves for the world to see: our family, friends, professional lives, personal lives, even our daily meals are uploaded to the internet.

Many of us subscribe to the social media community for various, innocent reasons. Be it to keep in touch with loved ones, to bridge geographical gaps, to promote our business, or simply to keep a digital anthology of our lives.

However, not many people are aware of the fact that social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on possess the rights to our information – pictures, videos, statuses.

And under programs such as PRISM by the NSA in the United States, they can be forced to give out our information under the all too wide umbrella of national security.

Even if you do not own a Facebook account, your email, bank details, browsing history, even purchasing records, are under unwarranted surveillance.

Take the soon to be launched Xbox One for example, and their ‘always online’ feature. While it may seem cool to players that they can activate their consoles by voice recognition, they fail to understand that this means ‘someone’ is always listening.

Their webcam feature is also always online, and so customers are under 24 hour surveillance.

If Malaysians believe that this only affects America, think again.

Technologies used for monitoring programs such as PRISM can be used worldwide. Anyone who is assumed to be an enemy of the state can be traced and put on record. This is not limited to suspected terrorists.

The NSA is watching everyone, every phone call, every message, everything.

It is a lie to claim this is merely to ensure national security. If this was the case, the US government would have been able to stop the Boston Marathon bombing before it occurred. After all, the duo responsible used the most unsophisticated methods of attack.

The Big Brother phenomenon is not alien in our country. How many of us are surprised at receiving emails or text messages of holiday wishes by the Prime Minister? Who gave the government our contact information?

Police state

Recently, Melissa Gooi was arrested for sedition because she “insulted the Agong” on her Facebook account. Specifically, she expressed her opinion of the King’s speech, not of the King himself, and suggested the speech was written by someone else, perhaps of the right-wing group.

She also expressed this under the protection of her freedom of expression, enshrined in our constitution. She also made these comments on her personal Facebook page, which, despite it being a public network, was intended for those she knew and trusted.

Perhaps she had a higher privacy setting, but her friends and friends of her friends did not.

And so, due to either parties that are easily offended, or persons using her as a political tool, her opinion was viewed as a threat to the sanctity of the King. Despite the fact that she had not directly broken any laws, this will forever taint her record.

Her friends who commented on that status are also jeopardized. Not only is this a violation of her freedom of expression, we have now allowed online surveillance to be enough evidence to arrest and imprison someone.

Slowly, but surely, we will become a police state like North Korea, and the government will lead the people to believe that it is for their own good.

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