Apps, cameras blur privacy line with safety


Abby Blazevic, Co-Editor-in-Chief

1984, a book written by George Orwell, describes a utopia in which citizens live in apartments with two-way screens so they can be watched and listened to at any time. Similar screens were used in workstations and public places, along with hidden microphones. Although most of the events in the book were made to be exaggerated and placed in the far future, some of Orwell’s surveillance predictions have begun to surface through the 21st century.
With growing technology, the government receives more information about their citizens. According to the Electric Frontier Foundation, The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers, has engaged in massive, illegal surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of Americans since at least 2001.
“I feel threatened by how technology has advanced so much and there are so many different ways to put surveillance on people, but the laws aren’t catching up with that. I’m not sure where the protection is against how we can be surveyed,” Samantha Kukuk, English teacher, said.
Specifically, the Amazon products, Alexa and Amazon Echo, have been in the spotlight for secretly recording conversations. Despite Amazon claiming that the technology only records what is said after the trigger word “Alexa” is picked up, there are many cases where recording begins without being activated. One of the most famous cases was reported in New Hampshire during an investigation of a double murder case in 2018 according to
Police believed that there was probable cause that the Echo picked up audio recording of the attack. In 2015, a man from Arkansas was accused of murder and prosecutors requested the recordings of the Echo in the house where the body was found.
Teenagers are constantly invested in new technology developments and are being exposed to potential government spying every day. It can be difficult to understand the risks of this issue because some teenagers are uninformed.
“I never really thought about how the government could watch me at any time when I use my phone. It’s a scary concept to think about and that’s why most people don’t talk about it and try to ignore it,” Isaac Gallinero, sophomore, said.
The line between privacy and public safety has been closely debated surrounding government surveillance. There are some citizens who believe that public safety should be prioritized, and spying is justified if potentional danger could be stopped. There are other citizens who believe the right to privacy should be protected at all costs. However, some can see both points of view and are stuck in between.
“I agree that our right to privacy should be protected; however, if government surveillance could prevent another American tragedy, I wouldn’t mind giving up some privacy for the safety of our country,” Olivia Brady, senior, said.
Building faculty such as Kristy Riley, forensics and chemistry teacher take precautions against possible intrusion. “I don’t own Alexas, etc. in my house and my Siri is always turned off,” said Riley.