In the aftermath of Snowdon’s revelations on the National Security Agency’s invasive and extensive spying activities, the debate on privacy rights shows no sign of abating.
In the past few weeks, the focus of the scandal has shifted onto the eavesdropping of Angela Merkel’s private life which has truly shaken the transatlantic alliance between the US and Europe. While the reaction of Merkel can be best described as ‘losing faith’ in her international counterpart in the US and ‘losing face’ on domestic soil, the question remains how much was the details of NSA prism programme really a surprise, to her and to other leading politicians? In the technological age in which the US leads a fierce and paranoid battle against terrorism with such determination to prevent pre-emptive attacks, is it that surprising that they had adopted extreme measures to monitor global activity?
What is more concerning is not the will of governments to implement such controls, but of the confirmation of the unprecedented ability of companies to accumulate vast amounts of personal information. The question of right to privacy has been replace by a need to redefine privacy, or even is with our lives so integrated online, if privacy is truly possible nowadays.
Activists and governments have adopted a widespread response of outrage and indignation and the National Security Agency considers to be effectively ‘slandered.’ While this enraged condemnation is legitimate, it is unlikely to reap any fruitful results. In a highly politically pragamatic gesture, Berlin has agreed to a one year delay on tough EU privacy laws which are heavily contested by US companies, and is perhaps as much that will happen with any tangible impact.
Recently, Motorola has launched a patent for “coupling an electronic skin tattoo to a mobile communication device’ which includes an “embedded microphone and a transceiver for enabling wireless communication’ and a power supply that could run from a battery or solar power. This skin tatoo will also have a secondary function as a’ ‘lie-detector’ with the inclusion of “galvanic skin response detector.” This new form of communication embraces the invasion of privacy, citing convenience, rather than making any attempt to resist it. Motorola’s new invention puts forward a number of important considerations that have emerged with the discovery of global espionage. Firstly, the concept of privacy is no longer a real construct, and we are all vulnerable to monitoring. Secondly, society has become so obsessed with convenience and technology, which now dominates so many areas of our life, that we have encouraged the invention of these gadgets, such as the Motorola Skin Tatoo which could facilitate blatant violation of our own right to privacy.