From the crack of dawn to the darkest hours of night, you are followed. In the most intimate detail, every step of your daily life is being permanently recorded without interruption—from your bed to your fast-food breakfast, your subsequent ride to work or to visit friends, then to lunch and continuing along the pathway of your journey, back to your bed and whatever goes on there.
Government agencies in power in whatever jurisdiction—domestic or foreign—you happen to be passing through on a given day tap into these digital recordings routinely and effortlessly.
Of course, at this point in the internet revolution you probably know that what I have written is not the dystopian fantasy of a paranoid character in George Orwell’s alarming novel 1984 from seven decades ago. Rather, it is an all-too-accurate, unvarnished account of our current dystopian reality. Or maybe you don’t know that.
Not long ago I wrote a book about the savaging of our privacy. The title—They Know Everything About You—refers to the government’s snooping into personal data collected via the internet. But I have to admit that even I was shocked by a recent Associated Press investigative report, which had a truly Orwellian opening sentence: “Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.”
Presumably, most people know that they have voluntarily surrendered the last vestiges of personal privacy when they click “agree” to the terms and conditions of the apps that they use while searching, say, for directions to a desirable restaurant or a new friend’s home. But what they don’t know is that this chronicling of their footsteps is in most instances beyond their control, even if they unequivocally refuse to grant Google Maps—or other useful apps—the privilege to pinpoint their location.