Digital Privacy is Like the Blinds on Your Windows


When I'm at home, I prefer to keep my blinds down, unless the Sun is hitting my window at a good angle. It gives me a sense of security and calm to know that I can do whatever I want without the possibility of anyone scrutinizing my actions. I do things like reading books and taking showers behind the safety of my blinds— it's not like these are inherently immoral acts that need to be kept secret, thus justifying my use of blinds. I just like to be left alone when I'm minding my own business.

Some people like keeping their blinds open. They roll them all the way down and proudly declare "I have nothing to hide! Why should I keep my blinds down?" They tell me that trying to keep your blinds down is a waste of time, since you've had them open your entire life anyway. Besides, what's the point of lowering the blinds when you're already being watched? They have a point— their house is made of glass. Everything is transparent from the outside, all the way to their bathroom doors on the second floor.

Of course, it is not their fault for buying a transparent house. The three real estate giants, known as Goggle, Pear, and Megasoft have been pushing to make transparent houses an industry standard for years. They market the houses as the "homes of the future", appealing to the consumer using flashy features like "Fingerprint unlock the front door!", "Higher resolution security camera!", and "Better integration with our Smart typewriter and fan!" Of course, they designed the typewriter and fan to fail lest you not have a glass house.

At this point, buying a glass house has been normalized. People are waiving away their right to keep the blinds down left and right, for the sake of faster popcorn delivery by drone and convenience. This is not their fault either— the Big Three real estate companies have made it very difficult to find out what you are actually agreeing to when you sign the contract for your new glass house. On the contrary, it is very easy to sign the contract itself, almost too easy, in fact.

You didn't know about the microphone planted in your car, the cameras in the corners of the rooms. The smart fridge sends a report of your weekly groceries to Megasoft. The chair is analyzing the weight of each person that sits on it and sends it over to Goggle for "analytics". Of course, all the electronics are always on and recording by default. You have the option to turn them off individually, but there are so many of them that this is a gargantuan task. You don't even have the option to remove them from your house completely. Of course, some have tried prying them from the walls, only to see them reinstalled following the next mandatory "maintanence update". You don't choose when the maintanence updates happen either— the mechanics force open the door, kick you out, and make you sit on your front lawn until they're done.

Goggle, Pear, and Megasoft get away with this by not releasing the blueprints to the homes they design. Nobody can really prove the extent that the Big Three spy on us, because their blueprints are private and closely guarded. They have the ability to implement whatever kind of tracking device they want at the drop of a hat, because you don't have the ability to look into the inner workings of your house and decide whether you like what they are doing or not. You signed that right away when you signed up to use the house.

Oh, I almost forgot about the tracking device by Pear that is attached to your person at all times. On average, people will spend 5 hours of their day looking at the device, because Pear designed the device to be addictive. It serves the same purpose as an ankle bracelet attached to prisoners, but it sends a little bit more than just your location. It sends your conversations with friends, sleeping hours, personal library, video game data, everything— it sends it all to Pear. Not only is it virtually impossible to disable the tracking "services", most people actually signed up for this one willingly.

Privacy is a fundamental right, not a privilege. With each subsequent invasion of our privacy, the possibility of an Orwellian totalitarian surveillance state becomes more and more real. The government is very happy that we continue to sign our privacy rights away, and is very upset when we resist— just look at what the NSA did to Snowden, and what they're trying to do to the Tor developers. Our world is truly screwed the day building brick-and-mortar houses and closing your blinds becomes illegal. Join me in living in a house that has an open-source blueprint and closing the blinds to stop the peering eyes of The Big Three. Join me in fighting for the right to digital privacy.