GPS: General Population Surveillance

Today, the internet was abuzz with the latest news, and it didn’t have anything to do with cats, porn, or Justin Bieber. No, today Facebook accounts and Social Media sites like Digg and Reddit blew up with a story on Gizmodo entitled: “Our Worst Nightmares About the Government Tracking Us Just Came True”.

The article details that a recent undercover sting by the government involving the un-warranted GPS tracking of a suspected drug smuggler has been deemed “totally okay” by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (the 9th Circle of Hell, I mean, circuit, refers to California, Oregon, Arizona, and the other less important Western states).

So what exactly does this mean? Well, if you’ve been reading “1984” by George Orwell lately (and if you haven’t, go to hell and die), it essentially means that “Big Brother” has got his nose all up in your business, and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.

Now, this is the sort of typical alarmist journalism that sends the common folk into a tizzy, so the only sane, rational thing to do right now would be to PANIC! OH MY GOD THE SKY IS FALLING AND WE’RE TURNING INTO A SOCIALIST SOCIETY RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! Or, you know, just be pissed off about it and write somebody a letter. I hate writing letters, so instead I am complaining about it via my lousy blog.

But, then again, what is there to complain about exactly? Oh sure, invasion of privacy, civil rights, blah blah blah. At this point, internet user, do you really feel like there is any notion of privacy left in the world? You are aware that, more than likely, you are holding a smartphone somewhere near you that has built in GPS. After all, how did you get directions last night to that totally killer club where your friends were taking Jager bombs off of each others’ belly buttons? I’m sure you didn’t ask the local one-legged vagrant (after all, if you need directions, ask a one-legged man: he’ll tell you the quickest way there).

No, Generation Y, which I think stands for You Goddamn Morons; my guess is you pulled up your Google turn-by-turn to meet your friends. GPS is already on your phone, which is already on your person, which means if they really wanted to find you, the government probably could. Right now. Seriously, as you’re reading this, men in black suits could burst into your office Matrix-style to abduct you and send you to China to work in an Apple factory until you want to blow your brains out. Sound crazy? It’s not.

“Okay, so what?” you say, you smarmy bastard. “So they have one means of finding me. I’ll just leave my phone at home so they won’t know where I am.” Smart move, Mr. Bond. Only problem? My guess is you already updated your Facebook or Twitter about your whereabouts before you left. After all, can anyone actually go anywhere without letting their social networks know anymore? Hell, if updating a status is too hard, you can even “check-in” when you arrive somewhere thanks to Facebook Places, a handy new feature for people that love letting robbers know when their house is empty.

So let’s review:  the government says it’s okay if they track someone via GPS, and people get upset. Yet all people do nowadays is let people know where they are. This obsession with being “connected” leads to exactly what Orwell feared: a totalitarian state where every move made is monitored, every sound uttered is recorded, and no one can slip under the radar even if they think they can. There is no personal freedom. The worst part?

We are living in that world now. The frightening thing is, it wasn’t some dictator or evil corporation that made it possible: it was us. We were the ones who said “Yes, we want everyone to know where we are at all times” without even realizing we had said it, and all the government and corporations had to do was offer the tools necessary to making it happen.

We are the sheep leading ourselves to slaughter.

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