Many Americans are undoubtedly glad to live in the United States. We’re the land of the free, with a vibrant legal system in which those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty, where privacy is jealously guarded, and where the people retain the ability to overthrow the government if it becomes tyrannical.
None of us would want to live in China, a country that doesn’t trust its people, that actively tracks and records their every move in public, that has established an Orwellian social credit system to punish those who engage in policies of which the government doesn’t approve, and that imprisons millions of people in work camps. Imagine walking into a store in China and having your every move being watched by cameras, your face recorded and stored in a facial recognition database, and data about your face and identity being shared with other stores to identify undesirable customers. Who would want to put up with that?
Well, that last bit about facial recognition wasn’t actually a description of China, it was a description of what happens every time you walk into a Home Depot or Lowe’s home improvement store. Home Depot and Lowe’s have now become the subject of class action lawsuits accusing them of recording customers’ faces without their consent, storing those facial images in databases for future identification, and sharing those images with other stores to identify customers. And the worst part is that most people who have visited those stores don’t realize they’ve been spied upon in that way.
When it comes to invasion of privacy, most people are justifiably wary of government encroachment of civil liberties. But too few people understand the dangers of private corporations engaging in the same type of behavior. And corporations are only too happy to exploit that ignorance to engage in behavior such as spying on their customers, listening to their conversations, and vacuuming up as much private consumer data as possible.
Americans need to wake up and realize that the surveillance state is just as much a project of large corporations as it is of big government. And they need to stand forcefully against anything that tracks people going about their everyday lives as a massive and unjustified invasion of personal privacy.