In Chapter 6, Morozov gets into the significant issue of surveillance. He makes the claim that surveillance – and datamining – is easier now, with the panoply of new technologies (e.g., facial recognition) and techniques, and that even with some privacy controls, social networking makes it that much easier. He also says that with some of the human factor taken out of surveillance, such things as sympathy and guilty feelings go out the window.
Morozov has sections detailing privacy issues with cloud computing, mobile phones, and geolocation software. He notes that many activists don’t take advantage of technologies like Tor to protect their privacy – and even with such technologies, there are imperfect safeguards.
Morozov also claims that the idea of “security by obscurity” – the fact that the Internet is just too big for effective monitoring – is getting less and less true, thanks to search and social media monitoring.
Questions for discussion:
1) Morozov claims that “staying out of Facebook is not a reasonable option for most dissidents.” Given Facebook’s many drawbacks, what alternatives are there? If you could design a social network, what elements would you include to protect privacy?
2) Morozov also writes, “anonymity also makes activists’ involvement far less effective” and cites Sakharov as an example. Do you agree with this? If that’s the case, does it even matter that governments can link individuals to social movements?
3) Are western corporations wrong for providing surveillance (and censorship) technologies to authoritarian regimes? What, if anything, should Western governments do about this?
Chapter 1 – The Google Doctrine
Chapter 2 – Texting Like It’s 1989
Chapter 3 – Orwell’s Favorite Lolcat
Chapter 4 – Censors and Sensibilities
Chapter 5 – Hugo Chavez Would Like to Welcome You to the Spinternet
Chapter 6 – Why the KGB Wants You to Join Facebook
Chapter 7 – Why Kierkegaard Hates Slacktivism
Chapter 8 – Open Networks, Narrow Minds
Chapter 9 – Internet Freedoms and Their Consequences
Chapter 10 – Making History (More Than a Browser Menu)
Chapter 11 – The Wicked Fix