It’s Always On and Always Watching



This is going to be some real talk about some real-life horror we all live with.

My first video game console was a hand-me-down Atari 2600, which was pawned off to me when my cousins heard about the NES. I had never played a video game in my life and my initial reaction was what you might expect:

“This is the future.”

Never once did I ever think that gaming tech or, really, any kind of modern tech could ever actually be anything other than entertaining. I never actually thought this stuff was capable of being a concern…or scary, even. Then I heard the initial coverage for the Xbox One and I felt my eyebrows do that thing they do when something seems off.

How would you like a gaming console that operates on facial recognition? The minute you move into range of the ever-watchful, MANDATORY camera and microphone, the system activates with your own personalized dashboard – populated with recommendations based on your monitored shopping and browsing habits? That’s what Microsoft was initially proposing with their next-gen console. If this scenario sounds vaguely familiar, you might be thinking of the telescreens from Orwell’s 1984 – big, mandatory TV screens installed in the homes to broadcast Big Brother’s rhetoric and monitor the people.

Or you might just be thinking of the real-life telescreen, the Samsung Smart TV…which uses a camera for gestural commands and, apparently, can be hacked – a TV that’s capable of watching the watcher.

In this day and age, we live in a world where technology is so inextricably woven into our day-to-day lives that personal privacy is becoming less of a Constitutional right and more of a myth. Your mobile devices track your movement and collect data on what you’re doing, and even internet sites rely on tracking cookies and data mining – all for the purpose of targeted advertising and the ostensible luxury of convenience.

Go on Amazon one day and just start browsing for anything wolf-themed – come back the next day and see how many recommendations you have for wolf-themed products. That’s really a minor example, but it raises some pretty obvious questions and concerns. Do these people have the right to monitor my shopping habits? Do I want them profiling me based on how I browse? How could this be used to exploit or even compromise my identity?

And it’s not just the major tech providers and developers – I’m sure most people reading this have heard about Edward Snowden. If you haven’t, then maybe you’re just one of those rare individuals with no ears, eyes or hands…or maybe the government has gotten to you! The long short of it is that Snowden blew the whistle on one of the largest government surveillance programs in the country. PRISM was one of the big programs to find itself in the spotlight as it was soon learned that the NSA had procured extensive calling and tracking data from Verizon Communications – calls and texts monitored for the sake of security.

You know that Windows operating system? According to an article published on WND, every version of Windows since 95 has had a built-in backdoor for the NSA to just let themselves in. You know…just in case.

Unfortunately, this might not come across as something scary to anyone raised with these conveniences. Hey, maybe it’s nice to have an interactive TV that profiles and compiles recommendations based on what it thinks it knows about you. Maybe you like to play devil’s advocate and understand the safety applications inherent in GPS and NSA monitoring. However, the cold hard fact, at the end of the day, is that technology is no longer a thing you have in your life – it is your life.

Most people are involved in work that requires regular interaction with this tech – like we said, it’s inextricably woven into the fabric of modern society. It’s just worrisome to know that, while you use these devices to find what you need, the devices themselves are learning more and more about you – whether you want them to or not.

All that data, all that information – about YOU – just sitting around somewhere…waiting to be found by someone who might NOT have your best interest in mind.
London McGuire is a freelance writer and contributor for In addition to the horror and thriller genres, she
enjoys writing about sports, great food and anything related to
television or movies. Follow her on Twitter @londonmcguire.


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2 thoughts on “It’s Always On and Always Watching

  1. I’m going to get an X Box One and sit naked on the couch and stare into the camera while fondling myself. That’ll show them!
    Couple of times losing their lunch and they’ll learn not to pry.

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