We asked a two-day intern, Lola Spaan, to write something about the upcoming Crypto Design Challenge. This is her contribution:
"Sharing is caring”, “privacy is theft” and “secrets are lies” are the most important thoughts to take away from the main character and her surroundings in the book, The Circle, by Dave Eggers. Mae Holland works at The Circle, a community which gathers a lot of information from just about everybody in the world. They have access to your online-profile, which is called Zing and works a lot like our Facebook.
Sharing is caring in the context of the book means helping the society by sharing every little thing you like or do. If you don’t share everything, people start to get suspicious and start asking why you didn’t share all the things you did that day. Why didn’t you share your story? Did you do something wrong? Do you have something to hide? This is what they mean when they say privacy is theft. If you don’t share what you did, because you don’t want everyone to know about it, The Circle calls it a lie: secrets are lies.
But you aren’t forced to go along with this total madness, are you? If you just don’t sign up for an online account, and arrange your insurances somewhere else, you should be safe, right? No, you’re not. Within the world of the book, you can’t evade The Circle. Because why, for God’s sake, would you not share your whole life? Are you a felon? Or do you have this horrible lifestyle or something? The people who are pull back from the online-world are being tracked down and forced to build an online-life.
The Circle is a book, but our society is also becoming less and less private. Look at Edward Snowden, who revealed the espionage of the government of the US. They can look into your laptop, WhatsApp messages, and much more. It’s not just the US government that does these things: our own Dutch government are doing the exact same thing. The information is called Big Data. And because of the growth of the online-world, Big Data is getting bigger. We, the innocent users of the social networks, are being used: used by governments and big companies. Everything we put online, they can use for something. So, to get back our privacy there must be something that can help us. A good start is to stop sharing everything: stop sharin’ start carin’.
Even so, I wonder why I, after writing this, still log in to my Facebook profile. Are we unknowingly forced? Or are we afraid to stay offline?