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The Peeping Tom and the Revolution that never happened

Rahul De
December 17th, 2020 · 4 min read
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The Lizard Brain

We all have it. Its that part of our brains which is responsible for all the base needs like hunger, survival and reproduction of any animal. Its basically our subconscious. But we are Humans. And the big difference the we have from the animals is the fact that we have evolved to develop the other part of our brains to be much more complex and bigger than the lizard brain. That combined with the 23 pairs chromosomes we have makes us what we are now.

Having a much bigger Non-Lizard Brain make us the only know social animal with proper communication skills, articulate speech and the fact that we actually crave the “Social Connection”. We all like to bond and befriend other people; be it friends or family. We love to share our experiences and love to hear about other too. We all love that serene conversations that happen over moonlight walks, parties, dates and other social gatherings. And when we talk to any other person(s) we expect that we are the only ones privy to that conversation and we expect to be ourselves while having that conversation.

No one likes a Peeping Tom.

How many times has it happened that we are having a conversation and there is a complete stranger lurking around and is listening in. It really doesn’t matter that what the conversation is about. It could be about the most mundane thing on the planet but really don’t like to be listened upon by someone other to the people we’re talking to. We all have traveled in some form of public transport and we have realized how hard it is to have a conversation with someone? When we talk to a loved one, we crave privacy and have the conversation in peace without being overheard/judged/influenced by anyone. We are social animals and most of us love talking to as many people as possible but we need the private moment. Its all in the difference in how we talk to our loved ones in private compared to how we talk to them in a crowded public place. These are the times where we all can be who we really are. Our Democratic rights entitle all of us to have a right to free speech and expression. Expression is one of the fundamental things that allowed us to evolve into what we are now.

1There is a War going on right now.
3A War on this very Democratic Right.
5Welcome to the Internet.

As us being humans with huge Non-Lizard brains we are the forefront of innovation and we invent and discover new things everyday. We can reach out and communicate to anyone sitting in any corner of the planet instantly. We have a plethora of tools at our disposal that has increased our convenience many fold. Convenience. Its all that we seem to care about nowadays. Anything making our lives easier is the thing we stick by. For many of us, our digital lives are more real than our biological ones. But do we really care about the rights that we are giving up on? How many of us really read that Terms and Conditions that we blindly click on the accept button just to get along and use the convenient tool as soon as possible. We all are seduced by the flashy features and easy usage and tend to overlook the possibly harmful effects that it might have. And in doing so we literally give away our rights to a private and secure communication. With the sublime looks and features the tools are very much targeted for our lizard brains.

Governments may be intrusive, but neither they nor the people are inherently evil; we have to realize the fact that this is all about control. Yes, surveillance is a necessary tool to find potential wrong doers in the society and it has been there since society existed. But what is wrong is Mass Surveillance. The whole notion of bulk collection of each and everyone’s data in the name of security or advertising. In today’s world Data is the new Oil. We label it as big data, data mining, data analytics and what not but we should also consider the fact that our communications are not really sound waves or on paper anymore. They ARE the part data that we might be unknowingly uploading somewhere.

1We should be cognizant of the fact that the Peeping Tom is very much present and given the data we give away we don’t really have the private conversation that we once had. All in the name of convenience. We have to realize the fact that this is oppression. Oppression of the people. By recording and analyzing all of the conversations, governments can dictate whatever they want over the people and deem any particular action or person to be a threat based on the governments interests without proper public approval. This is a very grave situation and is a direct contradiction to the fact that we “democratically” elected that very government.

Yes, this is the revolution that never happened. The privacy revolution. We are technologists and we are the ones responsible for educating the people about the potential threats that tech poses. When the leaks from Edward Snowden came into light we as technologists failed to act upon it. Most of us still crave convenience over privacy. Many of us are today exhausted worrying after our privacy, not knowing how to keep up with the newest trends in encrypted messaging apps or which new wire-tapping programs can monitor which type of software on what port over what technology. Quoting @mobitar : “As a software developer or techie, you are the main character in this game, and it all depends on your decisions and actions today. Too cumbersome to manage a small personal server? Future generations will never know data ownership. Too inconvenient to use that slightly-less-than-beautiful encrypted chat app? Future generations will never know data privacy. Too much work to install an open-source app on your own server? Future generations will never know data freedom.”

I believe privacy is also a team sport. Its not about just you installing the best secure app but is also about educating your friends and family to do the same. Its all about collectively working towards the common goal of securing ourselves from the dangers that lie around us. We all know how difficult it is to be using a widely used application for communication and then switch to another for the greater good. For security’s sake, for privacy’s sake and the for the sake of our own democratic rights we must do the switch. and take our family and friends along with us too.

Battles may be lost, but never doubt the significance of this cause. A paranoia is in the air, like the paranoia in Orwell’s 1984. Don’t ignore it. Don’t believe it isn’t real. Don’t believe it’s not important. You are creating a better future for your children and their children as well.

1“I have nothing to hide.”
3Does anyone still believe this? If yes, I’d really hope that they reconsider again. For their own sake.
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